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Costing THE pUBLIC

West Bromwich doesn’t have much to boast of these days; it has no cinema, no theatre, no swimming pool and the shopping centre is tumbledown. Sandwell, the local authority, only received one star in the latest CPA Council Ratings (2006) and the area is right at the bottom of the... Read more...

EU tries to raise taxes in Britain...again

Not content with import taxes which raise the price of food and clothing imported from outside the EU, nor with abortive plans to introduce an EU tax, the bureaucrats in Brussels are at it again. This time it's VAT. The European Commission is calling for VAT rates to be harmonised... Read more...

Concerns over Conservative economic policy

Two interesting pieces have appeared in the last few days on Gordon Brown and David Cameron's approaches to taxation and the economy. Firstly, Fraser Nelson wrote in last week's Spectator: "During what passed for Labour’s leadership campaign, Mr Brown was asked why he would not raise the top rate of... Read more...

Latest Public Administration Disaster

“The reform of the Child Support Agency has been one of the greatest public administration disasters of recent times. The facts speak for themselves. More than one in three non-resident parents fail to pay any of the money they owe, amounting to £3.5 billion in uncollected maintenance. Around 230,000 of... Read more...

The Public Accounts Committee on the Child Support Agency

The Public Accounts Committee today reported on the disastrous history of the Child Support Agency.  By October 2006, one in four applications for maintenance received by the Agency in 2003 were still waiting to be cleared, there was a backlog of a quarter of a million cases and around 36,000... Read more...

Alan Johnson to review Healthcare

The Telegraph is not impressed by the review of the NHS that the new Health Secretary Alan Johnson has launched: "The "once-in-a-generation review" he launched yesterday, to be undertaken by the distinguished surgeon Sir Ara Darzi, now a health minister, appears to be aimed at soothing the ruffled feathers of... Read more...

A gimmick or real local democracy?

We can be forgiven for being a bit sceptical about Gordon Brown’s initiative to make local spending subject to local ballots. The idea is welcome and it’s high time the people had a say over where their council tax is spent.  Given the record of this government, however, we’re minded... Read more...

Alistair Darling promises stability

In an interview today with the Financial Times Alistair Darling responded to calls for change in the tax treatment of private equity firms.  He said that he would "always strive in making change to try and make the [tax] system simpler" but would not make populist changes to capital gains... Read more...

Gordon Brown's constitutional tinkering won't restore trust in government

When Ken Clarke's Democracy Taskforce reported recently the TaxPayers' Alliance wrote for ConservativeHome: "Unmanageable departments combined with inexperienced and short termleadership produces dismally bad performance. This is what erodespeople’s trust in politics. People are right not to trust the modernBritish state to fulfil all of the functions it has assigned... Read more...

Non-job of the week

This week’s Guardian treasure-trove comes up with a gem of a non-job.  Charnwood borough council has advertised for a ‘director of change management’.  Paying this non-jobber £69,000 a year for ‘change’ not only means constant change within the council but highlights that something isn’t right in the first place.  If... Read more...

Armed Forces struggling to cope with overstretch

The Telegraph today: "The report declares: "The impact of continuousdownsizing, pressures and overstretch is affecting the [defence]department's ability to retain and provide a satisfactory life forArmed Forces personnel." It stresses that in thepast six years, the Services have been operating above the mostdemanding level of operations envisaged by defence planners... Read more...

Low pass rate feared with new vocational diploma

In the Telegraph today we learn that there are fears for the new vocational diplomas that the government is looking to introduce.  Apparently the requirement that students emerge functionally literature and numerate is asking a little too much. Alan Johnson, the last education secretary, warned earlier this year that the... Read more...

George Osborne gives advice to new Chancellor

In an interesting op-ed in the Observer, the Shadow Chancellor had plenty of advice for Alistair Darling, as he takes over the reins at the Treasury. In one of the key parts of the article, Mr Osborne wrote: “Britain's businesses will be held back so long as we have some... Read more...

Grade Inflation can't be fixed by new grades

When governments look to fight hyper-inflation a common strategy has been to issue a new currency.The idea is that the new currency will restore credibility and signal a break from the past.  Today it has been announced that the government is trying to do something similar in an attempt to... Read more...

Poor priorities in our prisons

It’s been a good month for prisoners.  First came the news that dozens will be released early to ease on overcrowding.  Then there was even better news that those on early-release would get a £200 goodbye, courtesy of the taxpayer.  But today there’s consolation for those still behind bars -... Read more...

Weekly Waste Round-Up 65

In the news this week:Tour de France costs us £6.8m- "The 94th race will have its "Grand Départ" in London on Saturday... Starting the tour in Britain has cost £6.8 million, including a £1.5 million fee for the event's organisers. Transport for London has stumped up £3.2 million and the... Read more...

Brown's pensions raid has also cost savers

New calculations by Mike Warburton and Maurice Fitzpatrick at Grant Thornton are yet more evidence of the damage that has been done by Gordon Brown's removal of tax credits on dividends. They show that an estimated three million investors in personal equity plans (PEPs) and equity-based individual savings accounts (ISAs)... Read more...

Weekly Waste Round-Up 61

In the news recently:NHS negligence cost us £4bn- "BRITAIN could have had 16 giant new hospitals - if doctors had not made so many cock-ups. NHS chiefs have used £4BILLION of taxpayers' cash in clinical negligence costs since 1997. And that would have been enough to build at least 16... Read more...

More students taking soft GCSEs

Today the Telegraph reports that the number of students passing five good GCSEs in English, maths, science, a modern language and history or geography has fallen from nearly 44 per cent to 28.6 per cent.This is symptomatic of an education system that responds to government targets and league tables instead... Read more...

Unaccountable monopolies kill people

A Healthcare Commission report shows that 99 out of 394 trusts are failing to take basic steps such as safely decontaminating reusable medical equipment and keeping facilities clean. This can be added to the news last November that 84% of staff did not wash their hands before and after contact... Read more...

Shock: BBC biased, sky is blue etc...

The BBC has today come under fire for promoting its own agenda of ‘trendy causes’ in a report commissioned by its own governors, forcing it this morning to publish guidelines ensuring impartial broadcasting.Allegations and rumours have long been made about BBC bias, highlighted by an ingrained prejudice against the United... Read more...

Tax Credits System Still Fraught with Errors

Today it has been announced that the amount of overpayment in the tax credits system has fallen. Reuters reports that the total has fallen by £100 million to a total of £1.7 billion this year. This is still a huge amount. A mistake is still made in almost half of... Read more...

The Town Hall Rich List

This report used the Freedom of Information Act to discover a startling number of local government employees being paid over £100,000 per year.  Many local government salaries are rising rapidly while council tax payers face higher bills.Download Town Hall Rich List (PDF) Read more...

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