Archives for August 1997

Net tax advice

Headlines, PublicNet: 29 August, 1997

The Inland Revenue has launched a web site designed for those affected by self assessment. These include mainly self-employed people, high-rate taxpayers, directors, business partnerships, employers and tax advisers. There are 500 pages of advice, but relevant information can be accessed quickly and easily.The new site can be accessed on www.open.gov.uk/inrev/sa/ It includes background information about self assessment:-

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X-ray film on the way out

Headlines, PublicNet: 25 August, 1997

Hammersmith Hospital is now totally free of X-ray film, just 101 years since Wilhelm von Rontgen made the first-ever X-ray of his wife’s hand. The film has been replaced by a £13m system for storing and transmitting body images.The new system known as a Picture Archiving Communications System (PACS), uses computer technology to store and transmit body images. X-rays and other diagnostic images can be distributed electronically throughout the hospital to wards, departments, clinics, and operating theatres.

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Government accounting moving towards 21st century

Headlines, PublicNet: 21 August, 1997

Plans to introduce Resource Accounting and Budgeting across Government departments are on schedule for the year 2000. Budgets will apply to the year starting on 1 April 2001. Executive Agencies, the NHS and local authorities already operate Resource Accounting. The latest milestone in moving towards the change is the approval of the Treasury Resource Accounting manual which will provide guidance on the procedures. Approval was given by the independent Financial Reporting Advisory Board.Departments currently plan and account for expenditure on a cash basis. This system of accounting has been in use since the mid-19th century and it ensures that Departments work within cash budgets, but it fails to take account of the capital aspects and consumption of resources. Resource Accounting covers a set of accruals accounting techniques for reporting on expenditure. Adoption of the techniques will allow departments to link the full cost of resources consumed to their objectives and outputs. The further step to Resource Budgeting will change the public expenditure control total to an accruals basis.

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Charter Unit under new direction

Headlines, PublicNet: 19 August, 1997

Jonathan Rees has been appointed the new Director of the Charter Unit at the Office of Public Service. He will be responsible for taking forward the Charter programme for encouraging public services to deliver high quality standards.One of his first tasks will be to mastermind the re-launch the Charter programme. The re-launched is part of the Better Government initiative. Work on the initiative is well under way and a White Paper is due to be published at the beginning of 1998.

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Coherent attack on social exclusion

Headlines, PublicNet: 15 August, 1997

Modern urban economies generate substantial numbers of people who are excluded from the economic mainstream. Peter Mandalson described this social exclusion as the “greatest social curse of our times.” In a lecture to the Fabian Society he outlined the creation of a Cabinet Unit to co-ordinate policy development and existing programmes. Robin Young, Head of Economic and Domestic Affairs Secretariat at the Cabinet Office and former Director of the Government Office for London, will be in charge of the day to day running. It is expected that Tony Blair will chair meetings.Bringing coherence to current policies and their implementation is a key task for the Unit. Substantial budgets and a great deal of energy and enthusiasm are already focused on the problem. However, it is recognised that rowing harder in the same direction will not significantly reduce the scourge and waste of social exclusion. What is required is better steering to create a strategic framework within which regeneration agencies, programmes and initiatives can be fully integrated.

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Nolan to re-visit quangos

Headlines, PublicNet: 13 August, 1997

The Nolan Committee are to check out progress on implementing their first two reports. The bodies concerned include:

  • National executive non departmental public bodies
  • NHS Trusts
  • Further and higher education institutions (including universities)

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Turbulent start for welfare review

Headlines, PublicNet: 12 August, 1997

Social Security Minister Frank Field welcomed a suggestion by benefits staff in Exeter that local offices should have more flexibility in the use of budgets. Mr Field said: “I’ve been listening to how the staff in the South west region think we can best achieve our manifesto commitment of moving from welfare to work. The proposal they have asked me to look at is to move funds from welfare to opportunities, including education.” He made it clear that the suggestion excludes regional variations in benefit rates.Developing an active welfare system that promotes work incentives and reduces poverty and welfare dependency is one of the aims of the Social Security Department’s Comprehensive Spending Review. Frank Field is playing a key role in the Review which will be completed in about one year. He has been given a “carte blanche” by Tony Blair to revolutionise the welfare system and prepare it to meet the challenges of the twenty first century.

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Vision of better government

Headlines, PublicNet: 8 August, 1997

Governing the United Kingdom in 15 years time will be very different to the way it is governed today. Finding out how different it will be is the task of Public Services Minister David Clark. In the White Paper to be published in the Autumn he will set our a vision that will take account of developments such as information technology and show how Government can relate better to the needs of people and businesses.The White Paper will draw on a number of projects involving both public and private sectors and through a consultation process it is hoped that new ideas will emerge. Dr Clark said: “The scope of the Paper will include developments in local government, schools, jobs, the health service and everywhere that government bears on people’s lives. I will be consulting widely with all those who have an interest. My Department will be working closely with other Departments, in particular with the Treasury, given the importance of the Governments Comprehensive Spending Review, to answer some radical questions:

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New look at funding local spending

Headlines, PublicNet: 4 August, 1997

Local Government Minister Hilary Atkinson has invited the Local Government association to take part in a radical new look at funding local spending. The outcome will be a new framework for local government finance. She said: ” Getting a fair and just finance system for local government is absolutely vital if we are to have a renewed and vigorous local democracy. Local people have to see that their needs are understood by central Government but also that their council is being given the flexibility and opportunity to make financial decisions for which it will be accountable to the electorate.” Business organisations and other representative bodies with an interest in local government finance will also contribute to the review.The review will cover five key areas:

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Call for stronger management of social services

Headlines, PublicNet: 1 August, 1997

Sir Herbert Laming, Chief Inspector of Social Services, calls for stronger management in his annual report. Social Services departments provide for children and old people and for those of all ages who are disabled in some way. The cost of services has risen from £4b in 1991/92 to almost £8b in 1996/97.The issues for social services managers is how to improve quality of service when legislation has brought additional responsibilities and the population is ageing and making greater demands.

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