Archives for November 7th, 2002

LOCAL MATTERS – A SNAPSHOT OF LOCAL GOVERNMENT

Abstracts, PublicNet: 7 November, 2002

This Local Government Association booklet gives an insight into what makes local government tick. Over 21,000 elected councilors serve on 410 councils. The average age of a councilor is 57 and one third are in retirement. Performance is improving in 80% of councils, 61 of which have signed up to local public service agreements. All but two of the remaining eligible councils have expressed an interest to negotiate local agreements. Local government spends 91b pounds each year, which is 25% of public service expenditure. Councils employ over two million people, 31% of which are 50 or older and 73% are female. Earnings of council staff have grown by 13.1% over the survey period, compared to 17.1% growth of workers in the wider economy. E-champions have been appointed in 81% of councils and 45% of communications with citizens are now electronic.Local Matters in 2002 published by the Local Government Association.

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WATCHDOG CRACKS DOWN ON PFI PROFITEERING

Headlines, PublicNet: 7 November, 2002

Companies bidding for contracts funded through the public finance initiative will now have to agree to a 50/50 sharing with the public sector client of any gains from cheaper finance secured after the contract has started. This follows an investigation by the National Audit Office which revealed that 61% of PFI contracts did not have contractual arrangements to share refinancing gains. The Office found that in 12 contracts where refinancing benefits had been shared the total gain to departments was 65m pounds.Re-financing is a standard practice where the private sector contractor re-negotiates the cost of borrowing capital from their lenders once the initial risks of introducing the required service have been dealt with. Better financing terms can also be obtained because the PFI market has become established. The investigation showed that some re-financing deals had taken place without the knowledge of the client department. The NAO is critical of the level of PFI contract expertise in departments.

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HAVE YOU GOT A VISION OF DELIVERING SERVICES BY DIGITAL TV?

Headlines, PublicNet: 7 November, 2002

The Office of the e-Envoy is probing the potential of digital TV to deliver public services and wants to hear how others see the potential. Some 38% of households already have digital TV and this figure is expected to rise to 60-70% by 2005. The thinking of the Office is set out in a consultation paper which describes the convergence of the worlds of information technology and TV.DTV is seen as a means to reach the whole population, giving people a new way of accessing government services which could be delivered to citizens in the comfort of their homes. It offers the potential to respond to social needs and help bridge the digital divide because it would reach groups who would not use a PC to access the internet. By using UK Online interactive, the citizens portal launched in April 2002, there is scope for improving efficiency and cost-effectiveness in service delivery.

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