Archives for January 13th, 2005

JOINED UP COUNCIL TAX COLLECTION ENTERS FINAL PHASE

Headlines, PublicNet: 13 January, 2005

Local councils will soon be able to install systems to help them recover the 800m pounds of council tax that goes unpaid annually. The design of the pilot system, known as Valuebill, has been agreed by the eight councils taking part in the pilot and there is a final opportunity for other councils to comment on the system. Consultation ends on 18 February 2005.The system, which 16 suppliers are involved in developing, is designed to streamline the processes which underpin the collection of local property taxes by creating an electronic information exchange between councils and the Valuation Office Agency. The data that Valuebill provides will both speed up and reduce the cost of collection. Other benefits include faster and more efficient property valuations and improved quality of property information held by councils. It will also be possible to provide a better service for consumers.

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TIDE TURNED ON SOCIAL EXCLUSION BUT INEQUALITY PERSISTS

Headlines, PublicNet: 13 January, 2005

Despite the measures taken by Government to tackle poverty and social exclusion, Britain remains a very unequal society. This is the conclusion in new study by a team of members and associates of the Centre for Analysis of Social Exclusion (CASE) at the London School of Economics. The in-depth assessment of the Government’s record on social exclusion since it came to power warns that although the tide has turned in key areas, there are gaps in the strategy. Its detailed review of policy areas includes education, employment, health and neighbourhood renewal, as well as economic disadvantage.Where Government has concentrated its efforts, the study suggests there is now clear evidence of progress. Child poverty has been reduced by its tax and benefit reforms. New analysis of spending patterns also shows that low-income families with children, who have benefited most from the reforms, have increased spending on goods for children, such as clothing, footwear, games and toys, as well as on food. Significantly, spending on alcohol and tobacco has not increased.

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DELIVERING PUBLIC SERVICES TO A DIVERSE SOCIETY

Book News, PublicNet: 13 January, 2005

This report from the National Audit Office is based on a survey of 131 government bodies, assessing their performance under each of the Government’s six key diversity strands: disability, gender, race, religion and belief, age, and sexual orientation. The NAO found that many government bodies are making progress towards addressing the challenges of providing services to diverse customers, but that there is scope for significant improvements.Government bodies need to focus more on working with customers, their representative organisations, and expert groups, to understand and address diverse needs. They need to develop leadership that empowers frontline staff to take the initiative in identifying and responding to diverse needs and to recognise that frontline staff, the outward face of public services, must have sufficient freedom and support in meeting the needs of diverse customers. This requires managers to articulate their messages on diversity clearly and provide support with appropriate actions.

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