Compulsory tendering on way out

Headlines: June 4th, 1997

The Labour manifesto commitment to end compulsory competitive tendering for local authorities has been honoured with the announcement that it is to be abolished. Hilary Armstrong, the local government minister said it would be replaced by a “best value” scheme. She set out a three stage process starting with a review and consolidation period, followed by new regulations later in the year.”The Government has an open mind on contracting,” she said. “Either way there needs to be an effective partnership, and fair and open competition where this is called for.” “Achieving best value will not just be about economy and efficiency, but also about effectiveness and the quality of local services. The new framework will be a demanding challenge to local authorities, seeking continuous improvement in service cots and quality. It will be a permissive framework which emphasises local choices and local accountability. But it will also ensure that every local authority makes improvements.”

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Crime tops the agenda – Need for local government leadership

Headlines: June 4th, 1997

A Mori poll carried out for the Local Government Association showed that crime tops the agenda of concerns about the quality of life. 75% of people questioned rated the services to tackle crime as the most important. In the same poll, ‘working to reduce crime’ came out as the top priority for local councils.The reasons for this concern have become clear from a procession of statistics. The 1996 International Crime Victimisation Survey showed that one in three people have been a victim of crime in the past year. The survey based on interviews in 11 industrialised countries, shows that people in England and Wales are most likely to become victims of crime and face the highest risks of being burgled or having their car stolen or broken into. Michael Hough, of the criminal policy unit at South Bank University, said the findings from the Home Office’s British Crime Survey, carried out every two years, backed up the ICV Survey.

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Political staff move into Whitehall

Headlines: June 3rd, 1997

The rash of political appointments in Whitehall has brought charges of politicising the Civil Service. John Major said: “More political appointments have been made in the last month than in the previous 18 years.” A list of special advisers appointed since the general election and published by the Cabinet Office, contains 50 names.The list includes Jonathan Powell, Blair’s chief of staff. Powell’s appointment has triggered controversy about where the dividing line between the Civil Service and political advisers should be drawn. It is thought that he was due to take over the role of principal private secretary to the prime minister. The post is currently held by Alex Allen who formerly served John Major. Following a protest from Sir Robin Butler, head of the Civil Service, there was a denial from the prime minister’s office of any plan to encroach on Civil Service territory. In this case the dividing line is being maintained.

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Task force to storm the tax – benefit frontier

Headlines: May 27th, 1997

The holistic approach to economic and social issues was given a boost by the announcement of a task force to modernise the tax and benefit system. This is a further recognition that the big issues of the modern, complex, society do not fall neatly within the boundaries of a government department, local authority or professional body.

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Chiefs’ top health pay rise league

Headlines: April 27th, 1997

The pay of NHS Trust chief executives rose by 6.2% in 1995/96 . Nurses secured 3.0% and most doctors 2.5%. Some doctors secured higher rises. Income Data Services, an independent research group, surveyed the annual reports of 396 trusts. The survey found that the typical basic salary rose to £62,000, but total remuneration was about £68,000. The highest paid chief executive was paid £118,000. Fewer bonuses were paid in 1994/95. Typical payments were about £5000 extending up to £15000.

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Finance police to work on budget deficit

Headlines: April 27th, 1997

The culture of countries within the European Union differ widely. A prominent characteristic of the Greek culture is not paying taxes. They do this in a big way by paying just over half of their liabilities. Latest estimates show that one reason why Greece has one of the poorest economies in the EU is that some 40% of the gross domestic product falls through the tax net. The Socialist government, which is faced with a huge budget deficit called on advice from the US Internal Revenue Services.

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Privatisation row – Blair moves boundaries

Headlines: April 27th, 1997

Privatisation row – Blair moves boundaries

Privatisation of the National Air Traffic Control System could raise £500m. The Conservatives have included this amount in their sums for 1998/99. Labour were fiercely opposed to the sale at the start of this year and pledged to fight tooth and nail against it. Their case was based on safety and the military’s need to link up with the civilian radar systems. Gordon Brown has now made it clear that ‘the sale of the air’ cannot be ruled in or ruled out at this stage.

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Headlines: April 27th, 1997

The Highways Agency, the Police and two local councils have worked together to produce an additional service for motorists in the south of England.

The partnership has enabled a network of motorway and main road signals to
carry travel information beyond that usually put up by Police to deal with the
conditions immediately in front of the motorist.



Headlines: April 27th, 1997

Health Minister Paul Boateng says new consultation with carers will see their
concerns voiced at the heart of Government.

He is leading preparations for the first National Carers’ Strategy.
Consultation will contribute to the shaping of the strategy, which should be
ready for a further review by interested parties in early 1999.


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