Tories and Tax – Ken lets cat out of the bag?

I wrote in the previous blog (Budgeting for Hard Choices – in 2011)

“So far the Tories problem [about public finances and tax] has escaped serious media scrutiny – and maybe they will escape right up to the Election given how unpopular Labour is and the bias of our main newspapers. But come Budget 2011 the buck would have to stop. Fiscal conservatism may make a good sound bite now, but it makes for some very unpalatable policy choices down the road.”

I reckoned without the redoubtable Ken Clarke – the last Tory Chancellor and currently their Business spokesperson (or the Shadow Shadow Chancellor as some wags have dubbed him). Yesterday Clarke took the Tories new ‘fiscal conservative’ stance seriously and said they’d have to ditch the commitment to remove ‘all but millionaires’ from inheritance tax. Within hours he had been slapped down and forced to retract, but the debate about tax and the Tories is now firmly in the public domain.

see Confusion over Tories’ inheritance tax cut plan By Alex Barker, Political Correspondent, Financial Times

Budgeting for Hard Choices – in 2011

Central government current receipts in February were 9.8% lower and current spending in February was 6.5% higher than in the same month last year, the IFS reported today (19 March 2009). What a surprise.

As government income drops and spending increases all eyes will be on Chancellor Alistair Darling when he announces Budget 2009 on 22nd April. But the real Budget to watch will be in Spring 2011. Continue reading

Public Pay for Private Work? Issues from bank ‘nationalisation’

I’ve been asked to post this important ‘think piece’ by a group of World Bank and OECD officials about the issues concerning the pay of private sector managers of banks and other institutions that have been effectively nationalised.

There is also an on-line survey that the authors would like completed Link to on-line survey.

Please pass this on to anyone you think might be interested and be willing to complete their questionnaire. Continue reading

Damned Targets?

“On Tuesday, the Healthcare Commission report revealed that between 2005 and 2008 there were 400 excess deaths at [Stafford] hospital – although it was impossible to say whether these had all been caused by bad care. The report said there were deficiencies at “virtually every stage” of emergency care and managers pursued targets to the detriment of patient care.” Report on BBC website (emphasis added).

The story of undoubted and appalling failure at an English hospital is being widely blamed in the media, by opposition politicians, doctors leaders and some academics, on the so-called ‘target culture’ in public services. But the truth is rather more complicated and harder to explain. Continue reading

Whitehall inefficiency a thing of the past?

After the government allegedly exceeded its own target to save £21.5bn from its last efficiency drive – the ‘Gershon’ programme 2004-7 – and actually save £26bn, you would think there is little left for the National Audit Office to do. Just issue the odd report saying how well Whitehall is doing and then nip out for some golf. Continue reading