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Welfare Reform on the Web (February 2011): Welfare state - UK

12 months to save schools and NHS

J. Kirkup

Daily Telegraph, Jan. 17th 2011, p. 1 + 4

The Prime Minister is to use his first major speech of 2011 to initiate a new debate on public service reform, while defending controversial Coalition policies on schools and the NHS. In order to break the public sector's traditional monopoly on running state services, Mr Cameron will announce that in future a fixed proportion of services will be offered by non-state providers. Government will withdraw completely from some areas of provision, and will expect voluntary and community organisations to take over.

Banks to help run public services under plan to cut back state's role

J. Kirkup

Daily Telegraph, Jan. 10th 2011, p. 2

Ministers are drawing up plans for an injection of third party capital and expertise into public services including education and social care. Companies, charities and community groups will be invited to provide public services under contract and banks and other financial institutions will be asked to help fund their operations. New rules will dictate that a fixed proportion of services must be offered by non-state providers. Organisations providing public services could be allowed to collapse if they cannot cover their costs. Public sector workers will get new rights to form companies and tender for contracts.

Councils say poorest areas will be worst hit by cuts

P. Butler

The Guardian, Jan. 14th 2011, p. 23

The government has been accused of targeting the most deprived towns and cities with cuts, forcing councils in Britain's poorest areas to rapidly expand existing plans to shed thousands of jobs and reduce frontline services. The claims followed the announcement by Manchester City Council that 2,000 jobs will have to go a s result of the government's cuts to local government's budgets and the scrapping of specialist grants.

Hospitals will bring taxpayers 60 years of pain

A. Gilligan

Daily Telegraph, Jan. 25th 2011, p. 1 + 4

Official figures show that, under Private Finance Initiative (PFI) schemes, British taxpayers are committed to pay 229bn in rent and maintenance costs to contractors for new hospitals, schools and other facilities with a capital value of 56bn. Several contracts are due to run for 60 years and private contractors who agreed PFI deals with government agencies are set to make billions of pounds in profit, with some due to see returns on investment of up to 71%.

Outcome based government: how to improve spending decisions across government

Social Return on Investment Working Group

Centre for Social Justice, 2011

Britain's system of spending public money needs a fundamental shake-up to eliminate waste and boost results. Whitehall decisions about the allocation of 700 billion of taxpayer's money should be made on the basis of clearly defined objectives and not vague hopes of improving people's lives. For decades, spending programmes overseen by successive governments have lacked clear objectives and have been poorly managed and monitored. Ministers have concentrated too much on crude outputs - such as increasing police numbers - and not enough on outcomes - such as cutting crime. The danger is that the current 81 billion of cuts by 2014-15 will not be accurately targeted and leave wasteful programmes in place while taking out ones delivering services valued by the public. The report calls on Ministers to create a new body, the Office of Spending Effectiveness, which would work with established organisations such as the Office of National Statistics and the National Audit Office - to check spending plans from government departments for their likely effectiveness before they are approved.

Spending review

Treasury Committee

London: TSO, 2010 (House of Commons papers, session 2010/11; HC544)

This report provides cross-party commentary on the Government's 'Spending Review 2010 ' which will shape public policy for the coming Parliament. It examines some of the key spending decisions. It concludes that although ring-fencing might fulfill electoral promises, it could also lead to allocative problems across government as a whole, and reduce scrutiny of the efficiency of ring-fenced departments. The Committee analyses the differences between the Treasury work and that done by the Institute of Fiscal Studies (IFS), and calls on the Treasury to consider whether it can adopt some of the IFS's proposals. It also recommends that the calculation underpinning the analysis should be published, to provide transparency and encourage debate.

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