What's fresh

Public Sector Review: 12th August 2010



Times – Hospitals fear downturn will hit cancer targets
A quarter of the country’s leading hospitals could miss key targets for cancer care or dealing with superbugs as financial pressure grows on the NHS. Over 20 foundation trusts raised concerns over meeting cancer performance standards, while 11 said they were worried about controlling bugs such as MRSA to the expected level. Key indices for cancer care include the 62 day maximum waiting period between a GP referral and first-stage treatment.

Times – Brain scan for autism to save NHS money
Children with suspected autism could receive a brain scan shown to be 90% accurate in identifying the condition and related disorders. The scan, which takes only 15 minutes, could be introduced across the NHS within two years. The technique was developed by the Institute of Psychiatry at King’s College, London.  It is estimated that autistic spectrum disorders affect around 600,000 adults in Britain.

Business and Finance

Times – Bank of England to reveal impact of Budget
George Osborne faces a ‘day of reckoning’ as the Bank of England publishes what is expected to be a pessimistic outlook for the economy. The quarterly forecast will be the first to take into account Osborne’s austere budget in June. It is expected that the Bank will announce a headline-grabbing increase in inflation forecasts. Former Chancellor Alistair Darling has called Osborne’s approach a ‘reckless style of austerity economics [that] will hit confidence and jobs’.

Financial Times - UBS to advise on Royal Mail’s future
The government has taken a further step towards potential privatisation of the Royal Mail by hiring UBS to advise it about the group’s future. The investment bank’s mandate will be to help the business department and the Shareholder Executive, which manages state-owned assets, to obtain the best settlement for the taxpayer, according to people close to the process. UBS has helped the government before, having been drafted in at the height of the financial crisis in 2008 to advise on a response. Freshfields has been taken on as a legal adviser.

Local Government

Guardian – Met Police Chief keen to promote prison sentences
The Metropolitan police commissioner, Paul Stephenson, has waded into the debate about Britain’s prison population by opposing government proposals to lock up fewer criminals. Stephenson also expressed his support for handing out short-term prison sentences for offences such as burglary, contradicting the justice secretary Kenneth Clarke’s recent comments that it was “virtually impossible” to rehabilitate offenders on short-term sentences. The background to this is the Government’s review of sentencing policy, with Clarke indicating that he favours a greater emphasis on community sentences rather than putting more criminals behind bars.

Home Affairs

Telegraph - Bounty hunters to cut benefit fraud by £1bn
It has been announced this week that finance experts will be paid to identify welfare cheats by trawling through their records, household bills and credit card applications. Credit agencies will get a “bounty” payment for each fraudster they identify under government plans to cut the £5.2billion annual fraud bill. By having access to the Government’s database of incapacity and housing benefit claimants, the companies believe they can shave at least £1billion from the welfare bill, earning as much as £50million.


Independent – Gus O Donnell to stand down before next election
Britain’s most senior civil servant, Sir Gus O’Donnell, has decided to quit before the next general election, giving David Cameron the chance to appoint a successor, it has been reported. As Cabinet Secretary, Sir Gus, 57, played a major part in negotiations between the political parties when the May general election produced the first hung parliament since 1974. He was appointed Permanent Secretary to the Cabinet in 2005.

Financial Times - Cable wins key support in Commons
Vince Cable may find an unlikely ally in future battles with his Conservative coalition partners in the form of the all-party Commons business committee, its Labour chairman has said. Adrian Bailey, who chairs the committee that shadows Mr Cable’s department, told the Financial Times he regards it as the committee’s role to provide “reinforcement” for Mr Cable when dealing with members of his own government. He warned the Conservatives not to alienate Mr Cable, who was an adviser to John Smith, the late Labour leader, and is regarded as the most leftwing Liberal Democrat in government.

And Finally…

Financial Times - Blue-blooded PM says he is just middle class
David Cameron may be descended from royalty but his blue blood does not exclude him from membership of the middle classes, he insisted on Tuesday. Speaking at one of his “PM Direct” meetings with members of the public, the prime minister portrayed himself as a regular fellow. Mr Cameron said that SureStart nurseries had been set up for underprivileged families but was more likely to be used by “sharp-elbowed middle classes like my wife and me”.