What's fresh

Public Sector Review: 19th August 2010

 

Public spending

Times - Families to lose out in benefits bonfire
Child benefit, winter fuel allowance and other universal benefits are likely to be scaled back in the biggest reform to the welfare system since World War Two. George Osborne signalled his approval for the plans, calling the current system ‘fundamentally unfair’. It is thought that middle-class families will bear the brunt of the reforms, which aim to add up to a £13 billion reduction to the UK’s welfare bill.

 

Treasury

 

Guardian  - UK public finances begin to improveSigns of improvement in Britain’s public finances emerged this week when the government revealed that borrowing in July was down on the same month in 2009. Figures from the Office for National Statistics showed that net borrowing last month stood at £3.8bn compared with £6.1bn a year earlier. Data for the first four months of the financial year – a more realistic guide to the underlying trend – also registered a small improvement, with the deficit coming down from £47.5bn in 2009 to £44.9bn.

 

 

Politics

 

Times - UKIP leader says ‘I’m no good’The leader of the UK Independence Party, Lord Pearson of Rannoch, is to step down.  The peer, who took over as leader in November last year, said that the party deserved better to represent them on EU issues, and that he had struggled with party politics. This could open the way for Nigel Farage to return.

 

 

Clegg vows to break entrenched class structures
Nick Clegg on Wednesday pledged to break Britain’s entrenched class structures and “improve people’s lives” without resorting to the handouts from the state preferred by Labour. The deputy prime minister used a keynote speech on the anniversary of the coalition government’s first 100 days to promise to reverse the “national failure” on social mobility, even as benefit budgets are cut back.

Marathon effort to claim the middle ground
David Miliband, energised after a summer holiday in Northumberland, bounds into his rented office on Westminster’s Smith Square, which is buzzing with Labour volunteers. His campaign is buoyed by news that 25 of the 58 Labour MPs who lost their seats at the last election have given him their backing. His main rival, brother Ed, has picked up just 11.

 

Defence

 

Saudi arms deal set for smooth US passageOne of the largest arms deals in US history, involving the sale of weaponry worth some $60bn to Saudi Arabia, is likely to go through Congress without significant objections, according to people on Capitol Hill. The deal would include 84 Boeing F-15 fighter aircraft along with Blackhawk and Apache helicopters. People knowledgeable about the deal say a big factor smoothing its passage is Israel’s relatively relaxed position, at a time when it and Saudi Arabia are both focusing on a possible threat from Iran.

 

 

Employment

Guardian - Equal pay for women not likely till 2067, says research
Working women who thought they might live to see Britain’s pay gap finally close will have to hold out another 57 years, according to research published this week. Forty years after the Equal Pay Act was passed, the study shows that the gender pay gap remains stubborn and that male and female managers will not be paid the same until 2067. Women have also been harder hit by the recession, with more female workers than men being made redundant in the past 12 months, the research by the Chartered Management Institute (CMI) shows.

 

And finally…

Times – Queen should be our last, Australian PM says
Australia’s Labor Prime Minister has said that the country should become a republic once the Queen dies or abdicates. The Welsh-born leader, Julia Gillard, told reporters: ‘I believe that this nation should be a republic’. She acknowledged, however, that Australians had a ‘deep affection’ for the Monarch. Gillard made the comments on the campaign trail ahead of the election.