Fair Tax For All?

Fair Tax logo

I guess financial in the public sector boils down two things: getting the money as efficiently as possible and spending it as effectively as possible. My previous post was concerned with fraud which can lead to reduced income or wasted spending. This post focuses more on the collection of income. Or rather, maximising the amount of income to be collected. Governments have many sources of income but principally they levy and collect taxes. The last year or so, in the UK at least, has seen much more of a debate about the tax planning activities of multinational companies. Indeed, Starbucks, …

Will fraud increase because of austerity?

The UK was ranked 17th in the 2012 edition of Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index. Having heard Professor Alan Doig at the recent CIPFA Audit Conference I wonder if we may slip down the ranking over the next few years. Prof Doig is undoubtedly an expert in fraud and corruption and has applied his knowledge around the world. His friendly, wryly-humoured delivery belied what I thought was a rather bleak message. In fairly short order he demonstrated how much of the UK’s public sector anti-fraud apparatus has been, or soon will be, demolished: only 25% of police forces have fraud …

CIPFA Audit Conference 2013: Keynote: Meeting the Performance Challenges

I enjoyed being at the CIPFA Audit Conference earlier this week. Here are my presentation slides. My presentation was the opening one. I’d been a bit nervous about it beforehand, not about the giving of a presentation but about the content. I’m not an audit specialist so I decided to talk about performance challenges from a general, big picture point of view. What I was concerned about, then, was whether what I said would resonate with any of the sessions that followed. I stayed until mid-afternoon and I’d say that all the other sessions I saw had touch-points with what I’d …

Hear me speak at CIPFA’s Audit Conference 2013

At rather short notice I have agreed to speak at the upcoming CIPFA Audit Conference in York on 22 May. I’m not a specialist in audit but fortunately my topic is broader than that: the financial and performance challenges facing the public sector. I’ve some ideas about what I want to say already but the preparation of a 40 minute talk will take me probably ten times that (and I’ll do it the Presentation Zen way).

What would an independent Scotland use as currency?

Writing about the financial management takes for granted that there is some money to be managed. For most of us, most of the time, we don’t have to think about what currency to use but this week there has been some coverage in the UK papers about what would happen in Scotland if it were to become independent of the rest of the UK. Here are links to a couple of helpful articles. The first comes from Channel 4’s FactCheck blog, explaining whether or not Scotland would be excused from paying any of the national debt that’s been racked up …

Who would be brave enough to fix our tax system

I read an article by Peter Wilby in Public Finance magazine a couple of days ago (see here) . What I really liked about the article is that it summarises in a few hundred words that the UK tax system is not ideal, the main things wrong with it, and why there is no realistic prospect of it being fixed. Perhaps it takes a cynical view about politicians but I would rather regard it as a realistic view. We have to recognise that all political decisions involved gainers and losers and politicians will inevitably take them into account. They might …

Why the UK tax year ends on 5 April

HMRC logo Euston Tower

Today is 5 April, the final day of the UK tax year. It is unusual for an annual period to end on the 5th day of a month. I can’t think of any others. Generally, we like to use the first or last day of the month for defining periods—and this is especially the case with financial periods. Companies and governments are likely to use 31 December, 31 March, 30 June, etc as dates for the end of their financial years. In fact, as far as UK public sector bodies are concerned their budgets and statements of accounts use 1 …

Can a strategic partnership reduce the cost of policing?

Back in November I gave a presentation to a conference of police authority treasurers and police force finance directors about strategic partnerships in policing and I posted my slides here. In that presentation I tried hard to make sure that my comments were balanced, giving both the positive messages that advocates of private sector involvement would make and the counter-arguments. As a result of having some time on my hands I’ve boiled down my presentation into a one pag document which you are welcome to download. Can a SP save money  

Something a bit different …

It’s been a while since I posted here. I’ve got a few ideas in mind for some posts about managing public money, some inspired by a recent course I did at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. That course is also mentioned in a guest blog post I have written for a friend. That post is about the importance of personal development when you work on a freelance basis. You can see the post here.

Benchmarking: an incentive to improve, a distraction or a red herring?

In the question and answer session of the presentation I gave a couple of weeks ago I was asked how I thought a process of benchmarking should fit into the annual budgeting process. I gave an answer at the time but I don’t think I expressed my view as well as I could have so I thought I would have a go in writing. The question was posed to me in terms of unit costs: if we are preparing our budget for a service how should we take into account the fact that our neighbours or peers deliver the service …