Public Sector - Council tax up 6.4%.
The government is believed to be considering backing down on proposals to allow local authorities to levy a supplementary business rate. The plan would allow councils to levy local taxes of up to 5% of the national uniform business rate. Instead the Department of Environment, Transport and the Regions, is considering the introduction of small business improvement districts, allowing businesses to decide with local authorities on whether local taxation is justified. For more see www.detr.gov.uk
– A National Audit Office report on measuring the performance of government departments has revealed 82% of departments had difficulties ensuring there were appropriate incentives for success in implementing public service agreements. The report also showed 71% of departments believed giving front-line staff a sense of ownership of PSAs was a great challenge. Sir John Bourn’s office found there were no accepted standards applied to the validation of performance information and arrangements for validation were rarely shown in how PSA targets were measured. More details at www.nao.gov.uk
– The Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy has predicted council tax bills in England & Wales will rise by #54 to #891 for a band ‘D’ property. The survey predicts a 6.4% rise in council tax compared with the rate of inflation of 2.7%. CIPFA chief executive Steve Freer said: ‘It is an extremely difficult balancing act, which each individual council must judge based on its reading of local needs. In the circumstances an average tax increase of around 6% is not surprising.’ For details go to www.cipfa.org.uk
– The Auditor General for Wales has said there is a need for some organisations to improve the quality of their accounts prepared for the National Assembly for Wales. The auditor’s report warned there were challenges ahead in the move to preparing a ‘whole of government of Wales’ account, particularly with the requirement for bodies to include a statement of internal control in their accounts describing how they identify, assess and manage business risks. More information about this story can be found on www.agw.wales.gov.uk
– The Charity Commission’s decision to name charities that submit annual accounts late has been welcomed by ACCA. Compliance with the rules on financial statements is vital in the charity sector, according to ACCA. John Davies, head of business law at ACCA, said: ‘Registered charities raise substantial amounts of money from the general public and benefit from significant tax advantages. It is essential trustees understand they are obliged to report on their stewardship.’ Under the Charities Act 1993, a charity with an annual gross income or total expenditure of £10,000 must file an annual return within 10 months of the end of its financial year.