Tag Archives: The Budget

‘The Budget’ measures for mutuals

By David Bicknell

The Cabinet Office has produced a document on the Mutuals Information Service site detailing the Budget measures that may impact mutuals.

You can access it here

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Osborne’s Budget signals possible end of Carbon Reduction Commitment energy scheme

By David Bicknell

George Osborne’s Budget earlier today has raised significant question marks over the future of the Carbon Reduction Commitment (CRC) energy efficiency scheme.

Osborne said this, “Environmentally sustainable has to be fiscally sustainable too. The Carbon Reduction Commitment was established by the previous Government. It is cumbersome, bureaucratic and imposes unnecessary cost on business. So we will seek major savings in the administrative cost of the Commitment for business. If those cannot be found, I will bring forward proposals this autumn to replace the revenues with an alternative environmental tax.”

It will be interesting to know how those ‘major savings’ in the administrative cost might be achieved. That sounds like a softening up for the end of CRC to me.

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Osborne’s Budget speech may provide update on Coalition’s mutuals plans

By David Bicknell

Will Wednesday’s Budget bring further news on the Coalition’s plans and prospects for public sector mutuals?

Yesterday’s Independent believes it might. An article by Business Editor James Ashton suggests that Chancellor George Osborne  is likely to “talk up the progress made in Whitehall reforms” in his Budget statement.

It argues that “thousands of civil servants will be transferred into the private sector under a blueprint to shake up Whitehall that will be unveiled next month.”

Ashton suggests that new recommendations on spin-outs are due to be outlined  in a report by Stephen Kelly, the Cabinet Office’s Crown Commercial Representative.

The report is expected to say that “there are numerous government operations that could be potentially commercialised, either through forging partnerships with outside firms or seeking capital injections.”

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Stephen Kelly – the man at the coal face of the Big Society

Public Services White Paper Delayed until May

By David Bicknell

Earlier in the week, I wondered whether we would hear anything in the Budget that night offer some clues as to how mutualisation might develop, given that there is much anticipation from interested parties.

Well, we didn’t hear anything from George Osborne. And the reason for that is it looks as if the proposed White Paper on Public Services due to coincide with the Budget has been delayed until after the local elections on 5th May.

There’s some more background on the delay here

The suggestion is that there is a continuing debate over  how the breaking up of public services – an industry valued at an estimated £79bn – will benefit service users, the taxpayer, and employees. Another theory put forward – but yet to be confirmed – is that the White Paper will lean more heavily towards outsourcing and away from localism.

Will George Osborne help mutuals in today’s Budget?

By David Bicknell

There’s an interesting piece on the ResPublica blog today, suggesting that today’s Budget will offer an opportunity to judge the Government’s understanding of, and appetite for, bridging the gap between ambition and action, rhetoric and reality, policy and practice when it comes to mutuals.

The piece, by Dan Gregory,  ‘Can the Budget help the public sector do mutuals?’ suggests we should look out for any promising words in George Osborne’s speech around the public stake in the banks, the future of the remaining arms-length bodies, the future of some of our valued national assets, and keep an eye on public service reforms.

Gregory suggests that “a handful of our local public servants and administrators are interested (in mutuals). So what does this mutual ambition mean in practice for these asset managers, budget-holders and HR managers? Which button do you press to get yourself a mutual? The unspoken truth here – which is beginning to crystallise as the test of this government’s ambitions for mutual solutions – is that the standard levers available to those responsible for delivery probably won’t lead to the creation of mutuals. Keeping services or assets in house certainly won’t and going out to the market, well, unsurprisingly, means the market will decide. So how do you ‘do’ the mutual option? Where’s the lever?”

Gregory says, “We should welcome any practical steps that will truly enable the HR professionals, asset managers and budget-holders to look beyond the options they currently have at their disposal and set the warm words alight.”

Let’s see what Osborne comes up with later today.

Eco-Xchange plan set to offer greener commuting alternative

  By David Bicknell

The Government’s new Carbon Plan has insisted that if we are to see large-scale take-up of electric vehicles as a major form of road transport, developing a charging infrastructure will also be vital and the Government has committed to mandating a national recharging network. By June 2011, the Government will produce a strategy setting out how it will promote the provision of nationwide recharging infrastructure.  And we can probably expect something to emerge about low-carbon transport in the Budget this week.

The reality is that travelling into and around towns has never been more expensive or congested. Fares are increasing three times faster than inflation on public transport that is overcrowded and unreliable. Electric and hybrid cars will reduce emissions and pollution, but issues of congestion and parking in urban conurbations will prevail.

Public transport can be modernised and capacity increased to a point, but this will demand massive investment and space within cities is already at a premium for houses and office space, without additional demands from the transport infrastructure.

A new paper from the influential Eco-Xchange group, which sets out to look at green ‘in black and white’  argues that a different approach is needed that looks at the complete picture and provides a solution that is cost effective, flexible, environmentally responsible, and takes into account the specific issues of inner-city travel.

 The paper, ‘Why Commute When you can ComOOt’, argues that two wheels are better than four when it comes to getting from A to B in over-crowded city environments. By providing a range of electric powered two-wheelers from pedal bikes to motorbikes aimed specifically at getting the workforce to work, Eco-Xchange  argues it will be possible to save on public transport subsidies, reduce congestion and lower carbon emissions.  The ComOOT plan also includes secure parking and charging facilities, and the maintenance services needed to keep the wheels of business turning.

There is evidence that Olympic organisers and Transport for London are increasingly worried about the demands that the Games will place on London’s transport infrastructure and have suggested that visitors should not rely on public transport to get them to the Games’ venues in a timely fashion. At the same time, City businesses are also concerned that the additional demand on, already overcrowed, roads and rail services will lead to severe problems for their workforce and disruption to their business.

The average range of the bikes proposed would allow a comfortable return journey from the West End to the main Olympic site near Leyton.   

There is an element of social enterprise to the scheme too because Eco-Xchange argues that ComOOt  will provide a wide range of jobs covering everything from general servicing and support to general operational management, set up on a social enterprise basis, under a  Community Interest Company model.  The focus will be on offering a range of apprenticeships and vocational training as well as operational jobs at local and national level. 

According to Eco-Xchange, ComOOt is an ongoing project and will require R&D in all areas to improve the system over time. This will particularly suit those just starting out in the workplace who will benefit from  gaining qualifications and training on an ongoing basis in the new and growing industry sectors in the Cleantech and Greentech economies. 

Eco-Xchange acts as an interface between buyers and suppliers to develop and improve the adoption of ecoproducts in the business environment. It is acting as consultants to ComOOt, helping both to source the various components needed for the service, and to develop business plans and promote this excellent idea for inner-city travel. As part of the promotion of ComOOt Eco-Xchange has assisted with, and sponsored a paper that sets out the concept and looks for a founding partner or sponsor to help develop the scheme.

Anyone wishing to know more about ComOOt (or about Eco-Xchange) please contact enquiries@eco-xchange.com.

Libyan oil worry prompts Coalition to step up ‘Green’ strategy including new ‘Carbon Plan’

By David Bicknell

Reports over the weekend suggest that the government is expected to take steps – possibly in the Budget on March 23rd –  to ‘wean’ the country off oil,  amid fears that the Libyan battle for power  has created uncertainty over fuel supplies, and left consumers  facing a further rise in fuel prices.

The reports suggest every government department will be told this week to comply with a new national “carbon plan” aimed specifically at “getting off the oil hook”.

The energy secretary, Chris Huhne, told the Observer that the UK had no option but to speed up efforts to move away from oil. “Getting off the oil hook is made all the more urgent by the crisis in the Middle East. We cannot afford to go on relying on such a volatile source of energy when we can have clean, green and secure energy from low-carbon sources,” he said. “The carbon plan is about ensuring that the whole of government is engaged in a joined-up effort to lead us into a low-carbon world.”

One of the options being mooted is a nationwide strategy to promote installation of infrastructure for electric cars by June. It is also expected that new deadlines will be set for building low-carbon homes, and that a firm starting date of September 2012 will be established for a new “green investment bank” to become fully operational.

The Carbon Plan will be launched this week by  the Prime Minister, his deputy Nick Clegg, who is said to be driving the creation of the green investment bank,  and Huhne.

The Carbon Plan is being published in draft form ahead of a final version in the autumn, and will be updated annually. It will be unveiled as the centrepiece of a week of “green announcements” by ministers. The progress made by each department will be published quarterly on the 10 Downing Street website.