The government's ability to balance its books ranks high among today's news stories following yesterd...
Investment in public services is running a double the rate compared to the same time last year and the tax take has increased just 3%, says the Telegraph.
It is not surprising, then, that the public sector net borrowing has gone from a surplus of more than £3bn last year to a deficit of more than £6bn this year.
The Telegraph says the figures are actually better than they sound.
"Most economists believe the picture is not as bad as may appear and note that the increase in spending has come at the right time to offset weakness in other areas of the economy," it says.
The Times takes a more negative stance, pointing out that the deficit is the biggest for six years.
"Analysts said that Labour's ambitious spending programme and the weaker economy were to blame for the deterioration in the public finances," it says.
Yet, even The Times has to admit that economists are still relatively up-beat.
"Despite weakening public finances, analysts believe the Government is still on track to meet its budget deficit forecast for the financial year."
The FT adds to the analysis by running comments from the Treasury today indicating that spending increases will be sustained, but perhaps not at the levels that public departments would like.
Andrew Smith, the cabinet minister in charge of the three-year spending review, is quoted by the FT as saying there will be no lurch back to lower spending plans once the current spending plan period ends.
"But he warned spending ministers that the Treasury would not put fiscal stability at risk," the FT notes.
"Government departments are due to lodge spending bids for the three years to 2005-06 on February 18. Gordon Brown, the chancellor of the exchequer [finance minister], will set out overall plans in his March Budget, and allocations will be announced in July."
Spending plans of another sort involve fund management company Gartmore's newly appointed head of UK equities Jon Thornton.
He was previously dumped by Aberdeen Asset Management after consistently underperforming as head of AAM's UK Blue Chip Unit Trust, The Scotsman says.
"The bizarre twist of fortunes puts Thornton in one of the hot seats of UK fund management - just two rungs from the top of the illustrious Gartmore ladder."
The paper quotes BestInvest as being "surprised" by the appointment, given the track record of funds previously run by Thornton.
"His performance over the past three years has seen him ranked 80 out of 86 fund managers in the UK all companies sector by Citywire's ranking system," The Scotsman adds.
It also quotes a spokeswoman at Gartmore as saying Thornton's underperformance had only come during the volatile markets of the past two years.
Aberdeen is mentioned too by the Telegraph, which reports on yesterday's vote by shareholders in the Aberdeen Preferred Income split capital investment trust.
The shareholders voted 99.1% in favour of a £72m rescue package, which will result in the issue of new stepped preference shares.
Holders of zero dividend preference shares maturing in 2003 are being offered shares maturing in 2005 plus 29p cash for each 2003 share.
Not everyone was happy, however, particularly financial advisor Richard Moon, who previously urged holders of zeros to vote against the deal.
"The private client brokers who persuaded their zero dividend preference share clients to vote for this deal will have a lot of explaining to do next year," the Telegraph quotes Moon.
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