Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith says in an interview in today's FT that he wants to cut taxes. Bu...
But he also says he wants to improve public services at the same time, presenting a challenge that has never previously been solved.
Last year, the FT notes, shadow chancellor Michael Howard stressed that improving public services was the paramount issue within the shadow cabinet rather than tax cuts.
But Duncan Smith is reported as saying his statements on tax cuts now do not conflict with those of his chancellor designate.
"The question is not whether or not the objective is just to bring tax down. The objective is to get government off people's backs. What you often get when you spend more and more tax is you get more and more government and that is not the same thing as improved public services," he is quoted as saying.
"The corollary is that if we get less government people will have to pay less taxation but they will have more to spend on the services they choose."
Taxes, of course, may seem esoteric to people with money managed by Schroders, which yesterday revealed it had managed to lose £11m after disovering it overstated earnings for 2000.
The Times notes that shares in the company dropped by 10% in volatile trading yesterday.
It quotes finance director Nick MacAndrew as saying: "It was an unfortunate human error."
The bungle could lead the company to cut off its relationship with current accountants PriceWaterhousecoopers, which earned £5.2m in fees from its work for Shroders during 2000.
More worrying, however, is the underperformance of Schroders' managers, which has led to more than £5bn in assets being switched to funds in other companies, The Times adds.
The review of accountants at Schroders is being mirrored in the US, where, the Telegraph reports, Andersen faces bankruptcy over its failure to blow the whistle on dodgy accounting at failed energy trading company Enron.
Damages could leave Andersen with a $10bn bill, the paper says.
Other accountants say the insurance policies in place within the industry could not be used to pay off any claims against the company over its role in the Enron affair.
The Telegraph says Andersen is "unlikely to have insurance coverage of more than $300m a year."
Meanwhile, the partner fired over the accounting irregularities involving Enron yesterday testified before Congress that he in fact followed orders when he ordered the destruction of documents relating to the auditing of Enron.
The US Department of Justice is reported to be continuing investigations into Andersen's computer system, to find previously erased emails, which computer experts say will likely still be retrievable.
The Times adds another dimension to the story, saying that the Securities and Exchange Commission, the US financial services regulator, may impose draconian new measures on the accounting industry there.
"The SEC is expected to model plans for a new regulator on the National Association of Securities Dealers, which regulates America's complex securities industry," the paper says.
Outcomes from the new regulations could include the right to impose massive fines on companies that break the rules.
Closer to home, the issue of mortgage endowments is again in the news, with the decision by CGNU to cut payouts by up to 15%.
"The insurer, which manages pensions and endowments under the Norwich Union, General Accident and Commercial Union brands, said it had been forced to dip into its reserves to cushion savers from the worst of the stock market falls," The Times says.
Things could have been worse: "Mike Urmston, chief actuary, explained that the cuts to the maturity values on long-term endowments could have been as much as 25 per cent without the benefit of the with-profits smoothing mechanism."
That will be little comfort to people who are nearing the end of their contracts - terminal bonuses have been cut by up to 50% in some cases.
"Ned Cazalet, head of Cazalet Financial Consulting, an independent insurance analyst, said that the slew of bonus cuts would "aggravate" the plight of the million or so homeowners already facing shortfalls on their mortgage endowments," The Times writes.
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