Monday, May 24, 2010

A Change of Culture

It was a very assured performance this morning by George Osborne and David Laws. They were announcing £6.24 billion of efficiency savings cross government. They gave the details of the amounts each government department would be expected to save and how they would do it. And now they can be held accountable for the results. Any government department which fails to meet its savings department will no doubt see a few senior heads roll.

Forget the detail of this, the important thing is the signal it sends. The culture of profligacy which has bedevilled our system of government is over. Every public servant must now account for every pound of taxpayers' money they spend in a way they have never had to before. And about time too.

28 comments:

Not a sheep said...

About time to, indeed. But just wait for the cries of 'killing front-line services; from the Unions, Labour politicians and BBC 'experts'.

Sean Haffey said...

A good start, but way too little. A 1% cut in the budget is little more than noise. Twice that would have shown resoilve, with little or no negative effect on the economy.

While I am pleased the cuts were made, I am sorry they weren't braver.

Josher said...

They gave the details of the amounts each government department would be expected to save and how they would do it.

I couldn't watch the speech and can't find a breakdown of this yet. Don't suppose anyone's seen one or can remember the details?

Stepney said...

Note to Govt Departments:

Spending restraint. Hooray. Put out flags!

NB: (Make sure the flags are costed properly; fit for purpose and have a long usage life. Do NOT have an strategic awayday to make the decision; do NOT have a multicultural impact seminar and do NOT have an exchange visit to Sri Lanka to investigate the possibility of flag twinning).

Buy flags; fly flags.

Lola said...

Humph. Call me cynical but all they'll claim is that in order to account properly and save money they'll have to recruit some extra bodies. Or they will keep the bureaucacs and sack the teachers/doctors/nurses/soldiers*

*Delete as applicable

Roger Thornhill said...

"the important thing is the signal it sends"

The "signal" I am getting is that the coalition is in denial.

Considering inflation is at 3.4% and government borrowing costs will rise, think of how high growth will be and for how long, year after year before we even balance the budget with such miniscule, infinitesimal cuts, let alone reduce the deficit.

Havocman said...

The Beeb were on the case early this morning. On Breakfast they quantified £6bn in numbers of nurses and teachers that this would employ. They then compared it to the level of the annual deficit. So, in summary, the message seemed to be goodbye to 250,000 nurses to remove two weeks worth of the deficit. Nice impartial reporting as usual.

DiscoveredJoys said...

The 'cuts' which could have the greatest effects are the ban on recruitment and use of contractors.

These are the long term, not very flashy or exciting, changes which could bring in a new sense of realism.

About time too (echo).

wv: tatizato - what a great new word.

The Boiling Frog said...

£6.24 billion? Wow! What we actually need is at least 10 times that in this year alone. When are the Tories going to be more candid? I won't hold my breath

daedalus said...

Its a very small start indeed but welcome all the same. I had the pleasure of meeting Jason McCartney newly elected MP for Colne Valley at the weekend and he made the very valid point that the conservatives have to push that the reason we have to cut spending so much is because of Labours gross overspending over 10 years. I don't think that they are doing this as much as they should yet. While Labour are in the leadership debate and are effectively rudderless; now is the time to really stick the boot in about this and ensure the public understand just how they caused the the problems that the conservatives (with help) will have to sort out AGAIN. We really must try to make Labour unelectable for decades ahead.

Daedalus

Johnny Norfolk said...

Abour 3 years too late.

Thanks Labour.

Johnny Norfolk said...

Sepney

A school near me in Conservative Breckland had a competituon of the popils to make a school flag. They hoisted the winner and then were told by the council that they had to seek permision to fly it as it was " advertising" the school. I wish I was making it up.

John R said...

The recently released spending figures show we overspent by (only!) £156Bn instead of the forecast £163Bn last year. So £7Bn shortfall.

The world didn't end, patients weren't left in car parks, children werent abandoned in playgrounds, the jails werent unlocked and criminals allowed to walk out. Actually no-one noticed.

Boy Geroge's £6Bn is much the same.

When do we get the real cuts?

..Silicon Implant!! said...

No, you mustn't. Strive to make labour unelectable for decades, I mean. Last time you succeeded in that aim, and the labour party tore itself apart, the unchallenged Tory party became fat, bloated, smug, self-serving, introspective and entitled. The result of THAT was that they themselves promptly rendered themselves unelectable for the following generation. You need somebody keep you on your toes. Competition of ideas improves the breed. If the Labour party isn't in a position to have its ideas taken seriously enough by the electorate to require rebuttal and the conservatives to focus on delivering better ideas, then the same may well happen again. I don't think this country can survive long term with one term of decent credible intellectually coherent government every four parliaments or so. Thatcher's first term, and Tony Blair's first term, were the best of both governments, an although you may think one was better than the other (as do I), the common factor in each successively less impressive term was a paucity of credible opposition to hold feet to the fire.

Jabba the Cat said...

Considering that the deficit hole is being dug almost twice that amount deeper monthly that is not particularly impressive.

simon said...

Shouldn't they be announcing these cuts in front of the house of commons instead of at a stage-managed press conference and on the Today programme? Isn't this exactly the sort of thing that Labour (rightly) took a bashing for?

DespairingLiberal said...

I was totally delighted by the chopping of 1st class travel for civil servants (although we will no doubt get much whining for exceptions over the coming years on that one) - and by the assualt on government ministerial cars - I expect this to creep back somehow though.

The ludicrous overfunded and underproductive Becta is though just one of many, many examples of quango madness and we need to see more.

Sad to see only 95m cut so far off IT expenditure. The preposterous waste in this area by central government, their agencies and quangos is bordering on the insane. The prime beneficiaries are the bloated, featherbedded "IT framework providers" in the "private" sector. These companies have been sheltered from competition for nearly 20 years of government largesse. Quite a few are foreign owned, exporting British taxpayer money to the wealthy in Monaco where it of course rightly belongs. Many of the "IT projects" are ludicrously over-priced. Training a few civil servants in each unit to recognise IT con merchant tactics would be a starting point. At the moment, IT procurement by individual civil service agencies and departments is like rabbits being put in charge of managing the heroin trade. The levels of waste are phenomenal!

Puzzled this is not being attacked more.

Nigel said...

For the '1% is inadequate' group, bear in mind that there will be further cuts announced in the imminent budget. And truly swingeing one to follow in the autumn comprehensive spending review.

The government has once chance to get this right, and taking a few months to get to grips with detail that was simply not available to them in opposition is eminently sensible.

As for inflation, if department budgets are strictly cash limited, this will help rather than hinder. Though those of us with savings will feel the pain.

Bottom line - whatever they do is going to be painful for a lot of people. This is a promising start, but the real tests are ahead.

Fred Blogs said...

Why was this announced at a press conference? More utter contempt for the House of Commons. I wonder what Berkov will say this afternoon.

Gavin Gamble said...

I cannot see a case for Labour's ''risk to the economic recovery' one iota. I think the cuts are timely, wise and common sensical.

IvorBiggun said...

It's notable how the BBC, almost all of them, parroted Labour's line where spending was referred to as 'investment' (bit like bookmakers refer to gambling stakes as an 'investment'), whereas now the line is universally "£6B of cuts" rather than savings.

Time for a lot of savings at the BBC - it's indefensible that one taxpayer funded organisation dominates so much of the UK media landscape. Slim it down, break it into competing parts, and stop the tellytax trough - if they're as good as they say they are then public subscription will more than support them.

Patrick said...

great, but have they axed the union modernisation fund yet?

clearly wasted on unison.

Moriarty said...

I'm somewhat discombobulated. I think I might have agreed with Despairing Liberal's last three posts.

Perhaps I need a holiday :-)

DespairingLiberal said...

@Moriarty - I've always been against stupid waste in government. However, I'm also moderately in favour of government expenditure, when it is spent, keeping a redistributive element. I was therefore disappointed by the decision to completely scrap Child Trust Funds - I though the previous Tory thinking on this and similar issues was to cut it from the well-off. I presume the discussion has gone "it's too expensive to run means-testing - so cut it completely". Still a shame though as it was one of the better things NuLab came up with - pro-saving and pro-poorest families.

Jimmy said...

"Forget the detail of this"

Sounds like the next campaign slogan.

Mirtha Tidville said...

Hmmm I too find myself in the strange position of agreeing with Despairing Liberal.Sure the cuts announced today are little more than a boil on an elephants arse but they have at least signalled a change in culture re expenses,quangos and general largesse. It needed to be done and its long overdue.

Osborne and Laws have made a good start so credit where its due.More of the same please

Nayan said...

They must go further and faster. I was talking to some finance people today and they suggested that the government needs to outline at least another £4.5bn worth of cuts and £15-20bn in tax rises for this year in the budget if they want debt markets to take them seriously.

With around £30bn coming of the deficit this year and a further £30bn next year (in the more desired 80:20 ratio) the government would be in a good position to cut taxes for business and employment to boost job creation and growth. Without the austerity now we would enter into a quasi permanent state of stagnant growth like Japan and destroy any chance of improving living standards or trying to achieve full employment.

A person smarter than me (much smarter) was saying this lunchtime that the government had around 6-8 years to pull us into a surplus or Britain would be sidelined on the world stage by emerging Eastern players and a resurgent France. Not an easy task but Dave and George must rise to the challenge or we face tough times ahead.

brundlefly said...

While I welcome any announcement of spending cuts may I digress from the subject to point out that the Conservatives in opposition accused the govermment of undermining parliament by making announcements to the media first, yet where did I hear about this reported first? The conservative party news RSS feed of a speech not given to the media and not in parliament.