» Monday, July 12, 2004


The Prime Minister’s Official Spokesman (PMOS) advised journalists that the Chancellor had said today that his Spending Review Statement to Parliament would make clear the Government’s ruthless focus on priorities, with no relaxation of fiscal discipline. He had stressed that even with lower overall growth in public spending than in the 2002 Spending Review, the savings being made on debt interest, unemployment and through increased efficiency would release resources to invest in the future of the economy and vital public services, while continuing to meet the strict fiscal rules.

Briefing took place at 11:00 | Search for related news


  1. "invest in the future of….vital public services"? How can sacking 100,000 people be an investment in services? These are the people who sort out your pension or your unemployment benefits; the people who make sure that hospitals have the medicine you need; the people who make sure that staff who work at your local schools are not paedophiles; the people who process all the claims for asylum etc etc etc. How can Gordon Brown claim that he is going to make any of these services better by sacking the people who provide them?

    Civil Servants are easy targets for the press and politicians – usually as scape goats for problems caused by the press or politicians – but love them or loathe them, civil servants keep this country running. Turning the public sector into a series of call centres and selling off the rest is not what people want or need from public services.

    We had to put up with this nonsense from Thatcher and her years of cuts in public spending led to the disasterous state we find most of the public services in today. Brown is just carrying on down the same road of destroying the public sector – I am appalled and I would support any industrial action that the civil service unions call to oppose these ludicrous cuts.

    Comment by Uncarved Block — 12 Jul 2004 on 7:28 pm | Link
  2. On the other hand, there’s a lot that can be done to bring modern business practice into the civil service functions you’re describing – centralisation of purchasing functions and automation isn’t the kind of computer system that’s likely to go wrong, as it’s the kind of computer system that everyone is already using effectively in business today.

    So while yes, I agree that cuts aren’t the right approach towards solving the problems, there’s no doubt that structural changes, to that area alone, will lead to changes in staffing.

    The crackdown on absenteeism can be managed the same way it is in modern companies; through outsourced absentee management (or insourced technology from one of several companies providing that), which has proved very effective in a wide range of companies. Centralisation of purchasing function and methodology, as well as improved logistical systems, stand to do the same things for the public sector that it did for the private sector.

    So it’s all within the realm of the possible. A lot of the other systems – the new IND system, the Inland Revenue/Customes Excise merger, etc., should eliminate some duplication of effort.

    The Gershon Review, the spiritual source of most of the cuts, defined four major areas for review:
    – Procurement, focusing on procurement within national as well as local government;
    – Back office functions (HR, finance, ICT, estate management)
    – Transactional services (benefits, tax revenue collection, etc.)
    – Policy/funding/regulation improvements via reduction of bureaucracy, elimination of targets where possible, and autonomy in devolved functions

    It’s hard to say if the cuts specified are achievable; but a good 70-80% of those are definitely within the scope of the Gershon Review. Hard to say whether the government is being overoptimistic, or just planning on more sweeping changes than those outlined within the actual review – but either way, a large chunk of that number is probably very realistic (and realistic means "delivers the same or better performance after cuts are applied").

    With that, I find it hard to disagree with the cuts.

    Comment by Gregory Block — 26 Jul 2004 on 10:45 am | Link

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