£3.75bn Savings or Cuts?
This article on the BBC got on my wick.
Coalition government in an effort to look macho and efficient (and probably to deflect some heat with ‘good news’) has paraded Francis Maude to tell us that the wasteful previous Government and wasters in the public sector are being ‘sorted out’.
‘Staggering savings’ says mr Maude, But are they really? How much is savings and how much are cuts?
I like efficiency so if there are savings to be made then by all means we should be making them. Waste is the enemy of every organisation and government and public sector are no different.
However, efficiency becomes inefficiency when the service deteriorates as a function of a drive to save. So lets look at the list that Macho man Maude has touted round the papers.
- 870m from cutting consultancy spending
- Nearly £500m from reducing spend on temporary agency staff
- £400m from cutting marketing spending
- £360m from centralising spend on common goods and services
- £800m from renegotiating deals with some of the largest suppliers to government, equivalent to 6% of a full year of spend with those suppliers
- £150m from 2010-11 budgets for government’s major projects, by halting or curtailing spending
- £300m by “applying greater scrutiny” to Information and Communication Technology (ICT) expenditure
- £90m reduction on property expenses by “exerting better control” over lease renewal
So which do we applaud and which do we recognise as cuts.
Lease renewal is a bit wibblesome ‘exerting better control’? would that have occurred anyway? (Probably but we’ll let that go)
Centralised spend on common goods and services. Looks good but as I (at work) use a centralised purchasing system I know how much the Public sector gets ripped off by private sector supplier. However, first year savings usually good. One to watch at any rate. So will accept this saving.
‘Applying greater scrutiny’ to ICT. This will be a cut dressed as a saving. ‘Greater Scrutiny’ too vague and should be occurring at all times so not inclined on this one. efficiency losses if equipment and ICT gets old / obsolete as costs also rise for maintenance. As an aside, the support firms for ICT might as well have ‘stand and deliver’ on their invoices.
Renegotiated deals – ask yourself why we allow the Private sector chums of Maude & co to rob the Public purse? they wouldn’t be giving up excess profits if it wasn’t coming back elsewhere. Contract law not easy to change deals.
£500m cuts in temporary staff. Cuts. If the posts were needed, then they were needed. who is taking up the slack. Bigger burden on remaining staff and a deteriorating service.
£150m by cutting or halting projects – Cuts.
Cutting consultancy & cutting Marketing spending. The clue is in the statement, cuts. These have a wider impact on the economy and the service we receive. Consultants are consulted to make savings and give advice to ensure better decision-making. Easy to say waste but they are often massive savers of costs.
Marketing is a critical business function, but how much Government need to spend on Marketing I am not entirely sure. Some I would expect, but it looks like an easy target but may not be any more effective if spending cut.
So from the above there are some savings but there are some that are cuts.
Less than half of the list are really savings (90m + 300m + 360m + 800m) and some of these are iffy at best.
The rest of the headline is based on cuts.
Not something to trumpet in my opinion. Add to this
17,000 civil service posts were cut between May 2010 and March 2011 as part of measures to cut the UK deficit.
Maude ‘Is just scratching the surface’ which doesn’t bode well for public sector next year. More so it shows his mindset that Public sector needs to be savaged to minimise its role in the country.
Also he wants to centralise control over spending decisions
‘Officials now have to get Mr Maude’s approval on a range of spending decisions, including any marketing proposals costing more than £20,000 and ICT projects costing more than £1m.’
So Frannie wants to turn the taps on and off as he decides. Is this good governance or political interference.
Efficiency isn’t just cuts. It’s about time that someone told Mr Maude.
£3.75bn Savings? my arse.