Not all cuts are the same

2 Jul 2010 by Karl Hallam

There is no disagreement that there needs to be cuts to public spending, but that is where the agreement stops. What to cut, when to cut it and why to cut are all areas of conflict across and within political parties, the media and institutions like think tanks. We have discussed here in the past the dangers of cutting without understanding which bits of a system help and which hinder. The new government, understandably, talks about cutting out the waste that the last government created. Nobody can argue with cutting waste, but defining what is waste is not easy. The debate about police numbers is a case in point. Cutting out 'faceless pen pushers' in favour of more 'bobbies on the beat' is the populist refrain, but if those backroom people take away administrative burdens from PCs ... Mark Easton, Home Editor of the BBC has done some great work on this issue.

A blog called Flipchart Fairy Tales makes the point nicely and relates to the need of innovation (see Cadence Works on innovation), it says that 'I am sceptical about the level and speed of innovation that can be achieved in the public sector. However, that is not a reason to dismiss the idea out of hand. If the public sector is to maintain anything like the level of services we have become used to, it will have to do something radically different, and fast. There are certainly inefficiencies in the public sector and there are surely more effective ways of doing things. It should be possible to avoid a 25% cut in spending translating to a 25% cut in public services.

The worst outcome of these cuts would be a public sector that is 25% smaller but still just as inefficient. Actually, no, the worst outcome would be a public sector that is 25% smaller but even more inefficient, but let's not go there, eh?'

The rest of the post is good too. 

In our work with 3rd sector organisations the mantra is to get into strategic commissioning as an answer to the loss of grants, but a great ippr report this week suggests that there are not many organisations who are doing this or close to be set up to do it. Many 3rd sector organisations will disappear, what will determine whether a good or bad 25% go? 

 

 

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