Cutting public spending the right way will be popular

Let me repeat a few old truths, and add a few new examples. I detect a new mood in the public and the media. Many people know public money is being wasted on undesirable schemes, on inefficiencies, poor quality, and on marginal projects. Unlike their government, most votes know this cannot go on on the current scale.

There are some obvious areas of spending to remove.
1.Begin by abolishing the whole ID cards scheme.
2.Stop the centralising computer contracts that have been so badly managed.
3.Abolish unelected regional government in England.
4.Abolish the targets and circulars bureaucracies that ensnare local goverment.
5.Have a couple of years off from legislating more regulation
6.Put through a repeal act, cutting out less desirable or ineffective regulation, so fewer regulators can concentrate on the things that matter.
7. Sell off parts of the banks to cut risk and raise cash
8. Stop all free newsheets and PR materials from government departments for a year
9. Cut the number of Ministers by 10%, reallocating responsibilities to raise their productivity.
10. Cancel all Ministerial and senior official fact finding and non essential visits abroad.

There are some general spending disciplines that need to be introduced into every government department and quango.

1. Place a freeze on all outside recruitment, save in front line roles like teachers, nurses, doctors and service personnel. Seek to appoint from within, and reduce the number of administrative posts each time someone leaves.
2. Place a freeze on new outside consultancy contracts, requiring a senior Minister to consider the case for such work and to sign off on it in exceptional cases where in house staff cannot manage the task.
3. Review all procurement, with a view to buying better.
4. Run down in house stocks which are often large and badly managed. Go over to something closer to a just in time principle for supply.
5. Close all public sector pension schemes to new staff and set up defined contribution schemes instead.
6. Set cost down targets for every sub department and quango.
7. Review corporate plans of all quangos at Ministerial level with a view to identifying substantial cost savings
8. Raise quality targets. Error rates in government are very high, leading to too many expensive complaints and to the need to do things twice.
9. Rationalise building use, shedding surplus space as the staff reductions from natural wastage kick in.
10. Rationalise transport use, which at the moment is wasteful and often not co-ordinated between users.

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62 Comments

  1. Mick Anderson
    Posted July 4, 2009 at 6:54 am | Permalink

    Excellent start.

    Is this official Party policy, and can you guarantee that it will be implemented in full and promptly? It also needs to be explained this clearly and unambiguously in the manifesto.

    Many of us feel that you are the lone voice of sanity, and there are a lot of other Politicians that you need to bring along with you….

    • jean baker
      Posted July 4, 2009 at 10:39 am | Permalink

      Rest assured, John is by no means ‘the lone voice of sanity’.

      • APL
        Posted July 5, 2009 at 7:59 am | Permalink

        Jean Baker: “Rest assured, John is by no means ‘the lone voice of sanity’.”

        I wonder how you know Jean?

        Are you someone high up in the Party?

        Do you say such things with authority?

        Because otherwise, you can only be pronouncing from the same obscured vantage point that all the rest of us view Tory policy.

        Which means such comments are worthless.

        • jean baker
          Posted July 5, 2009 at 9:27 am | Permalink

          The recent poll results more than provide the answer you’re looking for ….. ‘sane’ thinking and democratic rights are not limited to ‘those on high’, but rather the right of every citizen.

  2. alan jutson
    Posted July 4, 2009 at 7:26 am | Permalink

    Its a good start.

    Let us hope that when the Tories get into power (I assume they will but who knows these days) they will take notice of some of your suggestions, as it would seem no other MP of any Party is even coming close to what needs to be done.

  3. THE ESSEX BOYS
    Posted July 4, 2009 at 8:00 am | Permalink

    We and other business-orientated bloggers have covered and advocated many of these suggestions regularly – in our case since 19th June 2004 – but this is an excellent and timely summary that is difficult to fault.

    Our small group intend to reprint and circulate it. As you say there is a public appetite for not just belt-tightening but cutting a couple of further notches and inhaling sharply!
    Brown & Balls are missing this entirely with their fallback to 2001 & 2005 strategies and will be found out by their colleagues even before the electorate hammer them.

    Your summary, as is, should form an integral part of the forthcoming Conservatve manifesto alongside our own slogans of:
    * ‘COMMON SENSE & COMPETENCE’

    * ‘IT’S NOT WHAT YOU SPEND IT’S THE WAY THAT YOU SPEND IT’.

    * ‘WE’LL RUN THE GOVERNMENT – YOU RUN YOUR OWN LIFE’

    Add to these the word ‘SIMPLICITY’ in all systems, structures and documentation and we’re cooking with gas!

    Well done – again – sir!

    • Colin D.
      Posted July 4, 2009 at 10:24 am | Permalink

      A couple more slogans:
      *Honesty
      *Taxpayer value for money
      and thinking of the plethora of useless and badly thought out legislation, and anglicised version of ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!’

    • jean baker
      Posted July 4, 2009 at 10:41 am | Permalink

      Spot on …. I second the motion !

    • THE ESSEX GIRLS
      Posted July 4, 2009 at 4:02 pm | Permalink

      We ladies agree with our friends’ comments above but want to add a few extra thoughts of our own.

      1. As mums we often go into doctors’ surgeries and public libraries and see the sheer volume of leaflets and brochures on display about all sorts of obscure topics. All are produced at taxpayers’ expense. We suggest that the source of each is traced and probably extinguished as 90% are unnecessary and the cost of staff, research and production generally far exceeds the common good and will not be missed.

      2. In support of the above we would like all local and central government projects and proposals subjected to the test of…
      “THIS MIGHT BE A NICE IDEA BUT IS IT REALLY NECESSARY”?
      That’s what we housewives do when we’re trying to balance our own budgets and the test would throw up enormous savings from the way that this government has introduced so many ideas.

      3.It seems to us that many people doing misguided or inefficient work will lose their jobs in the early months of the next government and it will be difficult for them to find another without some pre-planning on the part of that incoming government.
      Our friends THE ESSEX BOYS have often put forward the idea – on this site, to Westminster politicians and to Essex County Council – that meaningful jobs should be craeted for the lesser skilled or those temporarily – or even long-term – unemployed to replace the kind of work that in bygone days existed in offices, factories and mines.
      They have advocated a NATIONAL or COUNTY SERVICE with 3 main divisions, each with its own work ethic and ‘esprits de corps’:

      *MILITARY (training &/or recruitment) *ENVIRONMENTAL *WELFARE

      Anyone applying for unemployment benefit would automatically be offered a position and so would those on disability benefits as many of the jobs available would be suitable. Payment would be at the level of current benefits plus, say, 10%; anyone refusing would receive current benefits LESS say 10% but only for a short period.
      The genuinely disabled would of course still be entitled to current benefits.
      The army of local and central government employees made superfluous after the swathe of savings from the Waste Elimination program would form the administrative backbone of setting up and administering the service which would perform a tremendous shot in the arm for our country’s young, poor, disadvantaged and sheer bone idle members of society.
      As mums we see these folk all around us and we hope that some bright politician reading this will see that it’s all very well talking endlessly about ‘finding new jobs’, ‘re-training’ and the like but that we MUST find genuine and lasting work opportunities before we have on our hands a disillusioned and dangerous rump of 10 million British citizens.

      THANK YOU.

      • SJB
        Posted July 4, 2009 at 9:36 pm | Permalink

        It’s a bit of a tall order, isn’t it? Asking the Conservative Party to start planning to create five million “meaningful jobs” in the few months remaining until the general election. Will these divisions have to wear Hugo Boss uniforms and sing ‘Tomorrow Belongs to Me’?

        • THE ESSEX GIRLS
          Posted July 5, 2009 at 8:48 am | Permalink

          Ha ha Sceptical Joe Blow if we have your acronym right!
          Yep, it IS a jolly tall order and clearly needs time and planning…so best to start soon (like we gals tend to do when faced with a big job!)

          However we also advocate that the Tories make clear that they have what we call a ‘WORKING TOWARDS’ Manifesto that acknowledges that Rome wasn’t built in a day…and by the same token Britain won’t be re-built even in many days such has been the damage done in recent times.
          Not only is this a realism the voters will appreciate but it starts to lay the groundwork for 2 to 4 terms in office. The next government will need all of that.

          For example our Essex Boys chums and partners have previously advocated here that the next Manifesto asks for a term to renegotiate our EU terms with a membership referendum at the start of term 2. JR we think supports that stance.
          We should be ‘WORKING TOWARDS’ on other matters too but this one – of the meaningful utilisation of time by the young and unemployed – is so central to many of society’s ills that we very much hope a nettle will be grasped without delay

      • THE ESSEX GIRLS
        Posted July 5, 2009 at 6:41 am | Permalink

        ….oh, and we meant to add that ‘PRIVATE EYE’ should be regular required reading for those invoved in Operation Waste Eliminination!
        It’s remarkable the number of inefficiencies and downright scams they report on every fortnight and we wonder whether anyone in government ever tracks these – let alone gets sufficiently het up to do anything about them?

  4. figurewizard
    Posted July 4, 2009 at 8:10 am | Permalink

    I would add stopping all PFI and renegotiating the existing schemes. I would not rule out using the threat of nationalisation so as to encourage a better deal for the taxpayer in the long term.

    That might be a radical first for a Conservative government but then so is PFI and a pretty poor one at that.

  5. Brian Tomkinson
    Posted July 4, 2009 at 8:14 am | Permalink

    As usual you are prepared to state your opinions openly and clearly. I suggest that the public sector pension liabilities and the PFI projects be added to your list.

  6. Acorn
    Posted July 4, 2009 at 8:19 am | Permalink

    Can I suggest number 11 for your list JR.

    “Rationalise employment law such that it is easier for employers to take a chance on employing an individual and dismissing an individual should he consider it necessary for the good of the business and the continuing profitability of ALL its beneficiaries.”

    Caution? the following link may cause severe depression in the provisional wing of the Redwoodian Alliance. You are recommended to stay clear of all breakable objects!

    http://www.employmenttribunals.gov.uk/FormsGuidance/jurisdictionList.htm

    • Bazman
      Posted July 4, 2009 at 10:21 am | Permalink

      Cough! Hack! Sorry for this comment Guv it’s ard for likes of us to get work these days. Cough! More free enterprise is the solution.
      Your point is that all companies should be allowed to hire and fire at will? you, you, and…. you at the factory gates?
      The only beneficiaries in most companies are a few people at the top and some managers implementing their strategies.
      Not everyone is a nice middle class chap or Gel working for a family yacht company.

      • Stuart Fairney
        Posted July 4, 2009 at 8:20 pm | Permalink

        If it’s hard to sack someone it’s hard to employ ’em

        Anyone who runs a company will tell you this.

        You should listen as they pay the bills and without them, you DON’T EAT

      • jean baker
        Posted July 4, 2009 at 8:34 pm | Permalink

        Cough, hack …. sorry mate, yer can’t alter peoples’ birthright or ability to create wealth and jobs for the working class as you probably like to call them, ‘though REAL job creators works longer hours and takes all the risks.

        Lots of jobs available as ‘box tickers’ working for Nulabor thanks to HUGE borrowings against taxpayers which will put you, your children and their children in debt for years. Pay is minimum wage, unless you’re ‘Xecetiff’ material but if yur don’t toe the party line, then Gawd in heaven ‘elp you. Could end up in the ‘media stocks’ ……

      • Acorn
        Posted July 5, 2009 at 9:00 am | Permalink

        Bazman, can I just link you to this article. Keep in mind that this case was only based on one element of employment legislation. There are similar attempts to make a living out of litigating against companies across the whole panoply of legislation. As you will have seen on this employment Tribunal’s report.

        http://www.hrmagazine.co.uk/news/865693/Serial-litigators-warning/

        The Tribunal’s stats report is at:-

        http://www.employmenttribunals.gov.uk/Documents/Publications/EmploymentTribunal_and_EAT_Statistics_v9.pdf

        • Bazman
          Posted July 5, 2009 at 8:30 pm | Permalink

          All very interesting. Let me sum up for all you right wingers. Employing and using. If you are using them I am right.

  7. Stuart Fairney
    Posted July 4, 2009 at 8:33 am | Permalink

    And if i may

    ~ abolish local education authorities as a needless tier of red tape, allow schools to directly run themselves
    ~ abolish local health authorities as a needless tier of red tape, allow hospitals to directly run themselves (if the highly paid chief execs can’t do this they are redundant)
    ~ reduce the number of MP’s and equalise their constituency demographic numbers as Mr Cameron has suggested
    ~ pass mandatory sunset clauses on every quango. Unless there is an overwhelming and enduring case for retention, abolish them and terminate thier functions (don’t simply transfer them elsewhere)

    And the really contraversial one…

    ~ abolish the rate support grant. Make local authorities fully responsible for their own revenue so let ’em keep business rate receipts. The current system is a ‘push-me-pull-me’ mess with each branch of government blaming the other for the finances and no-one is really accountable.

    • jean baker
      Posted July 4, 2009 at 3:31 pm | Permalink

      Local health and education authorities worked and performed well pre Labour’s arrival in 1997.

      Abolish labour’s ‘stealth Council tax’ – reinstate the readily affordable rates system whereby each and every household contributes to services they receive, receipts to be managed at local level. The cost involved in dealing with ‘exemptions’ is mind blowing – a total waste of money.

      • Brian Tomkinson
        Posted July 4, 2009 at 9:27 pm | Permalink

        Jean,
        It was the Conservative government, under John Major’s premiership, that intoduced the Council Tax in April 1993.

        • jean baker
          Posted July 5, 2009 at 9:37 am | Permalink

          The purpose of which has been increasingly abused since Labour’s arrival in 1997. It’s become a ‘stealth’ tax on the hardworking and prudent and a ‘boon’ to rising numbers on benefits.

          Government funding is determined ‘politically’ – Labour run Councils receive vastly higher revenues than Councils run by other parties.

          Many OAP’s are paying the equivalent of a mortgage for ‘community services’ – every household using community services – having it’s rubbish collected etc. should pay as the former rates system ensured.

  8. John Moss
    Posted July 4, 2009 at 8:42 am | Permalink

    In order to change public sector pensions, MPs need to take the lead by closing, entirely, their final salary scheme.

    Any MP who wants to stand again ought to accept that their benefits will be commuted to a lump sum and that they will have to re-invest this in to a defined contribution scheme. If they want their final salary pension, then resign at the next election.

    Senior civil servants, quango chiefs and Local Authority staff above AD level ought to be asked to do the same, lower leves could simply have their schems closed and existing benefits maintained whilst they transfer future contributions to a defined contribution scheme.

    Only by taking this dramatic step will Parliament have the moral authority to require other public sector workers to do the same.

  9. Matthew Reynolds
    Posted July 4, 2009 at 8:43 am | Permalink

    John please tell Philip Hammond & George Osborne about these superb ideas as we could radically reduce public expenditure & the budget deficit by applying these policies.

    On top of that to reduce tax avoidance & raise productivity levels to reverse the slide in tax revenues that is fueling the growth in the national debt might I also suggest a dose of Reagan style tax cutting ? Quite simply corporate taxes are too high & way too complex. Business taxes need to come down from 28% & 20% via a 25% across the board reduction taking them to 21% & 15% respectively. Most complex corporate tax breaks could be ended and replaced by one single flat rate relief meaning that companies get a fixed % of the money that they pay in corporate tax back as a refund if they invest at least a third of their pre-tax profits into their business on an annual basis.

    That would unleash a tidal wave of business investment as taxes would pay business to do just that while the UK would be tax competitive again. Higher productivity could get job growth going again too. So if you want to boost tax revenue to lower the public debt and get the dole queues shrinking then rapid action on cutting business taxes sounds quite smart. Today’s investment is tomorrows GDP expansion.

    Quite frankly ending CGT and taxing gains as income for the first two years and leaving them tax free after that point would be a shot in the arm to enterprise and risk taking. The 50p tax band is plain insane and should be dropped faster than a hot brick as are the basic personal tax allowance claw back plan for the wealthy and the attack on top rate payers pensions. The £7 billion tax attack on the very people who the UK economy needs to succeed needs to be axed as does the NI hike as well. VAT could rise by 3% or so to fund these changes. If cutting VAT does not make a difference then raising it to fund the pro-enterprise reforms that I suggest is surely a sound idea whereby the benefits outweigh the disadvantages of this revenue neutral tax reform plan.

    Lower corporate tax rates and some transitional relief to minimize the number of losers from plans to simplify business taxes would add to the PSBR to start with. But as public spending cuts started to bite and as the tax cut fueled economic recovery gained momentum revenues would rise ( as productivity rose & tax evasion diminished) meaning the budget deficit would fall in cash terms & as a share of GDP.

    So yes John you have had some excellent ideas of cutting public expenditure so that public borrowing can come down. But rapid action on corporate tax reform along the lines that I suggest could help tackle the twin perils of excess public debt and soaring unemployment. I hope that is of interest.

  10. marksany
    Posted July 4, 2009 at 8:56 am | Permalink

    Can I add another? Ban back offices and shared services. Doing the work as close as possible to the user is cheapest and best. You should be talking about improving service as a way of reducing costs.

    Have a read of http://www.thesystemsthinkingreview.co.uk for documented examples.

    • THE ESSEX BOYS
      Posted July 5, 2009 at 10:23 am | Permalink

      Matthew – we agreee with your opening comment.

      This seems to have been one of JR’s most effective blogs.
      We’re all brimming with frustration and ideas and we’d like to know that the Tory hierarchy has genuinely connected with them – not the kind of lip service repsponses we all get from our MPs and shadow ministers’ ‘listening and learning’ proclamations… GENUINELY connecting please!

      How about it John?

  11. Neil Craig
    Posted July 4, 2009 at 9:49 am | Permalink

    I also think we should be getting rid of almost all the 200,000 jobs in the Health & Safety Executive, also Housing Planning depts with a side order of cutting those involved in licencing new nuclear plants to enough to check the design has already worked in France or the US. This is no just, or even primarily, to save government money but because the cost to those regulated averages 20 times what it costs government to do the regulating. Removing those 3 alone would release the equivalent close to half the privately employed labour in Britain. It has been shown that there is a strong negative correlation between wealth & death & thus easy to show that the H&S Executive kills several orders of magnitude more people than it saves by wasting economic activity.

    One somewhat dubious but successful tactic which Labour have used & the Conservatives haven’t is the demonising of part of society. Specificly Labour have repeatedly & falsely said the recession is entirely caused by bankers. People like that because it releives them of any blame & ruling politicians do to for the same people. Were the Conservatives to single out the quangoists & those civil servants whose jobs didn’t exist before 1997 & who are spending £200 billion more, after accounting for inflation, than government spent then as being responsible for this mess they wouldn’t be going to far over the top.

  12. IanVisits
    Posted July 4, 2009 at 10:07 am | Permalink

    Australia has a “Productivity Commission”, which amongst various tasks also looks at red tape and regulations and reports on whether the benefits of the regulation offer value for money.

    A recent report for example found that forcing people to register their PrePay mobile phone cost more to administrate than the crime prevention benefits it offered.

    Maybe a good thing for the incoming Tory government to do would be to set up a similar independent body to look at UK regulations and see which are too strong, too weak, or just about right.

    Being independent, it’s recommendations would outside the political sphere, and so the political fuss caused by “cuts” would be neutered – although naturally, acting on its recommendations would still be left to politicians.

    • THE ESSEX BOYS
      Posted July 5, 2009 at 10:17 am | Permalink

      Talking about Australian methods – we’ve previously advocated a place in government for someone we codename ‘THE MINISTER FOR THE WAY THEY DO THINGS OVERSEAS’!

      British government constantly attempts to re-invent the wheel, most notably this past decade in so-called ‘cutting edge’ IT projects with mainly disastrous results.
      Most problems and projects have been encountered in other western democracies so there should be an easy access IT base giving the outline of the way say 10 leading countries tackle a defined number of areas in the major departments.

      Please note…no need for expensive jaunts and jollies by Parliamentary committees. Use the computer and the telephone with the odd conference call to boot!

  13. [[NAME EDITED]]
    Posted July 4, 2009 at 10:12 am | Permalink

    Unadulterated good sense, as always. IF ONLY this happened to be an official Conservative Party blog, then they would have my vote. How much of this post is actually party policy?

    • John Moss
      Posted July 4, 2009 at 7:45 pm | Permalink

      All of 1, 2 and 3, part of 4 and most of 9 is offical policy.

      Other stuff will get done, like slashing targets, but it’s hard to make that “policy” because we would forever be answering questions about which targets. It will just be a cultural thing.

  14. Colin D.
    Posted July 4, 2009 at 10:15 am | Permalink

    A good list. However, with national penury in the offing, I suggest now is the time to review what we pay out to a greedy and wasteful EU and simply dictate a year on year reduction in our contributions.

    • APL
      Posted July 5, 2009 at 9:15 am | Permalink

      ” .. wasteful EU and simply dictate a year on year reduction in our contributions.”

      In the spirit of constructive cross-party ‘renegotiation’ might I suggest a first year reduction of 100% followed by a rise in successive years, a la Brown of 0%.

  15. David Belchamber
    Posted July 4, 2009 at 10:58 am | Permalink

    Thank you for this douche of common sense. Could you some time please shine your spotlight on PFIs – what liabilities already exist, how the government manages to keep them off balance sheet and who owns the assets when they have been paid for?

  16. Demetrius
    Posted July 4, 2009 at 1:24 pm | Permalink

    Well, it would be a good beginning. There would still be a lot more to do, as some comments indicate.

  17. Spent Copper
    Posted July 4, 2009 at 1:39 pm | Permalink

    Excellent post John, with some very good ideas. But are you not missing the Elephant in the living room? All the time we remain in the EU we will be prevented from implementing many of the things we need to do to roll back the State and bring forward economic recovery and, ultimately, prosperity. Dont get me wrong, this is not to deprecate the thrust of your post, I just feel that until we free ourselves from the EU parasite, all our efforts will be in vein.

    • THE ESSEX GIRLS
      Posted July 5, 2009 at 10:04 am | Permalink

      Please read our blog above…

      GUARANTEE A REFERENDUM ON CONTINUING MEMBERSHIP IN THE FORTHCOMING MANIFESTO

      RENEGOTIATE BRITAIN’S TERMS IN TERM 1

      GOVERNMENT DECIDES TO RECOMMEND A YES OR NO VOTE

      REFERENDUM AT THE FOLLOWING GENERAL ELECTION (2014?)

      ps You don’t sound a spent force to us sir!

  18. Think This
    Posted July 4, 2009 at 2:03 pm | Permalink

    All of this is common sense.

    Unfortunately we already know the Health and ID budgets are off limits, and education may be as well. These are some of the budgets most in need of cuts. What we have here is a good plan, but more will need to be done to achieve a smaller state and start paying off our debt.

    • Freddy
      Posted July 5, 2009 at 4:49 am | Permalink

      Sorry, in what respect is the ID budget off limits ?

      And when we say that the Tories will cancel the ID card scheme, does this also mean that they will cancel the National Identity Register computer system behind it ?

      • Think This
        Posted July 5, 2009 at 6:42 pm | Permalink

        ID = International Development. The Tories have promised not to cut it – quite wrong in my opinion. Hopefully that clears things up.

        As for ID cards, its quite right they should go, although the Tories haven’t mentioned anything about the database which is the real problem.

        • Freddy
          Posted July 5, 2009 at 10:37 pm | Permalink

          Right, thanks – and quite agree.

  19. Snegchui
    Posted July 4, 2009 at 2:20 pm | Permalink

    A good agenda. I agree with addressing PFI. This con trick and its application is having and will have vile consequences on the true state of the balance sheet.

    • Freddy
      Posted July 5, 2009 at 8:17 am | Permalink

      On PFI, we should beware throwing the baby out with the bathwater.
      Remember that PFI is a tool that can be used to improve public procurement of services. It is a complicated tool, that needs to be used correctly and in the right circumstances.
      Like any tool, it can be used wrongly, and like anything that can be used wrongly, this government of incompetents has done so in spades. But the tool itself should not be blamed.

  20. Denis Cooper
    Posted July 4, 2009 at 3:07 pm | Permalink

    Basically the government and the economy are now being kept afloat by the Bank of England printing money and transmitting it to the Treasury through the gilts market, and that will have to continue until private investors are once again willing to buy gilts in sufficient quantity.

    Rather than standing aside and leaving the Bank as the major, or only, net purchaser of gilts, see the chart here:

    http://www.spectator.co.uk/coffeehouse/3739718/one-crisis-after-another.thtml

    Which means that they have to believe that the budget deficit is under control, and on a downwards track.

    On the other hand, swingeing cuts in public spending could still send the economy into meltdown and actually increase the budget deficit.

    It seems to me that just as the Bank is creating huge amounts of new money out of thin air to fund the government’s budget deficit, it could equally well create new money to capitalise a financial waste disposal company to remove the “toxic assets” from the system and sort them out – a positive step to help the economy to recover, rather than just a holding operation to prevent it sinking any further.

  21. Matt
    Posted July 4, 2009 at 3:29 pm | Permalink

    John

    I don’t agree with your stance on public sector pensions. I would recommend reading Polly Toynbee in the Gaudiarn today (Saturday).

    I also question the attack on administartive posts. For years administartors have been cut from private and public sector organisations. The result is thousands of hours being spent on general admin by staff skilled in completely different disciplines. I fail to see how (for instance) a trained engineer spending 8 hours a week filing and typing their own letters is good use of resources.

    Otherwise the list seems like blindingly obvious common sense – let’s hope it is a set of ideas shared by the people who can actually make it happen.

    One to add – as per a couple of other commenters above – sort out the PFI fiasco!

  22. Stewart Knight
    Posted July 4, 2009 at 4:21 pm | Permalink

    And that isn’t the half of it.

    Why don’t some of the morons at the top of the Tory party bang on about this, IN SIMPLE TERMS, to really bring home that massive savings are possible?

    Or is that too much to ask and would be dumbing down the political elite too much?

    • Bazman
      Posted July 4, 2009 at 9:05 pm | Permalink

      Marvelous. Should resist but cant.

  23. former tory
    Posted July 4, 2009 at 5:38 pm | Permalink

    Brilliant start! Wanna bet? A Cameron government will do none of this. They will tinker at the edges and acheive nothing.

    • Monty Slocombe
      Posted July 6, 2009 at 9:38 am | Permalink

      I agree with former Tory. Look what happened to Frank Field for “thinking the unthinkable” He was told to do just that, but when he did, was pushed out.

      Common sense does not apply because Orwell was right, the pigs are always in control, and so it will always be until we have a benevolent dictator to grip the issue. Conviction politics are dead; it is now a big business career option for too many, however well intentioned most are at the beginning.

  24. EastendInfidel
    Posted July 4, 2009 at 7:59 pm | Permalink

    A good start John, though not nearly brutal enough, although I guess you have to consider the electoral consequences.

    My list for starters:

    Devolve powers back to the lowest levels possible within the democratic process in tandem with the abolition regional assemblies and all if not most quangos. Take the expensive and self-serving state bureaucracies out of education by funding schools directly, and independently of local authorities. Place powers into the hands of governors (elect some if you must) head teachers and parents. Ditto state housing. Cut back the expensive and wasteful ‘skills industry’ and get back to some proper education and training. Limit local government to a few statutory core functions. Put an end to social outreach workers and translation units. Establish proper controls of our borders and enforce highly restrictive and selective skills-based immigration controls.

    An end to PFI and labour’s funny money financing schemes.

    Critically review all capital programmes. Labour’s ‘money is no object’ approach to some classes of capital spending has been a recipe for gross financial ineptitude, as has been demonstrated recently on the abortive FE college rebuilding programme, which ended in a multi billion pound fiasco. Scrap ID cards. Review and scrap the many useless computer developments taking place by zero based review the findings of which are decided upon at cabinet level. Individual departments are too

    Purge Special advisers and most consultants. The former should be paid for by the political parties themselves, the latter funded by a compensating reduction in the salary budget of the government department employing the consultant(s). If politicians aren’t good enough to master their briefs, or if top civil servants are insufficiently skilled to justify their high salaries, why should the taxpayer subsidize their ineptitude? Limit the number of ministries and junior ministries and reduce the differential between MPs pay and ministers’ pay – up the former (modestly, say to £85k) maximise the latter @£120k, with the possible exception of the traditional great departments of state (Home Sec, Min of Defence, Foreign Secretary).

    Limit top the pay of top civil servants and local government officials to no more than £110k. That should limit the scope for the troughers and empire builders, many of whom are little more than unelected politicians. Skills audit the higher reaches of the civil service and local government to get rid of the unprofessional, politicised New Labour placemen who have flourished since 1997.Ensure that every ministry or government board has on it’s top team a professional qualified and experienced finance director. There are too many gilded amateurs and policy wonk types out there, playing fast and loose with taxpayers’ money.

  25. EastendInfidel
    Posted July 4, 2009 at 8:07 pm | Permalink

    Apologies – typo, missing word- ‘tribal’. Passage should have read:

    ‘Review and scrap the many useless computer developments taking place by zero based review the findings of which are decided upon at cabinet level. Individual departments are too tribal.’

  26. Graham Thomas
    Posted July 4, 2009 at 9:02 pm | Permalink

    Only a start.

    Set targets to cut civil service staff by 50%, end all permanent postings for any service personnel outside sovereign UK territory, review all defence plans to turn them into a DEFENCE force not one aimed at invasion and occupation of foreign countries and pull out of EU.
    You might think this is extreme but wait a few years and peak oil will force these steps and many more far worse. In 10 years or less just finding enough food will be a problem. No doubt most people will think I’m a nut but is it a coincidence that the credit crisis happened just at the time of the highest oil price? Mark my words 2007 was the peak of industrial civilisation and life will never return to what it was then.

    • Freddy
      Posted July 5, 2009 at 4:55 am | Permalink

      Yuo’re not a nut, but you believe too much rubbish you read from the doom-sayers. Particularly peak oil, which looks like the same tosh we have been having since the 1970s.

  27. Mark
    Posted July 4, 2009 at 9:37 pm | Permalink

    I think we need an extra tier of ministers, one in each department. But the new tier would share the salary of a current junior minister to reduce the extra cost. The new tier ministers would spend their time working out what their respective departments do and what it cost to do what the cost of doing that was. Like whips, they would not speak in public. Unlike ministers at present they would not be involved in endless meetings, trips, Parliamentary questions etc. They would actually get to grips with their departments. The expectation would be that each would do at least 2 years in one ministry. It would be part of a “cursus honorum”, above PPS, but below minister of state or whatever. The next general election should produce a large number of new Conservative MPs who should leap at this chance.

  28. Brian E.
    Posted July 4, 2009 at 10:35 pm | Permalink

    Stop departments having useless, politically correct, training courses.
    My daughter, who is in a relatively senior position on the civil staff of a major police force (sorry Service) tells me that all staff have to go on a “female awareness course”. How many man (and woman) hours are being wasted on this rubbish if everyone has to attend?
    As she says “I’m aware that I’m a female, and so, from their words/actions are all the men that I meet. So what’s the problem?”
    Presumably this sort of thing is happening throughout the entire state employment sector. What a waste.

    • Monty Slocombe
      Posted July 6, 2009 at 9:28 am | Permalink

      All “services” seem to spend time and money on all sorts of similar stupid, irrelevant courses because it is governement led. One has to pay the piper.

      The private sector suppliers of goods and “services” are controlled by legislation. If the “services” are not “as described”, or “fit for purpose”, the providers become criminally liable, and the purchaser may go elsewhere for the “service”.

      Why can’t we have similar legislation for the public “services” ? I’m sure this would concentrate a few minds! In the case of the police, Sir Robert Peel’s definition of police duty would not include “being aware of females” He would wonder what it all meant.

  29. Adrian Peirson
    Posted July 5, 2009 at 6:31 pm | Permalink

    Can I suggest we have a good look at the British constitution and simply repeal all the unnecesary stuff legislated over the past decades.
    The British constitution was perfectly workable, the reason why we are in this mess is because MP’s have repeatedly undermined and broken these Laws over many decades.

    http://britsattheirbest.com/

  30. STAN FRANCIS
    Posted July 5, 2009 at 9:57 pm | Permalink

    I detect a new mood in the public and the media.?..do you now John?..take a look at the last elections and instead of Independents being last or termed as others, they now come second to your party that still gets elected on (spin-ed)…..I would welcome policies that are termed as contracts-a new wave of people attitude is COMING-I proved it this election!

    • LOVE...LABOUR'S LOST!
      Posted July 6, 2009 at 9:34 pm | Permalink

      We agree Stan – it’ll be the Independents if not the Lib-Dems who hammer the final nails in Gordon Brown’s coffin next Spring just after the Tories have put a stake thru his black heart!

  31. STAN FRANCIS
    Posted July 7, 2009 at 6:26 am | Permalink

    Well now John Redwood agrees with Stan Francis-But you didn’t say that Tories would go for contracts did you?..we know that all policies cannot always be carried through, but to be ‘seen’ to attempt would be a ‘bench-mark’ would it not?-my only purpose to get elected is to serve the people..I will therefore give ‘firm’ promises that I ‘will’ serve the electorate with whatever issues they need addressing, afterall that’s why we are elected is it not?-or would people say I am naive?…naive or not I doubled my votes this time around and also saw Lab/Green/BNP hit the dust!-coming up four places and NOW just under the grand master of illusions is some triumph?

  • About John Redwood


    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, and graduated from Magdalen College Oxford. He is a Distinguished fellow of All Souls, Oxford. A businessman by background, he has set up an investment management business, was both executive and non executive chairman of a quoted industrial PLC, and chaired a manufacturing company with factories in Birmingham, Chicago, India and China. He is the MP for Wokingham, first elected in 1987.

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