In the next few days I am going to seek to fill the blackhole in Labour and Lib Dem spending plans by reviewing again what needs to be done to bring public spending more into line with revenue.
There is one area were Labour has proposed large cuts in public spending where I agree – in capital spending.We might be able in the next couple of years to go further and faster than they are suggesting.
In recent years Labour has undetaken five different kinds of capital spending. There has been spending on new accommodation and equipment to expand their growing bureaucratic army. There has been spending on IT and other centralised equipment and replacement accommodation for their existing central services. They have spent on additional facilities in the main service areas like railways, schools and hospitals. They have spent on replaement facilities in the main service areas. They have spent on defence hardware, which I have partly discussed in previous blogs and will not discuss again in this one.
Any company facing a financial crisis brought on by borrowing too much and earning too little stops all but essential capital spending at an early stage in trying to control costs and cash outflow. So should any government.
All projects to expand the bureaucracy should be cancelled straight away. We need to live with what we have got- we need no more government or local government offices, no more quango computer systems to control new parts of our lives, no more new Ministerial and official cars for additional posts.
Many of the projects designed to raise efficiency and to replace existing bureaucratic back up should also be deferred or cancelled. If a project has a pay back of two years of less – if it can save more than its own cost in less than two years – then let it go ahead. If something needs replacing because it is about to cease to function or about to incur very high repair bills, then let it be replaced. Otherwise nice to have or usual cycle replacements need to be put off for better times.
All projects to increase service provision outside hospitals, surgeries and schools also need to be cancelled or deferred. There should be a Mnisterial review mechanism to allow through special cases.
We do need more road and rail space as part of our programme to make the UK a more competitive economy. This is going to have to be financed privately, and paid for by user charges, as this government did with the M6 toll road in the Midlands. There also needs to be a maintenance programme for major public assets to avoid the build up of even dearer and mor fundamental repair.
Promoted by Christine Hill on behalf of John Redwood, both at 30 Rose Street Wokingham RG40 1XU