Sunday, 20 September 2009

The Conservatives Cuts List

John Redwood has published a list of Conservatives Cuts. I have my thoughts after...

We recommended major changes in the way Whitehall works, and big cuts in the overhead costs. Our list of cuts included some now familiar items:
1. ID card scheme to be scrapped
2. Abolition of unelected regional government
3. Cutting the number of quangos
4. Recruitment freeze to cut the number of civil servants
5. Reduction in use of external consultants
6. Changing the culture of public sector management, with PM and Chancellor providing a lead for higher quality at less cost
7. Clarifying accountability so any higher paid staff that were retained had specific tasks and performance monitoring
8. More trials and fewer errors – always pilot new schemes before national roll out
9, Break public monopolies – competition will drive higher quality and lower cost
10. Reward best practise

1. Yes.
2. Yes.
3. Yes.
4. No. OK. I want to see the number of civil servants reduced, but are the Conservatives saying that in every single area of government that we are overmanned to the point where natural wastage won't present problems? Because I don't and nor do the Conservatives (although most are overmanned).
5. So, you have a new government requirement because of an EU directive (which the tories will have to implement). Who's going to do the software considering that you've got a recruitment freeze and you aren't prepared to increase the level of consultants?
6. Naive stupidity, as though leadership by one group influences people (rather than incentives).
7. Target bollocks which will be written in haste and the civil servants will game the shit out of.
8. More bollocks. Some things can't be targetted except nationally.
9. Yes. But I'll believe it when I see it from this lot.
10. See point 7.

The real problem with all this is it is soundbite simplification which will be translated into terrible policy. It's "across the board" bollocks and it never works. It requires:-

1) Working out what you want government to do.
2) Planning how to organise that
3) Adding or subtracting the required number of staff to do that in the right places.

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