David Blackburn

Efficiency savings are no match for budget cuts

Efficiency savings are no match for budget cuts
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Jack Straw has abandoned what he described as “simply unacceptable” efficiency saving recommendations. This is self-evidently the correct action, as the proposals would have endangered the processes of our democracy for a negligible saving.

Everyone, even the Prime Minister, though grudgingly on his part, recognises the need for cuts. Efficiency savings are part of this process - £5bn a year is wasted by the NHS on middle management alone. However, there is a danger that Civil Servants will make counter-productive and paltry efficiency savings in an attempt to ward off substantial budget cuts. The Ministry of Justice’s proposed skimping on election expenses, rather than the abolish the targets and red tape (a euphemism for civil servants) that encumber law enforcement and the administration of legal aid, is a case in point. The Nimrod Inquiry illustrates that there is nothing new about this approach to cost-cutting, but the age of austerity will intensify the problem. Budget cuts and limiting the scope of government will have to be introduced so that necessary efficiency is not compromised.