Peter Hoskin

What can Green achieve?

What can Green achieve?
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Handbags across Whitehall this morning, as Vince Cable responds to the government's appointment of Sir Philip Green as an efficiency adviser in a disgruntled, if evasive, manner. He tells City AM:

“There’s a lot I could say on this, but I’d better miss this one out ... I’m tempted to comment, but I think I’d better not.”  

Such concerns miss the point, though. Green may not be a poster boy for belt-tightening, but the spoils he so clearly enjoys are the result of very successful business career – and one predicated on turning around failing, debt-ridden institutions. If he can bring anything like that vigour across to the public sector, then we could all stand to gain.

But even Green might find it difficult to beat this particular system. There is, of course, a lot of waste in government – but these efficiency drives still often come to very little. Indeed, another knight of the realm – Sir Peter Gershon – was appointed to advise the Tories on this before the election, and was thought to have identified £12bn of savings that could be implemented this year. But that advice has since slipped into the murk of government.

In the end, identifying savings will be the easy part for Green. Making them stick is the real challenge.