Posted tagged ‘public services’

When is an efficiency not an efficiency?

November 1, 2010

A bright idea in an efficient age...

I had an eventful day last week and for some reason it has taken me ten days to process it into actual thought. I was being trained as part of our council’s commitment to identifying waste and delivering efficiency within services.

The word ‘efficiency’ here is the important one. When most people us the word efficiency they usually mean doing the same thing with less inputs. This common understanding allows the Government to constantly claim large ‘efficiency’ savings without the public asking the question; ‘if services are £25 billion cheaper what are the Government not doing any more?’

George Osborne announced £4 billion worth of savings in central Government administration as part of the CSR. I’m sure most neutral observers thought ‘Hurrah, more money for the NHS’ or something similar.

The problem with all this ‘efficiency’ is that the sheer amount of it tends to devalue the term a little. No-one really believed that Gordon Brown’s pre-election efficiency commitment and to be honest I doubt that many people believed George Osborne with his £4 billion. (more…)

The axeman cometh

September 28, 2010

In a right old pickle?

Eric Pickles loves nothing better than to cut things. Be it road signs, Chief Executives, Audit Commissions or local government targets his instinct is to cut first and ask questions later. A reformer or incrementalist our Mr Pickles is not.

So it was not surprising to hear that his commitment to wielding the axe had yielded him a place on the Government’s Star Chamber.

For the uninitiated, a place on the star chamber is a sign of two things: 1) That the Minister in question is seen as capable of giving their colleagues a challenging time over the cuts that they are proposing (or not proposing). 2) That they have already come to an agreement with the treasury detailing how much they will trim from their budget and where it will come from.

The fact that Mr Pickles is amongst the first two Ministers to graduate from grilled to griller can only fill those of us in Local Government with dread.

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