Thoughts from an active pensioner who is now somewhat past his Biblical "Use-by date"

"Why just be difficult, when with a little more effort you can be bloody impossible?"

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

Public Spending Cuts

I am getting fed up with keep hearing about Government cuts and the Trade Unions telling us how we are all going to suffer.
I don't want cuts, I want savings! I hope that this is what the coalition also want, and if so, why don't they start to refer to them as such.
When we were hard pushed for money (when the children were young and my wife wasn't working), my wife didn't come home from shopping and tell me that she'd made a cut in her spending, she said that she'd made a saving by shopping around. The money from the saving allowed us to reduce our debts.
The government should adopt the same approach; I have absolutely no doubt that many departments could make considerable savings by better management of their budget and reducing unnecessary staff.  I also have doubts as to whether, with good management, it will actually be necessary cut all the things that the Trade Unions are claiming except staff,  and this will probably be achieved by natural wastage.
I am in no doubt that most departments are poorly managed and grossly over staffed. I worked in the Civil Service in the eighties, and at that time staff cuts were made by transferring my area of work to an "Independent Authority". A reduction of some 15,000 civil servants at the stroke of a pen, but of course it wasn't as there were now all the additional liaison and management posts, and we were still being paid by the government.

My daughter has had recent experience of staff reductions. Her small department had thirteen people and was reduced to six. I commented to her that she must be rushed of her feet, and she told me that she had less work than before. Apparently it seemed that the, now retired, boss had effectively been making unnecessary work. Regular written reports were demanded on virtually all aspects of the work in hand; meetings were held at great length invariably involving other departments. All this has stopped, when my daughter needs to talk to someone in another department, she simply phones them and only the two are involved; no meeting of maybe a dozen people, formal minutes and all the rest of the paraphernalia. As she says she gets the job done straight away and not several days later when all those apparently involved have managed to find time to talk about the matter for a couple of hours.

This, I believe is typical of public service as a whole, both central and local government and is largely due to poor management at the top anda n all-round tendency to involve as many people as possible to spread the blame if something goes wrong. No private company would tolerate such waste, and it is time such practices were stopped in government.

I repeat, I don't want cuts, I want savings! My daughter's experience has confirmed that this should be possible without any reduction of service.

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