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Monday, December 14, 2009

When initiatives go awry

Having spent over 25 years as an elected representative I am well aware of the problems of driving through efficiency initiatives in the public sector. The problem is that unless you are very careful and keep on top of it constantly, the bureaucracy expands to fill any available space. Thus if you save money in one area, before you know it that cash is being eaten up elsewhere and in most cases it is not on anything productive.

The Government appears to have run headlong into this phenomenon if this article in yesterday's Independent is any guide. They report that a previous Whitehall "efficiency drive" led to more civil servants and bigger departmental budgets. They say that this casts doubt on the Prime Minister's latest initiative in which he pledged to reduce Britain's £800bn national debt with a package that he believes will save £12bn over four years.

The package, unveiled two days before Alistair Darling's pre-Budget report, includes plans to "name and shame" overpaid public sector workers and use crime maps and online school reports to cut overheads and halve the budget deficit.

However, according to an investigation by The Independent on Sunday, five years after the Government pledged to slash more than 100,000 Civil Service jobs following an efficiency review by Sir Peter Gershon, the workforce and spending on Whitehall departments has actually increased:

Although ministers claim success in hitting Gershon-inspired targets, an analysis of 17 of the 21 departments shows the payroll has risen from 525,000 to almost 540,000 since 2004; budgets have soared from £143bn to £180bn; and staffing numbers conflict dramatically with government figures, which put the civil servant headcount at about 496,000.

Details tucked away in the latest annual reports and accounts reveal that seven departments admit increasing staff levels. But even those that maintain they have cut numbers have been accused of merely shifting staff to other departments or into a growing number of semi-autonomous quangos, which are still funded by taxpayers' money.

They point to a book called 'Fleeced' by David Craig and Matthew Elliott, which traces some £3,000bn of public funds they believe have been mismanaged in the past decade. They claim the Cabinet Office "cut" 958 jobs in three years by transferring hundreds of staff to berths elsewhere in government.
My Job center Plus laid off lots of people, lot of advisor's were part time or working as sub contractors, of course Blair and Brown messed up big time we had a rise in unemployment and the job center sent out letters asking for people to either come back, or people like me to apply for jobs. Which i did but again I suspect my wheelchair stopped me getting a job. But now the job centers are back up to full strength. It's easy to talk about cuts when things are going well, but sadly they have not been going well for new labour.
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