Greetings from the Planet Vulcan Earthlings
Accountancy is a staid professional. I can see that. So any colourful intervention into the somewhat humdrum lives of finance professionals – even semi-retired ones like me – is always welcome.
I’ve just read this opinion piece from John Redwood reproduced on the Public Finance magazine’s website. Apparently all of my former colleagues busy cutting costs in the public sector are operating under some strange compulsion unwarranted by the different laws of financial physics that operate in deep space.
I was particularly struck by the following section of the post –
Whilst there are cuts in planned spending, total spending carries on rising in cash terms, so all the deficit reduction planned happens through increased tax revenues. The increases in VAT and National Insurance are an important part of delivering this tax-based approach. As we have seen, the main reason increased cash spending delivers some unpleasant cuts is the rising inflation. Bad public sector management in some councils and Quangos adds to the stresses.
Only a politician could have written the first two sentences. Or a practitioner of the old huckster’s art of misdirection: ‘Don’t look at these cuts, look over here at these tax rises.’
The only proper response to the next sentence is one I heard from a youngster on a bus recently: ‘Yeah, right.’
As for the last sentence. Well, there is already sufficient evidence from such well-known left-leaning journals like the Telegraph that cutting Quangos has nothing to do with deficit reduction either.
All of which leaves me with the ‘bad public sector management by some councils’ comment. Local government has consistently outperformed almost every other area of public services. Not only have services generally improved councils have also delivered year on year efficiencies. Real ones. The sort you can spend. A minimum 9% cut in local government funding is more than a bit of stress in the system and it definitely isn’t caused by poor management in any council however much government might wish it were.
Local government leaders have begun to wonder out loud what planet some politicians are living on. I think the answer is obvious isn’t it?