Budget Cuts

It has been a while since I blogged about anything in particular, but I thought I would share my thoughts on a subject that is in the news daily:  the forthcoming budget cuts.

We are being told to expect hard times ahead and I do believe there will be some harder times ahead.  Unemployment is undoubtedly going to rise as the public sector attempts the meet big cuts in its budget by making staff redundant.  However, do the budget cuts necessarily need to affect the service we receive from the public service as much as we think it will?

We all know that there is a horrific amount of waste in the public service.   Wasted time and resources costs money and the Government should be looking to cut as much of this waste as possible.  Here are some of my ideas:

  • Let’s start with Parliament itself and the waste that goes on there.  None of us have forgotten the horrific abuse of the expenses system that cost the pubic a whole heap of money.  Let’s get Parliament to sit down and really look at the expenses system closing off loopholes and cutting the list of what can and cannot be claimed.  We know where the loopholes exist thanks the media exposing them so let’s get them closed.  It may be a new parliament, but many of the same MPs are still sitting and we shouldn’t forget and let it go.  Might be a bit much to ask for Parliament to do the decent thing, but if they are asking us to accept higher taxes and lower wages, they too should face the same pain.
  • Sticking with Parliament I think MPs should vote to take a pay cut the next time they look at their wages.  They earn a pretty large salary as it is and will no doubt be imposing wage freezes and cuts on public sector workers and they should lead by example
  • Simplifying police procedures so that police officers are not spending so much time in an office and more on the streets.  Each arrest can keep the police locked away in an office for hours at a time as they fill out forms in triplicate, much of these forms repeating the information contained within other forms that they’ve already completed in triplicate.  It’s totally crazy!  Paperwork is a necessary evil in all jobs, but do officers really need to spend hours filling out forms that are essentially pointless as the information has already been recorded elsewhere?
  • Sticking with the Police, the Home Secretary has already announced that she has scrapped pointless policies that waste endless time and resources within the police and cost millions to perform.  However, police forces around the country are unable to live without them as they’ve become so accustomed to meeting targets and filling in forms rather than actually policing.  It’s time the Home Secretary took steps to ensure that Chief Constables are complying with this and ending these pointless processes that were enacted by the previous administration for no reason other than to grab headlines.
  • Moving to the NHS, it’s long been known that the NHS is very top heavy with people doing pointless tasks in a bid to try and justify their existence.  You then get “turn-a-round teams” brought in (at extra expense) to deal with the wastage (yet more pointless wastage).  Let’s streamline the management within the NHS and really look at whether the job being performed is needed or whether the service can survive without it (and let’s do it without employing endless consultancy firms at considerable cost to the NHS).
  • Sticking with the NHS, let’s re-negotiate the GP contract.  We were well and truly done over there!
  • Public sector contracts are another area where we waste money.  Normally big contracts for projects like the ones the Government tender have penalty clauses in them which prevent them over-running and going way over budget.  Instead the Public sector works the other way and instead of the companies employed by the Government facing penalties for over-running the taxpayer is expected to stump up.  This simply wouldn’t happen in the private sector, so why do we put up with it in the public sector?
  • Sticking with public sector contracts.  We need to stop spending money on pointless things like databases that will serve little or no benefit to the public and exist purely as part of a nineteen eighty-four style state.
  • A point that I made early was bout the NHS being very top heavy, but this isn’t something that is not just a problem in the NHS, but in the civil service as a whole.  Let’s comprehensively look at salaries within the public service.  Do they really deserve the value of their salaries or are they even needed.  Let’s start at the top and prune down the way rather than the norm starting at the bottom.
  • The benefits budget is massive and is only simply going to get larger as people start to get laid off from the public sector, but let’s look at the rules so the benefits are really going to where they are required and doing what the welfare state was intended to do:  provide a safety net for those facing a difficult time.
  • We spend far more on defence than we actually need to.  If we were not tied up in illegal and pointless wars we would not need the large armed forces that we currently have.  We are an Island and as such we are surrounded by water.  We don’t really need an army that is capable of starting a war; we need one that is capable of defending us if we are attacked.   Cutting the size of the armed forces and pulling out of Iraq and Afghanistan will save us a heap of cash.  If we didn’t go around targeting countries in the Middle East and sleeping with the USA on their self driven war against “terror” (read war to get oil) then we wouldn’t be as hated by the world as we are and we wouldn’t need to “protect” ourselves by starting a war.

These of course will not bring in the massive savings that we require to bring government spending down to a level that can be described as controlled.  Like the public, the Labour Government was far too happy to splash the cash about on nice things that we didn’t really need and are essentially pointless and this is of course going to come back and bite us.  We were too happy to sit back and allow the Government to spend, spend, spend without really holding it to account.  We are in a mess, but we need to deal with it sensibly.  Swinging cuts are not the answer where they are not properly thought out as they will simply lead to a much longer recovery time and to high casualties – particularly in the North which always suffers more than the south.

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2 thoughts on “Budget Cuts

  1. NIce to find your blog Alistair.

    Interesting thoughts. As a matter of fact the Governement have in actual fact been underhandedly ‘renegotiating’ the GP contract over the past 3 years by significantly moving the goalposts. GP income has been static for a few years now.

    I agree GP’s did well out of the contract but they were getting ‘shafted’ before that [like the technical legal term?] and they still earn significantly less than hospital based colleagues.

    Oh and since when is it okay to go back and renegotiate a contract after it is signed in good faith just because, with hindsight, you lost?

    Blessings brother

    Glenn

  2. Hello Glenn!

    Contracts of employment (particularly in the private sector) are re-negotiated throughout the time that an individual continues to be employed with the company to respond to the various changes that happen in business. It is less usual in other types of contract and as it is a contract it represents voluntary obligations for both parties, thus both parties must be okay with the re-negotiated changes.

    Looking at a particular example – you sign a contract of employment in good faith. The contract has no real provisions for a wage rise and you seek to increase the salary you collect for performing your obligations under the contract. The employer (or an agent authorised by the employer) signs the contract also in good faith – should they simply not entertain your request to re-negotiate your contract in order to achieve a salary increase?

    Hope you’re well.

    God Bless
    Alistair

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