Budget June 2010
Ouch! Well, here it is and, in many respects, no surprises. And despite the fact we knew it was coming it still comes as quite a shock – and so it should. Without being apocalyptic, it really could see the end of the state as we know it. The private sector takes us to the brink of collapse and the solution is – more of the private sector! The public sector bails us out and what do we get – less of the public sector with fewer resources to monitor, control and regulate an economic system that is prone to distortion! And far less of a public sector that protects the most vulnerable.
I referenced, in an earlier blog, that the life of a councillor would be even tougher from 2010 because who wants to get elected to just spend all their time deciding what is the least-worse place to cut expenditure. Well, that ‘least-worse’ place has just got more difficult to find, with a real cut of 25% over the next four years.
This isn’t deliverable by yet more salami slicing; yet more shared services; yet more efficiency gains; yet more privatisation; yet more ‘creative thinking’. All these may help, at the margins, but it really is the cessation of services as we know them. And all the baloney about cuts being reduced if “….we can find any additional savings to social security and welfare beyond those which I will shortly outline, then that will greatly relieve the pressure on these departments and that 25% figure.”, as the Chancellor stated yesterday, is simply hot air since where will more than half a million people made redundant or retiring early from front line public services receive any income? With a large proportion of public sector budgets buying private sector services where will all those made redundant as a consequence of cuts on this scale receive any income? From social security and welfare! Like others, my biggest fear is that the recession that this will create will increase the transfer payments and feed into that further spiral of decline.
The implications for all of us who are stakeholders in public services are serious – very serious. Organisations will require support and consultancy (even if seems morally challenging to engage external organisations to help minimise the impact on services users) and smaller consultancies (such as ours) must be in a position to offer value for money in what will be an equally difficult period ahead. Fees will come down – they already have – and there will be many more consultants looking for work. But in this period of austerity, fast moving, low cost, high value consultancies have to be the first choice if support is required and we will continue to offer such services throughout this period.