It is very easy for the Chancellor to call for 25 per cent public-sector cuts. But if this isn’t to harm the least well off, I ask the Chancellor to apply his 80:20 rule to these cuts too: 80 per cent from overheads and back room, 20 per cent from front line.
My experience is that councils can deliver excellent targeted local services, and of these I argue for more, not less. But they waste colossal sums in planning, managing and checking these, and then in planning, managing and checking the planners, managers and checkers.
One council department I know spends nearly £10m a year overseeing some 10 contracts worth £50m. There are 200 head-office staff doing the work of 20. But ask these staff where the cuts should fall and they will of course say cut the contracts – not the payroll.
If the Chancellor doesn’t challenge this, backroom staff will heave a sigh of relief while frontline services are reduced drastically – and his cuts will indeed hurt those most in need.
Where on earth could that ‘one council department I know’ be?