“Slash and burn” OR ‘Trim and Smoulder’?

George Osborne at Conservative Spring Forum 20...

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So it’s here, George Osborne‘s “Comprehensive Spending Review‘,  the day we’ve all been waiting for (or not as the case may be). Is it Armageddon? Should we all be inconsolable and suicidal?

Obviously most will say; it all depends on how it directly affects the individual. Isn’t this one of the single most important contributory factors to why the spending shit hit the fiscal fan in the first place?

Public sector finances have been mismanaged for years by egotistical, self-centred and self-important managers with individualistic agenda methodologies. They have also allowed swathes of their workforce to underperform, whilst regularly dipping into the perks and allowances pots. We have also been in a situation whereby less than 25% of public sector managers have been less than 16% productive during their working day for so long.

That’s just the major failings in the public sector, add to this the scandal of the inefficiencies in the benefits and revenue systems, along with a predominant social acceptance that its OK to sponge from the state, as opposed to grafting for a living, and you should start to see it’s no wonder something had to give!

One of my favourite bloggers argues that; today’s cuts are just very old economics and there is nothing radical in their actions or intentions. In a way I have to agree but don’t we have to start somewhere to try to fix our public spending mess? Isn’t there a need to adjust the way public sectors manage, even if that means cutting off some of their ‘income’ to force their hand? The only problem is (as usual), it will probably take more than simply restricting their cashflow. Many actually need a sound thrashing with a big stick, a few redundancies at the higher end of the public sector wouldn’t go amiss!

As many will know, my main area of interest are the issues surrounding British policing…

BBC News – Osborne unveils spending review: Home Office – Annual budget: £10.2bn – Osborne Outcome: Overall budget to fall 6% a year – What’s being cut?: Police budgets to be cut 4% a year. Aim to maintain “visibility and availability” of officers on beat. (Read more)

On the face of it, the 4% per annum reduction proposal isn’t that savage. At least not as severe as ACPO and the Association of Police Authorities (APA) were initially expecting. My main worry is; how they actually turn those ‘savings’ into a reality.

Ever since the austerity measures were first mooted, leaders within the police service (and its governance) have simply threatened cuts to service delivery and/or a reduction of frontline posts. They have consistently fought shy of; justifying the top-heavy and bloated management structure and, they have thus far, failed to realistically address the disgusting levels of administrative functions. The exact areas that blight the service and have a negative impact upon police officers providing the service which the public crave.

Most forces in my region have already started making reductions; Cleveland Police have outsourced several functions, Durham Constabulary issued redundancy notices to a large proportion of their staff a couple of months ago and even this week, the Chief Constable of North Yorkshire Police has sent out voluntary redundancy proposals to all the support staff. There are however some sensible moves afoot.

The much talked about Northumbria Police and Durham Constabulary merger may have been (temporarily) demoted to a back burner however, I bet it won’t be too long before the heat is turned back up to full blast again soon! It’s also not beyond the realm of possibility for the (so far) voluntary Yorkshire collaboration process to expand and become more formal. I can but wait with bated breath but watch this space!

I can’t help thinking that much of the public doom and gloom thinking  is grossly over fuelled by the media and their overtly emotive reporting methodology. Will the budgetary considerations proposed today make for a better police service? Only if the government fiercely oversees ACPO and gives them a regular slap to keep them in line!

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About Dave Hasney

National Coordinator for UK SMART Recovery - Previously a Recovery Worker and prior to that a Management Consultant and H&S Practitioner - Kept sane by Angling, Good Food, Real Ale & Wine - Cynical thoughts sometimes developed from others.

Posted on 20-10-2010, in Leadership & Management, Public Service Babble, Society Babble and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. The big stick is probably illegal now – some dreadful EU directive I suspect. Inflation may kick in very hard and make the cuts smaller if they are expressed in cash terms, and larger if they are hard percentages. Inflation is stocking up on us because we are printing money and buying government bonds with it.

    The 4% police cuts might be dealt with by cutting pay by 5%.
    £100
    £95
    £90
    £85
    C£82 (couldn’t be bothered with calculation in full).

    Four years to adjust to !8% less pay seems better than one month to adjust to being on the dole. Yet what if inflation over this period is also 5%? Your £100 today reduces to £82, but is worth only £64 in today’s value. To keep up with inflation the £100 salary would be £124.
    So this 4% year on year saving requirement equates to losing a third of pay over 4 years. You’ll get my drift Grumpy.

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    • 21-10-2010 Police Professional Magazine:-
      Yesterday, the Chancellor of the Exchequer announced police funding will decrease by four per cent annually and a total of 14 per cent for the whole CSR period which was welcomed as less than expected. However, the Treasury’s Comprehensive Spending Review document states that the total reduction in central government funding is 20 per cent over the four years, which equates to 5.42 per cent annually. Today, Police Professional learnt the Chancellor’s announcement factored in increases in local council tax precepts which have yet to be decided and many doubt will happen. And 13 per cent of the cuts will be “front-loaded” in the first two years.

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