In business I learned that a budget is no authority to spend. Cash control, eliminating wasteful spending, and having to show a return on money spent, were the mantras of everyday life in business.
Not so in government, as it appears from Sir Philip Green’s Efficiency Review of government spending.
Sir Philip’s report is admirable in its conciseness and clarity. Interviewed by the BBC’s business editor, Robert Peston, he said that the processes involved if the government spending of £191 billion were ‘shocking’.
A couple of Sir Philip’s examples are:
- Between £600m and £700m could be saved on the £2bn telecoms bill
- Government property costs £25 billion annually, and there’s no central control of property leases, with rents being paid for unoccupied offices
If the coalition government can get spending under control, make government more efficient, and get the economy growing, then the UK will be the model for post industrial, post welfare society. It’s a big challenge. But, if Sir Philip Green can identify big savings from wasteful expenditure in less than three months, then there must be other areas of savings too.
Amazingly, all these savings may provide money to spend on vital infrastructure investment in the UK, which would offer employment opportunities.