Saturday 14 June 2014

Saturday, June 14, 2014 Posted by Jake 6 comments Labels: , , , , , ,
Posted by Jake on Saturday, June 14, 2014 with 6 comments | Labels: , , , , , ,

Remember those ‘diet breads’: 25% fewer calories per slice? Achieved by 25% smaller slices? Outsourcing companies have used the same ruse to win vast government contracts. Promising great savings (slimming down), achieved by employing fewer and less qualified people and paying them less (less bread). 

Diet breads charged you more to give you less.You risk your health if you don’t understand this. The Tories didn't understand (or perhaps more shamefully, they did). Their fetish for slimming down the Public Sector is proving to be more than unhealthy for Britain. Cutting costs has its price: unqualified teachers in “free schools”; unqualified translators and underqualified barristers in the legal aid system; paramedics doing what doctors used to do; reservists doing what the professional army used to do. And there is more.

The Telegraph reported the chief executive of the Royal College of Nurses complaining of hospitals being starved of staff:

“Understaffing remains a real issue across the NHS, and we know that many trusts are down to the bone in terms of the number of frontline nursing staff they have due to cutting posts to save money....Unsafe staffing levels have been implicated in a number of high-profile investigations into patient safety.”

According to the National Audit Office the Ministry of Defence (MoD) has managed to starve the armed forces by failing to find suitable reserves while continuing to sack the experienced professionals. 

Under Army 2020, by December 2018 the number of trained regular soldiers in the Army needs to be reduced by around 20,000 (down from 102,000); and, by the end of 2018-19, the number of trained reserve soldiers needs to be increased by at least 11,000 (up from around 19,000)….. However, the Department did not test whether it was feasible to recruit and train the required number of reserves by 2018-19."

The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) is starving the justice system. A report by the Bureau of Investigation found:

“budget cuts had led to the CPS losing 23% of its barristers (202), 22% of its solicitors (518) and 27% (296) of its higher court advocates.

That loss in staff correlated with an increase in the rate at which homicide trials failed because the CPS provided insufficient or no evidence after a not guilty plea. This was equivalent to one in twenty homicide cases and represented a rise of 50% compared with 2010. The rate at which the CPS offers ‘no evidence’ had also risen for burglary, robbery, fraud and forgery, and criminal damage trials.”

Problems ran through the courts into the jails. In June 2014 the BBC reported:

“The Ministry of Justice has ordered dozens of already full jails to take more prisoners because the jail population is increasing faster than expected, it has emerged…. Some facilities are already at 150-160% capacity”

"the order to take in more prisoners is very embarrassing for the Ministry of Justice, which has closed 16 jails in the past four years."

On the same day, the BBC also reported that ninety prisoners were on the run from Ford Open Prison in West Sussex. Nick Gibb, Conservative MP for West Sussex, said:

It's becoming a pattern. It says to me the wrong people are being sent to Ford Open Prison…. I sense that because of the constraints on capacity in the prison service that mistakes are being made in that assessment process,"

2014 started with catastrophic flooding in large parts of England. After early denials from David Cameron, DEFRA published figures showing how spending on flood defences had been cut both in real and nominal terms since the 2010 election.

The Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) finally had the towel thrown in on its ‘Universal Credit’ money-saving idea. Having spent £140 million, the government’s Major Projects Authority (MPA)  “reset” the project back to the drawing board

Which is about par for the course from the DWP where the backlog processing benefits by the outsourcing company ATOS, and Personal Independence Payments (PIP) by the outsourcing company Capita, has hit hundreds of thousands of people. The BBC reported:


Of course, there is also the passport fiasco engineered by the Home Office’s cost cutting. In Prime Minister’s Questions, after the usual initial denials, Cameron owned up to a 30,000 backlog:

Dyed-in-the-wool Tories know there is at least one person with a plan to deal with the consequences of all this Austerity. Sporting the reassuring dynamism and blonde curls of a Flash Gordon, Boris “Splash” Johnson has bought some second hand (i.e. austerely cheap) water cannon from the Germans. For why? The Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) have given their opinion in no uncertain terms in a letter supporting the purchase:
“it would be fair to assume that the ongoing and potential future austerity measures are likely to lead to continued protest... In addition, the social and economic factors that are currently being experienced have the potential, when combined with a significant (and often spontaneous) “trigger” event, to lead to the outbreak of significant disturbances.”
Darker green is the most probable outcome.
What would be the cause of the unrest? According to the Office of National Statistics, UK GDP has grown by an average 2.6% per year in real terms (inflation taken into account) since 1948. Bank of England projections indicate that from 2013 we are returning to this long term growth trend.

Booms and busts come and go, as economists well know. The Bank of England's comment is:
Since 1973, there has been one instance of contracting annual output in every decade. These occurred in 1974/75, 1980/81, 1991 and 2008/09.”

The dismal truth is the temporary economic bust of 2008 is being used as cover to permanently reduce the share of national wealth that is spent on the nation. And all the above doesn't even mention permanent cuts to pensions, welfare, job security and more, all done in the name of "austerity". 

Somethings to remember as the 2015 General Election approaches.



  1. Reported in the Guardian:
    "David Cameron warned NHS in danger of collapse within five years.
    Former Tory health minister Stephen Dorrell calls for more spending as King's Fund raises fears over shortage of doctors...

    For the past four years, the government has ringfenced the health service budget from cuts and raised funding in line with inflation, but largely relied on efficiency savings to pay for a growing demand for its services."

  2. Except that's a lie - they haven't "ring-fenced" - the Treasury grabbed back £2billion in underspending last year alone.

    Also last year, Jeremy Hunt spent £1.4bn on NHS redundancies - then spent £3.9 billion filling the gaps with temporary agency staff in the NHS – tripling costs in just 3 years. The temp agencies concerned which are private charge up to £1,000 for a shift.... go figure...

  3. BBC reports:

    "Justice Secretary Chris Grayling has admitted to the BBC that prisons in England and Wales face problems with violence, suicides and staff shortages. But he maintained there was "not a crisis in our prisons", saying the government was meeting the challenges of a rising prison population. It comes as the Isis Young Offenders Institution in London is criticised by inspectors in an official report. High levels of violence were reported at the prison, often involving weapons."

    "The theories on which the chancellor based his cuts policies have been shown to be based on an embarrassing mistake"

    As reported in the Guardian, austerity is based on a simple error in an excel spreadsheet. Get over it! And please, stop the useless cuts.

  5. National Audit Office statement:

    “Local authorities have worked hard to manage reductions in government funding at a time of austerity. At the same time, there is evidence of some service reductions.The Department really needs to be better informed about the situation on the ground among local authorities across England, in a much more active way, in order to head off serious problems before they happen. It should look for evidence of financial stress in local authorities to assure itself that they are able to deliver the services for which they are responsible. It should be clear about the knock-on effect of the various funding decisions taken by departments in Whitehall.”

    Amyas Morse, head of the National Audit Office, 19 November 2014

  6. National Audit Office statement on Legal Aid Cuts:

    "In implementing the reforms, the Ministry did not think through the impact of the
    changes on the wider system early enough. It is only now taking steps to understand
    how and why people who are eligible access civil legal aid. The Ministry needs to
    improve its understanding of the impact of the reforms on the ability of providers to meet
    demand for services. Without this, implementation of the reforms to civil legal aid cannot
    be said to have delivered better overall value for money for the taxpayer."

    Amyas Morse, head of the National Audit Office, 20 November 2014


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