Eric Pickles, Local Government Secretary and Former Leader of Bradford Council
The BBC reports that local councils are just about to learn how the cuts will affect them.
The cuts overall are expected to be 15 percent over four years – in real terms.
In other words, their money will “only” increase by a few percent over that period. As I’ve said before on this blog, that kind of discipline is normal in the private sector. But to the public sector, it’s a bit of a shock.
The BBC quotes Tony Travers of the London School of Economics, with the usual doom-laden mutterings from the Left:
There’s been nothing like this in modern times … If you look at, for example, Denis Healey’s efforts in the late ’70s to cut public spending, it had a one or two year impact on public expenditure – including on councils – but nothing like this.
And he said there would be nasty impacts on local services “including social services for elderly and children”.
Eric Pickles, as ever, was robust in his response:
I believe it is possible to cut significant sums out of local authorities by simply improving the way local authorities operate … I’m expecting local authorities to be able to provide more for less, I’m expecting them to be able to provide a reasonable level of service and I think local authorities shouldn’t have some kind of alibi in feeling that these have been imposed from the centre and therefore they’ve got to provide every single cut on the front line.
Well said. The bloated public sector really needs to get its head around this. The words on every year’s council tax bill about how tax increases have been limited by “efficiency savings” need to stop being just words.
The private sector has to actually deliver on increased efficiency every year, or go out of business. The public sector needs to stop treating the private sector as a cash cow, and start treating efficiency as a serious issue.