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Sir Gus O’donnell Warns Of Sweeping Cuts In Public Services

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http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/poli...icle6715497.ece

Britain’s most senior civil servant has warned of sweeping cuts in some public services to maintain spending on key government programmes such as those dealing with care for the elderly, obesity and climate change.

In an interview with The Times, Sir Gus O’Donnell, the Cabinet Secretary, suggested that some departments would suffer more than others in the looming spending squeeze.

Asked whether he agreed with a policy adopted in Canada, where spending was cut by 20 per cent and some departments had much deeper cuts than others, he said: “You could envisage a situation where you go for deeper dives on this, most certainly.â€

In a highly unusual move, Sir Gus said that he had also held separate discussions with Alistair Darling, the Chancellor, about a revolution in the way that money is allocated across Whitehall. It would mean that issues spanning several departments would for the first time get their own budgets. They would include specific issues such as global warming, obesity and Alzheimer’s disease

Cabinet secretaries rarely wade into highly charged political debates about spending and Sir Gus hardly ever gives on-the-record interviews. His intervention coincides with comments by Lord Mandelson, the Business Secretary, that Britain faces a decade of public spending “constraints†to “rebalance†its finances. It also follows growing signs that there is likely to be a slimmed-down spending round this autumn, contrary to earlier suggestions. Sir Gus warned that spending would need to be lower than “we have seen in the past decade†and indicated that there would be no extra for government priorities such as climate change and obesity. “We won’t break the bank. It’s not new money.†Instead, many traditional departments could have their budgets sliced by the Treasury to pool cash for key programmes. Under his proposal, ministers would be allocated budgets for an issue such as care for the elderly or climate change and would be responsible for ensuring that results were delivered across Government.

The plan is likely to be resisted by many ministers and civil servants, anxious to protect their empires. But Sir Gus insisted that many issues crossing departments were not being tackled effectively. “I have talked to the Chancellor about this.†Asked if it was under active consideration, he said: “Yes.â€

Sir Gus suggested that lessons could be learnt from the Canadian Government, which cut its spending by 20 per cent over four years to lift the country out of its 1990s recession. Several Canadian politicians have held seminars in London recently, attended mainly by Shadow Cabinet ministers and officials. “There are some lessons for us . . . it was certainly an interesting model,†the Cabinet Secretary said.

Sir Gus, former press secretary to John Major and likely to stay in his post should David Cameron win the election, said the plan for single-issue budgets would have to be part of the next spending round. “However you do machinery of government there will be cross-boundary issues. Some, such as ageing, will not be sorted within the health department alone.†He said that he had suggested allocating budgets across departments. “Climate change is a classic example. Another is obesity.â€

Departments would still have core programmes, but in areas where it was difficult to get ministerial collaboration you would have an extra central pot of money as an incentive. Yesterday Sir Gus also outlined Civil Service reforms. In future permanent secretaries will be held to account over innovation, collaboration with other ministries and the delivery of results.

The new performance tests, which could be linked to pay, are intended to ensure that ideas from the front line are considered and tested with Whitehall backing.

"They want to save the system but they can't." - CGNAO

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Guest DissipatedYouthIsValuable

Well, if you're looking for the expensive small incremental gains in health, there's an IT project which is very expensive.

And a big administrative burden in managing a target based general practice system.

A recommended antiflu drug of questionable efficacy.

A flu vaccine which may not keep up with the documented mutating flu virus.

Of course, it's those pesky humans who are the main cost, and their pesky big mortgages.

Debt forgiveness in exchange for wage drops?

Edited by DissipatedYouthIsValuable

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Debt forgiveness in exchange for wage drops?

Seems a reasonable idea, the rich wouldn't go for it as they might lose some zeros from their ego.

Edited by interestrateripoff

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Well, if you're looking for the expensive small incremental gains in health, there's an IT project which is very expensive.

And a big administrative burden in managing a target based general practice system.

A recommended antiflu drug of questionable efficacy.

A flu vaccine which may not keep up with the documented mutating flu virus.

Of course, it's those pesky humans who are the main cost, and their pesky big mortgages.

Debt forgiveness in exchange for wage drops?

Britain’s most senior civil servant has warned of sweeping cuts in some public services to maintain spending on key government programmes such as those dealing with care for the elderly, obesity and climate change.

How about this for a solution for key government programs:

Care of the elderly - introduce middle classes old age tax or confiscate pensions lump sum

Obesity - introduce VAT on food

Climate change - Add "green" supplement to energy cost to start at say £200 per household. Increase taxes on shipping and tax global trade

(ps These kites are already flying)

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>"Old boys concerned"

The Old boys should have seen it coming and stopped Gordon letting it get out of control.

I have some hope that Sir Humphrey has a file on Gordon to get him booted out sooner rather than later.

VMR.

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Guest DissipatedYouthIsValuable
If there's one thing they won't need to worry about it's the obesity epidemic.

Cheap food and people lounging around on benefits will soon be a thing of the past.

The flu might end up knocking off the fatties anyway.

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Why is the government meddling in obesity? Let the people get fat, if thay want to and can.

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Why is the government meddling in obesity? Let the people get fat, if thay want to and can.

They make everywhere look so unsightly though.

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Guest DissipatedYouthIsValuable
They make everywhere look so unsightly though.

We should all be non-smoking jogging monoclones with perfect teeth.

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We should all be non-smoking jogging monoclones with perfect teeth.

Yes, that's the idea. Happy shiny people holding hands. You should cut down on your porklife mate, get some exercise.

Edited by Minos

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How about this for a solution for key government programs:

Care of the elderly - introduce middle classes old age tax or confiscate pensions lump sum

Obesity - introduce VAT on food

Climate change - Add "green" supplement to energy cost to start at say £200 per household. Increase taxes on shipping and tax global trade

(ps These kites are already flying)

food SHOULD be priced out for the poor....crisps are already 35p a bag ( about a tenth of a potato).

let them eat lard and 10p loaves of bread.

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The objective is to cut spending.

The solution will be to raise taxes.

thats because cutting taxes COSTS the government. I hear it ever year in the budget...We are giving away the 10p tax band at a COST to government of £xbn.

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We should all be non-smoking jogging monoclones with perfect teeth.

Perhaps we should introduce 'food free' restaurants. Patrons could sip glasses of fizzy mineral water. If they want to eat, they can stand outside in the rain munching on burgers. People shouldn't be subjected to the harmful fat vapours eminating from food...

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Perhaps we should introduce 'food free' restaurants. Patrons could sip glasses of fizzy mineral water. If they want to eat, they can stand outside in the rain munching on burgers. People shouldn't be subjected to the harmful fat vapours eminating from food...

They had that in the late eighties. It was called nouvelle cuisine!

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Guest DissipatedYouthIsValuable
Perhaps we should introduce 'food free' restaurants. Patrons could sip glasses of fizzy mineral water. If they want to eat, they can stand outside in the rain munching on burgers. People shouldn't be subjected to the harmful fat vapours eminating from food...

You'll be suggesting banks with no money in them next.........

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The flu might end up knocking off the fatties anyway.

Would not surprise me if Swine Flu was by World Govt design to bring down the population a bit. Knock off a lot and then suddenly, oh look we found a cure. Amazing its appeared right in the middle of a bad economic depression.

Edited by sunonmars

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Would not surprise me if Swine Flu was by World Govt design to bring down the population a bit. Knock off a lot and then suddenly, oh look we found a cure. Amazing its appeared right in the middle of a bad economic depression.

woldnt be good for the banking system as defaults and insurance payouts would be beyond the amount of money in the world.

and surely a power mad government wants the MAximum control of the maximum amount of people.

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Cuts in the public sector to help get out of recession are surely counter-productive as it puts a lot more people on the dole? There will just be more people claiming benefits, less tax revenue and less money being spent in the shops.

Having said that there is a lot of things they can cut back on. All these new computer systems that cost millions and don't work for example.

I have just heard as well that, during the biggest recession in 80 years, my Department is sending 4 people to Montserrat for some training course. Complete madness. How they can justify something like this is beyond me. All expenses paid of course.

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