The shape of cuts to come

A couple of good pieces on the spending cuts in the Grauniad. Unfortunately Polly Toynbee doesn’t provide links to the surveys she quotes but they seem to show that many people still don’t understand the scale of what is to come:

Most people are in the dark about cuts to come. Some 56% still confidently tell Ipsos Mori that the cuts can all be done through efficiencies. Reality isn’t biting yet. YouGov found a majority think cuts have gone far enough…..

So some people think that the cuts have already happened and that’s it! Oh dear.

John Lanchester gives some context in this storming piece.

[A]s Rowena Crawford of the Institute for Fiscal Studies pointed out some time ago, “For the ministry of defence, an 18% cut means something on the scale of no longer employing the army.” No spending at all on roads, and closing the majority of courts – that’s the kind of thing we were being asked to envisage. Cuts at these levels are unprecedented and far, far exceed anything Margaret Thatcher achieved. Labour had already announced £52bn of cuts to come by 2013-14; the new coalition added another £30bn on top. No government has ever achieved anything like that reduction in public spending. To put it in perspective, since 1950 there have been only two periods during which public spending was cut for two years in a row. The coalition is proposing to cut it for six consecutive years. This, it seems to me, beggars belief……

Or, as a public sector HR director put it to me a couple of weeks ago:

We could just about handle a 25 percent cut but with 40 percent, you’re talking about tearing the whole thing up and starting again.

The trouble is, there’s not even enough money available to do that.

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3 Responses to The shape of cuts to come

  1. It’s looking increasingly likely that these swingeing cuts will spell serious gloom by Christmas.
    I also expect that, despite Ed Miliband’s instruction, there will be unavoidable and far reaching public sector strike action. People with nothing left to lose, will do almost anything to preserve their jobs.

    Some very careful thought needs to be given to this sceario.

  2. Pingback: The shape of cuts to come - Rick - Member Blogs - HR Blogs - HR Space from Personnel Today and Xpert HR

  3. james says:

    Stephen, I’m not so sure that there will be widespread industrial action.

    For one thing, it’s probably what the coalition want. Widespread disruption would allow them to push through even more restrictions on trade union activities. After all, you don’t get paid when you take industrial action.

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