Friday, September 11, 2009

Cuts Battle Gets Breath Of Fresh Air

Voters suffocating in the spin of spurious 'cuts' have been given a breath of fresh air in a ground breaking report spelling out exactly where the axe should fall. New bedfellows, the TaxPayers' Alliance and Institute of Directors, have come up with a sensible £50 billion shopping list.

The public is being taken for a general election ride as the battle of the cuts hots up. Neither party is prepared to come clean with concrete cuts. But swinging cuts are on the cards to tackle the country's mounting debt crisis. To pretend otherwise is a deceitful false economy.

Now the respected employers organisation, the Institute of Directors (IoD) and the Taxpayers' Alliance pressure group (TPA) have joined forces with detailed proposals to save £50 billion of annual public expenditure in 32 painless steps.

The Orange Party has been take aback by the breathtaking detail from the two uneasy bedfellows. It is a lesson on how to cut spending without destroying essential public services. Add scrapping Trident and ending the wasteful Afghan War and it starts to add up.

The usual worthy suspects are there but there's more including: scrapping the useless NHS computer (saving over £1 billion) and ID cards, freezing public sector pay (saving over £6 billion), halving spending squandered on consultants (saving £1 billion), scrapping failed Sure Start (saving £1.5 billion) and wasteful Building Schools for the Future (saving £2.5 billion).

Cuts are not painless. You pays your taxes and takes your choice. But the report does set out options for reducing the crippling £175 billion debt burden after the pre-election political posturing.

The heat is on in the general election phoney war. Cuts are inevitable. Even dithering Darling has come clean about the dire state of the public purse. Cameron is starting to look like a man with a cuts plan. But both parties prefer to keep their powder dry rather than hand over ammunition to the enemy.

The report "How to save £50 billion", lays out detailed proposals to save £50 billion a year of public spending with a series of 32 practical steps which have the potential to save £42.5 billion a year from 2010-11 and a further 2 steps saving £7.5 billion that could be introduced from 2011-12.

Any talk of cuts should come with a health warning. Big public spending cuts could kill economic recovery and lead to mass unemployment but something has to give. The spoonful of £50 billion spending cuts would help the medicine go down instead of the mother's ruin of more reckless borrowing.

The Institute of Directors director general, Miles Templeman, reckons that large sums can be saved without hurting vital services. "We hope this will start a serious public debate about the best ways money can be saved, and whether the state needs to withdraw from certain activities it can no longer afford.”

The Orange Party is impressed. None of the usual wishy-washy drivel about "efficiency savings" here. Instead the report zooms in on reducing or removing unproductive items of government expenditure that don’t work, or are not essential.

Voters are no fools and they shouldn't be treated like fools. Trying to get a head round real government expenditure is a minefield of mind-numbing number crunching, deliberately spun to keep voters in the dark.

A start could be made by following the report's example and making government expenditure a tad more transparent so voters can identify further savings.

Everyone bar MPs, City fat cats and quango cronies have had to tighten their belts in the recession depression. It's time for the government to follow suit and that has to include public spending. The days of the taxpayer picking up the bill belong to boom, not bust.

Matthew Elliott, chief executive of the TaxPayers' Alliance, reckons the proposals offer practical, reasonable ways to save large amounts of money. "Taxpayers cannot afford to sustain the current rate of spending, and they want to see an end to their money being spent unwisely."

Meanwhile beleaguered Brown is due to crawl out of the bunker for a cosy chat at Chequers with union bosses to stitch up a deal with the Party's paymasters to stave off a cuts kicking as the Party conference season kicks off. That, as the Sun says, is no way to run a country.

The public is fed up with the arrogance of a fag-end government. No wonder deluded Brown's depressed. Show some leadership man. Come clean over cuts. Stop political point scoring and sitting on the fence.

Let the voting public have their say and decide who to trust with the inevitable axe.

Top graphic: News Of The World

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