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July 13, 2004

Re-arrange the deckchairs?

The Thief in Chief, otherwise known as the Chancellor of the Exchequer announced another of his wonderfully creative accounting tricks yesterday. Am I the only person in this country who thinks that if anyone in the private sector attempted to do his or her books in this manner the Serious Fraud Squad would be knocking on the door?

He blithely announces (as he did last year) that Whitehall jobs will go. 80,000 in England and another 40,000 in Wales and Scotland. Hooray! We are all expected to say, look what a wonderfull Chancellor he is, cutting bureaucrats and saving money so we can spend more on Defence, Social Security, and Health Care. Or can we? Can we actually believe this cretin?

Let's look at what he announced last year. Figures of 40,000 Whitehall jobs were to go in the amalgamation of several functions and Departments. This was going to save us even more money in tax. The reality is somewhat different, isn't it? Perhaps these jobs did go? Who knows, Whitehall conveniently doesn't publish these sort of "bad news" figures. What did happen is that the Civil Service pay bill grew almost exponentially. Almost twice the number of jobs were created against those supposedly lost! Watch this space - if he plans to axe 120,000 posts this time around we can expect to see the creation of 240,000 new ones somewhere else!

Part of the problem is that the jobs that go are always possibly the only ones that are actually productive. They are always the people at the actual "coalface" delivering the goods, dealing with the people at counters, on wards, or in classrooms. The new jobs are almost always the ones who just generate reams of useless forms to be filled in to show that the latest batch of meaningless "targets" for this, that, and the next ideological nonsense have been met.

There is only one cure for this. Dismiss every single top Civil Servant - all of them - every last one in a senior post of so-called "management". Then get in people to manage the various functions who actually know what the damned function is, what it is meant to do, and how it is actually done. That will start to save money straight away. It will also scrap every last "Rule Book" with their impossibly complex rules for everything including cleaning one's backside after using a toilet and let people apply common sense at point of use.

Oh, and for God's sake give us a new Government, one that understand that re-arranging the deckchairs on a sinking ship isn't actually going to save the ship.

Posted by The Gray Monk at July 13, 2004 08:22 AM


Morgon's grandfather had a simple plan for cleaning up problems like this at the Pentagon in one business week:

On Monday, come in and fire everybody on the top floor. On Tuesday, fire everybody on the next floor. On Wednesday...

Sounds like the principle is applicable in the UK, too. ;)

Posted by: Russell Newquist at July 13, 2004 02:39 PM