Think Tanks

Cutting bureaucracy

14 Dec 2011 07:11:09

New TaxPayers' Alliance report indicates council employees have spent 2,500 working years on paid suspension since 2009

By Matthew Barrett
Follow Matthew on Twitter.

TAXPAYERS ALLIANCEA report (pdf) from the TaxPayers' Alliance released today reveals that 1,328 Midlands council staff have been suspended for a total of 419 years since 2009, costing taxpayers £8.2 million.

If these figures were replicated nationally, in line with the spending power of Councils in the Midlands, the TPA estimates that since April 2009 7,852 staff would have been suspended for a total of 594,816 days, or almost 2,500 working years.

The suspended members of staff have been on full pay, and the average suspension lasts 76 days.

The worst-offending councils include:

  • Leicester City Council, who paid out the most in salaries to suspended staff at almost £1.5 million for 107 incidents.
  • Nottinghamshire Council had 167 cases of suspension since April 2009, the highest in the Midlands.
  • 78 employees across the Midlands were suspended on full pay for more than 12 months.
  • A manager on over £67,000 a year at Newark and Sherwood Council was suspended for 77 days before leaving the authority.
  • An employee of Leicester City Council on a salary of £48,642 was suspended for 872 days. The total wages paid during suspension was in excess of £176,000. This was the largest amount paid during suspension.
  • An employee at Lincolnshire Council on a salary of almost £65,000 a year received over £140,000 during a suspension of 523 days, before being dismissed.
  • An employee of Nottingham City Council was suspended for 950 days – almost four years.

Six councils refused to provide any information, twelve did not provide salary details, one did not respond to the TPA's request, and two did not record requested details of any suspended staff.

Continue reading "New TaxPayers' Alliance report indicates council employees have spent 2,500 working years on paid suspension since 2009" »

8 Aug 2011 06:55:05

Civitas report advocates abolition of Trevor Philipps' Equality and Human Rights Commission

By Matthew Barrett
Follow Matthew on Twitter

 Screen shot 2011-08-08 at 06.55.56

CIVITASJon Gower Davies, a former Head of the Religious Studies Department at the University of Newcastle and a Labour Councillor on Newcastle City Council for 20 years, has written a report for the think-tank Civitas, entitled "Small Corroding Words: the slighting of Great Britain by the EHRC", which advocates the abolition of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, currently chaired by Trevor Phillips, the ex Labour member of the London Assembly.

In the report, Davies systematically critiques the philosophy and practices of the EHRC, and reveals serious research flaws. 

Continue reading "Civitas report advocates abolition of Trevor Philipps' Equality and Human Rights Commission" »

24 Mar 2010 10:36:32

The think tanks demand big cuts from Darling (but don't expect them)

Ahead of today's Budget the centre right and reformist think tanks have been lining up to offer Alistair Darling advice. Here's a summary of what they're saying.

There is an air of unreality about the tough decisions that are going to be necessary, according to Mark Littlewood of the IEA:

“Politicians are not talking seriously about the need for dramatic and speedy cuts in public expenditure. A few billion here and a few billion there are nowhere near enough to restore market confidence. We can’t be expected to make sufficient savings from so-called efficiency gains; there will need to be major cuts to a whole raft of public services. We also need a radical overhaul of our welfare, education and health systems, to ensure that we don’t suffer as easily in future from the sort of reckless and out-of-control spending that has characterised the last few years.”

Eamonn Butler at the Adam Smith Institute agrees that spending needs to be cut:

"Public expenditure has increased by a third since 1997 – and has all that bought us anything worthwhile? We need nothing less than a complete re-think of what government exists for, and which parts of it we want to keep and even expand. But there is room for very large savings in departments, quangos and programmes that have simply grown, but which deliver little of value."

REFORM Andrew Haldenby of Reform has identified the measures being taken by other very indebted nations as examples of what the UK will eventually need to do:

  • Portugal is means-testing more benefits and cutting the costs of the public sector workforce by 1 per cent of GDP.
  • Ireland is cutting the costs of the public sector workforce through reductions in both pay (an average 7 per cent cut for all public servants) and headcount and reforming public sector pensions.
  • Greece is cutting the costs of the public sector workforce through reductions in both pay (a 10 per cent cut in total public sector pay), reductions in full time civil service headcount through natural wastage and cuts in short term contracts.
  • Spain is cutting the costs of the public sector workforce by 2 per cent of GDP through a pay freeze and reductions in headcount through natural wastage and cuts in short term contracts.

He goes on to identify three main tasks for the Chancellor:

  1. The first is to eliminate the structural deficit in the UK public finances and return them to surplus.
  2. The second is to secure economic growth and employment so that the cyclical part of the deficit is eliminated as well.
  3. The third is to reform the UK public sector so that it achieves greater productivity even after the deficit is eliminated, allowing taxes to be reduced.

Matt Sinclair of The TaxPayers' Alliance reminds us of the £50bn list of cuts that the TPA produced with the Institute of Directors.

Yesterday we noted Policy Exchange's pre-budget report and its warning against higher National Insurance Contributions and also higher VAT.

In its advice to the Chancellor the CPS emphasised a bold measures to accelerate economic growth.

23 Nov 2009 10:36:00

Historical lessons on keeping spending under control

Policy Exchange

"Controlling Spending and Government Deficits - Lessons from History and International Experience"(PDF)

Authors: Dr Andrew Lilico, Ed Holmes and Hilba Sameen

Publication date: 23 November 2009

A comprehensive study contrasting historical UK examples when spending was cut during times of financial hardship with the similar experiences of other European countries and Canada. The paper calls for a spending cuts programme to address the dire state of the current UK public finances. However the authors warn that other countries have been better than Britain at implementing public cuts programmes by devolving the process of finding savings down to the government departments in question and is critical of previous centralised cuts programmes undertaken by the UK Government.

31 Oct 2009 15:56:00

EU's regional obsession threatens nation state


"Good money after bad" (PDF)

Author: Keith Boyfield

Date of publication:October 2009

The author criticises the European Union for spending over 35% of its expenditure on regional development grants and by doing so undermining the nation state model.

31 Oct 2009 12:57:00

Cutting back on quangos


"ACA to YJB - A Guide to the UK's Semi-Autonomous Public Bodies"(PDF)

Authors: Ben Farrugia and John O'Connell

Publication date: October 2009

The report addresses the UK's 1,148 Semi-Autonomous Public Bodies (SAPBs) which are more commonly known as quangos. The Government spent an estimated £90billion on or through these organisations in 2007-2008 which was an increase in £13billion from the previous year. This amount represents around £3,640 for every household in Britain. The report acknowledges how hard it is to abolish SAPBs however it urges politicians to dramatically cut spending on them. The report is critical of SAPBs for their unaccountability, their duplication of function and the crony-ism which is rife in them.

30 Sep 2009 00:26:00

How to save £50billion


"How to save £50billion - Reducing spending for sustainable public finance"(PDF)

Authors: Corin Taylor, Ben Farugia, John O'Connell, Mike Denham and Matthew Sinclair

Publication date: September 2009

This report contains a list of 32 specific suggestions for saving £50billion - £42.5billion of annual savings from 2010-2011 onwards and a further £7.5billion of annual savings which are to be considered in an emergency. The rationale and costing of each saving is listed in the report which has been compiled jointly between The Taxpayers' Alliance and The Institute of Directors.

31 Aug 2009 10:52:00

Ending taxpayer funded lobbying


"Taxpayer Funded Lobbying and Political Campaigning"(PDF)

Author: Matthew Sinclair

Publication date: August 2009

This report exposes the £37million of taxpayers' money which was spent on funding lobbying and political campaigning in 2007-8. This amount is spent by both national and local government and think tanks and public affairs companies have been among the beneficiaries. Whilst this is an unnecessary waste of taxpayers' money, the author also criticises the fact that people are being forced to pay for views they may seriously disagree with. The report also claims that this money is designed to distort decision making in favour of the interests and ideological pre-occupations of a narrow elite. A future Conservative Government has pledged to scrap this funding and in the eyes of the author of this report such a move can't come soon enough.

13 Aug 2009 10:28:00

Cutting back on education quangos


"School quangos - A blueprint for abolition and reform" (PDF)

Authors: Tom Burkard and Sam Talbot Rice

Publication date: 13 August 2009

The report analyses the role of the leading quangos associated with education and details how the functions of these quangos can either be abolished, or transferred to the Department of Children,Schools and Families, or moved out of state ownership. The report calls for the abolition of the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority and the Training and Development Agency.

31 Jul 2009 11:04:00

Higher taxes not the solution to UK's public finance crisis


"Can tax increases solve the United Kingdom's public finance crisis?"(PDF)

Authors: The Taxpayers' Alliance and Centre for Economics and Business Research

Publication date: July 2009

This report belies the popular belief that only tax increases will solve the UK's public finance crisis. The authors use three different models - an optimistic model (using the Treasury's figures), a central model (using the CEBR's predictions) and a pessimistic model (assuming there will be little economic recovery over the next five years) to calibrate the likely budget deficit for 2017-18. According to the optimistic model this is likely to be £30billion, the central model suggests it will be £140billion and the pessimistic model predicts £180billion. Under both the central and pessimistic model unemployment is expected to rise above 3million by 2011. The report predicts that public sector spending will need to be cut by £123billion by 2017-18. However the report argues that the 50% top rate of income tax will result in reducing economic growth by 0.4% and raising income and corporation tax across the board will result in a short term boost but will be revenue negative after seven years. The report concludes that higher taxes are not the solution for solving Britain's public finance crisis.