Wednesday, 4 August 2010


In a number of countries facing public deficits / budget consolidation independent reports have  been key to inform and shape the debate around how cuts can be implemented.  The NICVA sponsored report, Cutting Carefully, is of that mould.  However, its focus is upon the broad parameters of the cuts rather than a significant amount of policy detail. 

The Scottish 'Government' have followed that model.  They commissioned an Independent Budget Review to provide a menu of policy options to implement the anticipated cuts from the outworking of the emergency budget with the Comprehensive Spending Review.  It recently produced its full report (pdf file) with 174 pages of detail.  Below the fold is the summary of the key policy options/recommendations.  They give greater insight into what will be the options for Northern Ireland's executive:

" These options include consideration of:
• subjecting all services to scrutiny and comparative prioritisation, without an overriding presumption of protection for any of the major services;
• discontinuing the current council tax freeze, which does not appear sustainable in the projected economic environment;
• ensuring that future annual efficiency targets across the public sector are no less than 2 per cent per annum;
• further reducing the number of public bodies;
• applying a two-year pay freeze, from 2011-12, as the first essential step to constrain growth in the public sector pay bill;
• immediately implementing a recruitment freeze across the public sector, with exceptions only granted for essential staff posts;
• managing a fall in public sector employment of between approximately 5.7 per cent and 10 per cent by 2014-15, as far as possible through natural wastage;
• reviewing the NHS Distinction Awards scheme, as part of the Fair Pay Review;
• engaging with the Independent Public Services Pension Commission to review public sector pensions, recognising that changes to current public sector pension arrangements are essential and almost certainly unavoidable;
• undertaking immediate work to review whether all free or subsidised universal services should be retained in their current form, including reviewing eligibility criteria for concessionary travel and free NHS eye examinations, reviewing future arrangements for free personal and nursing care and considering the suspension of the final stage in the planned reduction in prescription charges;
• whether to maintain the current funding arrangements for higher education in Scotland or to implement a scheme similar to that in England, such as tuition fees, or other arrangements such as graduate contributions, taking into account the outcome of the Browne Review;
• revising and building on the role of the Scottish Futures Trust;
• exploring options for changing the status of Scottish Water, possibly to that of a public interest company, which could permit the release of significant capital to the Scottish Government for other projects; and
• developing a longer term strategic view of the future shape and nature of public services."


Frank said...

Cut the EU budget?

Lee said...

It'd help but still come nowhere near to filling the hole