Time to cut public spending


Here's a letter I had published in the Evening Standard yesterday:

The voters are ahead of the politicians in recognising that whichever party wins the next election is going to have to cut public spending - in a poll for Politicshome in March, 72 per cent thought spending had risen too high.

Belatedly, the Conservatives are saying the right things. But they are not yet going nearly far enough. Research by European Central Bank economists has suggested Britain could save £96 billion a year if our public sector was as efficient as Japan’s or Australia’s. That works out as a 16 per cent spending cut. If we want to restore sanity to the UK’s public finances, these are the sorts of numbers we need to be contemplating.

Local government and public procurement might be the easiest targets but – whatever the Tories say – the NHS must not be spared from this process. It now consumes more than £100 billion of taxpayers’ money every year, and is notoriously unproductive. Without radical reform, things are only going to get worse.

Tom Clougherty, executive director, Adam Smith Institute