Demanding efficiency savings from our public services now is like asking us to burn our lifeboats in the middle of a storm. The unintended consequence of efficiency savings is that they erode local public services. Ultimately this impacts most on the poorest in the UK who are least responsible for causing the crisis, exacerbating already untenable levels of inequality and storing up more problems for later.
Measures to rebalance the tax burden are welcome, but don’t go far enough. With the worst impacts of the recession still to play out in full, the Government should be using this opportunity to take a progressive approach to taxation so that the companies and individuals who have benefitted most pay their fair share, ensuring that we can invest in the public safety nets we need to protect us from the worst impacts of the recession, and against future shocks. In addition, measures to help local businesses win public procurement contracts would both help to shore up front line services when they are needed most, and keep more money circulating in our local economies for longer.
For more on the real costs of efficiency measures, see nef’s report A Better Return.