Whitehall Spending Challenge

Here’s a pair of facts presently emblazoned across screens in the UK’s aftermath of the new (coalition) Government’s emergency budget:

£952 Billion – total current debt

£155 Billion – current deficit

The figures are of eye-watering worry. Britain owes almost One Trillion pounds Sterling. Staggeringly, that’s over half of total annual output. The second number is the difference between what the State generates in taxes and what it borrows. It’s in runaway negative territory.

All sides agree on the scale of the problem. Left and Right differ of course, on both the true culprit and the remedy. The new occupants of power blame the previous incumbent’s profligacy way more than the credit crunch.

In the immediate quest to quickly balance the books, the new PM and his Deputy today wrote a letter to all public sector workers. It highlights the “spending challenge” and asks for help. Here’s paragraph four;

We want you to help us find those savings, so we can cut public spending in a way that is fair and responsible. You work on the frontline of public services. You know where things are working well, where the waste is, and where we can re-think things so that we get better services for less money.

This feels a bold move. Inevitably dismissed by its critics as a gimmick, it might though just yield dividends. Cuts are coming, so why not properly manage that painful process.

Imagine you are in an account management position. You sense your rewards are about to reduce, maybe even disappear. Who’s on your ‘frontline’? Could they suggest ways ahead that lessen your potential losses?

On Sky News Deputy PM Clegg was quizzed by Mark Longhurst. A précis follows:

People who know this the best are not civil servants or politicians in Whitehall but those on the front line, such as nurses, we must square that circle to make savings whilst protecting front line services

The interviewer then suggested that everyone will simply say ‘make cuts elsewhere’,

People tell us privately you can save money by getting rid of that form or target, you can save money by removing that layer of (NHS) bureaucracy. It can all be done anonymously. Yes, some may not be workable, unable to copy from one place to another but ideas are out there.

Adapting this philosophy may well provide a distinguished framework for your next (perhaps even impromptu) client-side major account review.

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