The problem with eye-catching government initiatives to save cash is that they often – um – cost money. Big money.
Bureaucrats charged with shifting thousands of civil servants out of London (the Lyons Review) soon found that it was not so easy to move staff out of their offices. Getting out of leases can involve multi-million pound payments to landlords, for example.
–>And so it is with the Gershon Review, where ministers agreed to wave the scythe over the civil service’s enormous workforce. The plan is to remove 84,000 posts in four years. This would reverse the huge growth in the public sector payroll under the Labour government.
Since Gershon more than £430m has been paid out in redundancy to civil servants, according to figures put together by Lord Oakeshott, the Lib Dem Treasury spokesman.
“The government has thrown £500m of taxpayers’ cash at civil servants to pay them not to work,” says Lord Oakeshott. “The costs to the taxpayer are only too clear. The benefits are vague and stretching into the future.”
The Treasury says the idea is eventually to save £20bn in the long term. But why hire so many civil servants in the first place? The blame must surely lie with the current government in the early days of its administration.
And has anyone stopped to ask how much it would cost if some or many of the de-employed civil servants stay out of work and on benefits?