Cut of the Day

Option: Cut the officer corps of the armed forces by a quarter, returning the ratio of top brass to lower ranks the 1 to 7 level that prevailed through the cold war.

Saving: In salary alone, the saving is around £400m a year. There are then knock on savings from bonuses, housing costs, private school fees, the entourage, the offices, travel costs, training, the pension etc.

The case for a cut: Britain’s armed forces are more top heavy with officers than at any point in the 20th century. As the armed forces have shrunk in size, the lower ranks have suffered more than the officer corps. It now looks terribly unbalanced. The ratio of officers to lower ranks has fallen from 1/10 in the Second World War, to 1/7 in the cold war, to 1/6 through the late 1990s, to 1/5 today. There was no strategic decision to change this structure — it is a symptom of a bureaucracy protecting those at the top at the expense of efficiency. Most striking is the trend since 1997, which is shown in the chart below. Senior officers (colonel and above) have increased by 8 per cent, while the lower ranks have been cut by 12 per cent. What is the rationale for that? There are now more admirals than active warships and two-fifths as many RAF officers of one star and above as there are in the US Air Force, which is roughly eight times the size. Read more

Jim Pickard

It was Ed Miliband who called for all workers to have the right to flexible working earlier in the week – in a speech that pointed out that GDP isn’t the be all and end all of everything. (At present only carers and parents can do so automaticallyRead more

Option: End the Train to Gain programme, created in 2006 to “support employers improve the skills of their employees”. Read more

Welcome to a new, occasional series running up to the Autumn spending review. We’re planning for the “Cut Of The Day” to be as arbitrary, brutish and irregular as the whims of the Treasury axemen. So you may see a few examples on a single day, or none at all.

The basic premise is to lay out the case for and against various measures. We’ll try to pull together some greatest hits before the Spending review. So please do let us know if you think the options are too damaging, cruel or indeed unnecessarily merciful. Read more