There are some small signs of the coalition transparency agenda stalling a bit, at least with regard to the spending review.
1) No one has settled even if they’ve settled
Cameron has laid down the law: no talking about the spending review negotiations. Even if you’ve settled, you haven’t really settled. And if your numbers leak out, expect them to change.
Even so, the negotiations are moving on at a clip. We disclosed today that five departments have basically agreed deals with the Treasury: the Foreign Office, Cabinet Office, Treasury, Environment, and Culture. Some of them have reached a “provisional settlement” — and if you’re wondering what that means, so are we. I suspect it will stay that way until they’re announced by the chancellor. It sounds like a bit of a charade.
2) Even when you reveal the budget settlement, keep the details secret
There’s growing angst in some departments over the presentation of the spending review.
Everyone is busy in No 10 attempting to find some happy reform narrative that counters the impression that the government is obsessed with cuts (which it is). Meanwhile, to the surprise of some in the Treasury, a decision has been taken not to release all the bad news in one go. Read more