Wednesday, January 25, 2006

More Dodgy Brown Numbers

We blogged last week on the phantom Civil Service jobs cuts- the fact that the Chancellor's boasts of rapid progress towards his Gershon "efficiency" cuts weren't supported by the ONS figures for actual numbers of civil servants employed.

Now the Treasury Select Committee is also questioning the Chancellor's figures:

"...different departments are using different starting dates for measuring workforce reductions...If different starting dates are able to be used, departments might seek to choose a time when their workforce numbers were at their highest, thus exaggerating the extent of decline from the Gershon review starting point."

We're shocked to think Sir Humphrey would stoop to such naked chicanery, but we take the point. The Committee wants a single baseline of April 2004- so sensible that most of us assumed we already had it.

The Committee also reports scepticism about the money savings the Chancellor claims to have achieved, given "the lack of detail about savings by department and the difficulties in measuring non-cash savings arising from claims of improved outputs".

"Non-cash savings arising from improved outputs". Although you may have missed it when the Gershon efficiency savings targets were set, departments can avoid making actual...well, savings, by the simple expedient of claiming that outputs have improved. Which with government departments of course, is almost always impossible to prove one way or the other.

So that's the Gershon efficiency programme. The words "costly", "wasteful", and "charade" spring to mind.

Picture: Propaganda Critic

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