Tuesday, March 25, 2008
Overcooked Red Tape Haircut
The improbably named Ed Humpherson of the NAO has just given us an update on Brown's ludicrous red tape drive - the one to cut red tape, that is.
As we blogged here, the £20bn figure the government quotes as being the annual red tape burden, was pulled out of a dark orifice by consultants PWC and KPMG for a fee of £17m. It's completely meaningless.
Assistant Auditor General Mr Humperson has now confirmed BOM's conclusion. He says:
"You have to be much more wary, much more cautious, and give a haircut to the numbers.
He warned that the exercise was “not something where the numbers themselves are the be-all and end-all and can be relied on”. Asked if the £20bn total was in effect random, he said: “It’s a little bit more [accurate] than simply plucked out of the air.”
Mr Humpherson highlighted the need to be “questioning” of the claim, originally produced by a government taskforce, that red tape cuts could increase productivity by up to £16bn. “The £16bn figure . . . is probably a bit overcooked,” he said. “It’s an extremely difficult assertion to make.”
“The risk is all of this good work is done by departments . . . and business does not really notice the difference.”
Business does not really notice the difference.
£17m in consultants' fees, and God knows what other costs inside Whitehall, yet business does not notice the difference.