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“My concern would be we’re seeing a significant shrinkage of the state already over the past 12 years of Conservative government through austerity. I don’t think there’s much efficiency to squeeze out of the system,” he said.

If the tax burden is the highest ever and we’re still running a deficit then how can we have had a shrinkage of the state?

16 thoughts on “Difficult”

  1. Well they have to say this sort of tosh, it’s what they are paid for. Whether it has any bearing to reality or not is quite immaterial.
    The Govt spaffed £190billion on health in 2020 and these guys have concluded that a 10% cut in income tax will cost £32billion that hardly covers the cost of the increase spent on health from three years before.

    As I said a while back, for some algorithmic aberration, my Instgram feed is being filled with missives from the Brains Trust on the Labour benches: especialy Burgon and whittombe. At first their bone headed stupidity was amusing. Now it really is grating.

    Austerity, if only eh ?

  2. @Otto

    I think that includes the Great Plague

    I see no evidence of any shrinkage in the state – isn’t the government currently looking at shrinking the civil service that has grown over the past 6 years?

    The only way to achieve this is to simply stop interfering in wide areas of our lives

  3. Indeed yes, Starfish, but it needn’t have been. The phenomenal waste of money during the Death is a good illustration of how the state isn’t shrinking. One of the benefits of WFH is that it has exposed the shocking inefficiency of government agencies and host of non jobs.

    ps To those who say “it can’t happen in the private sector” it does. Large corporations are full of unproductive employment.

  4. If tax is high then how can we have had a shrinkage of the state?

    With more transfer payments, that’s how.

    The state robs Peter to pay for Paul’s triple-locked pensions, and there are more pensioners than ever before. Therefore the size of the state can fall (number of civil servants, number of warships, whatever metric you choose); but the amount of tax taken & redistributed has grown.

  5. It is possible for spending on government to be rising quite rapidly and the State sector to be simultaneously suffering from a lack of ability to do stuff. If through massive inefficiency a government department finds it costs more and more to do exactly the same amount of work, unless its budget rises at the required stellar rate it will find it is having to cut more and more things from what it does. I would suggest that lockdowns, WFH and the money printing inspired inflation have accelerated this process in spades for the State sector, so many people ‘working’ within it are either doing nothing, or indeed actively preventing anything being done, that we now see a process whereby budgets could be rising, but output is falling. Thus we have more spending, but also ‘austerity’ in outcomes too.

  6. “I don’t think there’s much efficiency to squeeze out of the system,” he said.”

    Given god knows how many years of increasing regulatory, diversity and other bollocks, across most of the public sector (and private for that matter), anybody who can say that without smirking is nothing more than a fool.

    “George Dibb, head of the Centre for Economic Justice at the centre-left IPPR thinktank”

    One of Ritchie’s mates?

  7. A good start would be dumping all the diversity shit – but then with a PMOC potentially in the offing…

  8. I’m pretty sure most of us on here could find huge savings in public spending. There are numerous grants and subsidies that many of us would consider unnecessary. I’d stop the billions in central and local government grants to charities. I’d only give money to a charity if it was providing a contracted service, and I’d be allowing private and charitable organisations to tender.

    Anyone with diversity or climate change in their job title would be looking for a new employer.

  9. It suits Tory Chancellors to claim they’re ‘delivering austerity’, and it suits Labour to pretend that it’s happening as this state of affairs appeals to both their respective voter bases. In reality, overall government expenditure has never reduced (some bits have increased more than others). Real austerity would be a conversation similar to this:

    “Does your pay come from the government? Congratulations, you’ve just had a 10% pay cut. Don’t like it? The door’s over there.”

    In reality, this would be a sub-optimal method of achieving cuts, as the good people would leave and the unemployable dross (diversity managers etc) would stay, but a more scientific approach is beyond the capabilities of our civil service, and it would at least be a start.

  10. Ottokring

    I’d agree with you although a significant proportion of this in the Private Sector is in response to Public Sector expansion and box ticking.

    I don’t discuss politics much with one of my relatives who actually knows Murphy but his response to my contention that a dog should be able to find savings of at least 1% in a budget of then £600 billion was that ‘no cuts were needed’. As you both say, you could probably sack 2 million from the public sector with no decrease in productivity.

  11. Same as always. Shrinkage occurs because his side wanted a 20% increase in government spending but compromised to a 19.5% increase in spending.

  12. “I don’t think there’s much efficiency to squeeze out of the system,” he said.”

    Shouldn’t they be trying to squeeze it in?

  13. Depends what you mean by “the state”. It’s certainly possible to have rising taxes, rising deficit, and a reduction in government purchases of goods and services, if at the same time there’s been an increase in transfer payments. By far the biggest component of welfare is the state pension and demographics means that’s on an upward path for the foreseeable future.

    Also in this context, a lot of people talk about cuts to “government” in terms of departmental budgets, ie the civil servants who run the show, rather than the services those departments are responsible for. So for example, cut the Department for Health budget but spend more on local NHS hospitals. Some would call that a “smaller state” but others wouldn’t.

  14. Bloke in North Dorset

    I’ve been listening to a program about Frederick William I of Prussia, he knew how to do it. When he eventually succeeded his father, who he hated in part for his waste, he cut back most of the court and those that didn’t get instantly fired had a 75% pay cut.

    Back to current times, it’s not just that we need to cut back the size of the State we need a lot more localisation as Tim has pointed out the Scandies may have high taxes, but it’s all about localisation. Thanks to the Vikings we have one of the most centralised States in Europe.

    What are Douglas Carswell and Daniel Hannan up to these days? They should update their book:

  15. Bloke in North Dorset

    And another thing. All this talk about cutting taxes immediately from the candidates, they should remember that Maggie and Geoffrey Howe set about with basic reforms before Lawson came in and could go to work cutting taxes.

    Also, just saying they’ll cut the civil service is a fools errand, they’re better at that game than any MP ever could be as they have had time to perfect the Fireman First Principle. Same with unions. Maggie planned for years to take on the miners and the Conservative Party needs to plan for years to take the Civil Service.

  16. My concern would be we’re seeing a significant shrinkage of the state already over the past 12 years of Conservative government

    Shrinkage? The state is hugely larger now than Blair & Brown era

    It needs culling:
    >50% of ministers & depts, inc Johnson’s new this week ‘Minister for Veterans’
    >70% of NHS admin staff who outnumber docs & nurses ~4 to 1
    All DIE staff
    All Green Crap staff

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