The Art of Public Strategy – Geoff Mulgan

Geoff Mulgan’s new book on ‘The Art of Public Strategy’ is an riveting read, fizzing with insights and ideas.

Mulgan played a big role in the Blair government, as a policy adviser and Head of the Prime Minister’s Strategy Unit. He also has a strong history as a think-tanker and author, so his writing is full of insider anecdote, big ideas and shows a remarkably broad sweep. Having said all that is has several faults. Continue reading “The Art of Public Strategy – Geoff Mulgan”

HMRC – Efficiency or ‘Stealth Cuts’?

In the ‘2004 Spending Review: final report on the efficiency programme’ (published Nov last year) the government claimed that the Chancellor’s departments – including the mammoth HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) had allegedly ‘saved’ £680m (against a target of £550m) and cut 16,000 jobs (mostly from HMRC).

This might sound quite impressive, until you look at some other rather disturbing news….. Continue reading “HMRC – Efficiency or ‘Stealth Cuts’?”

HM Treasury and “Efficiency”

To London yesterday (25 Mar 09) to brief the sub-committee of the Treasury Select Committee which is carrying out an enquiry into efficiency of HM Treasury and its departments, including the mammoth HM Revenue and Customs.

It was great session with most of the members giving up an hour of their valuable time and a creating a very lively discussion. Thanks to the sub-committee chair Michael Fallon for giving me the opportunity to do it.

The briefing session was about general issues surrounding the whole efficiency programmes of the government, rather than focussed on the Chancellor’s departments – the sub-committee will be taking formal evidence on those later.


Smile, We’re All Doomed – as usual. The UK Economic Pessimism Index

The most recent poll by Ipsos-MORI shows a slight narrowing of the gap between the Tories and Labour, but still gives the Tories a 10-point lead (see here).

More worrying for the Tory opposition, and a bit more pleasing for Prime Minister Gordon Brown, should be the figures on people’s attitudes to the economy. Continue reading “Smile, We’re All Doomed – as usual. The UK Economic Pessimism Index”

The Invisible Hand’s Shadow

The shadow economy as an issue for public policy and public administration is something I have been banging on about for several years (see A False Economy, Public Finance, 2004). I recently tried to raise the issue at both the Treasury and Public Administration select committees.

So I was pleased to see a fascinating paper by Sean Mallin of the University of Notre Dame, USA, in the latest edition of ‘Real-World Economics‘. Mullin’s opening paragraph ought to tempt you to read further…. Continue reading “The Invisible Hand’s Shadow”

A ‘light touch’ in the public sector is highly unlikely now.

‘Light-touch regulation’ was very fashionable for the private sector until recently – after the banking debacle it is rapidly going out of fashion. Meanwhile the government maintains in the recent White Paper ‘Working Together‘ this is its’ policy aim for the public sector – is this situation viable? Not likely….

read the full article in Public Finance

Tories and Tax – Ken lets cat out of the bag?

I wrote in the previous blog (Budgeting for Hard Choices – in 2011)

“So far the Tories problem [about public finances and tax] has escaped serious media scrutiny – and maybe they will escape right up to the Election given how unpopular Labour is and the bias of our main newspapers. But come Budget 2011 the buck would have to stop. Fiscal conservatism may make a good sound bite now, but it makes for some very unpalatable policy choices down the road.”

I reckoned without the redoubtable Ken Clarke – the last Tory Chancellor and currently their Business spokesperson (or the Shadow Shadow Chancellor as some wags have dubbed him). Yesterday Clarke took the Tories new ‘fiscal conservative’ stance seriously and said they’d have to ditch the commitment to remove ‘all but millionaires’ from inheritance tax. Within hours he had been slapped down and forced to retract, but the debate about tax and the Tories is now firmly in the public domain.

see Confusion over Tories’ inheritance tax cut plan By Alex Barker, Political Correspondent, Financial Times

Budgeting for Hard Choices – in 2011

Central government current receipts in February were 9.8% lower and current spending in February was 6.5% higher than in the same month last year, the IFS reported today (19 March 2009). What a surprise.

As government income drops and spending increases all eyes will be on Chancellor Alistair Darling when he announces Budget 2009 on 22nd April. But the real Budget to watch will be in Spring 2011. Continue reading “Budgeting for Hard Choices – in 2011”

Public Pay for Private Work? Issues from bank ‘nationalisation’

I’ve been asked to post this important ‘think piece’ by a group of World Bank and OECD officials about the issues concerning the pay of private sector managers of banks and other institutions that have been effectively nationalised.

There is also an on-line survey that the authors would like completed Link to on-line survey.

Please pass this on to anyone you think might be interested and be willing to complete their questionnaire. Continue reading “Public Pay for Private Work? Issues from bank ‘nationalisation’”