Austerity: blog series

July 2017

 Andrew Haldenby, Director, wrote a series of blogs on the theme of austerity, exploring whether the government is in a better position now to end austerity than previous governments, and the importance  of achieving value in public services at times of fiscal scarcity.

The politics of austerity – and better public services

In the first blog of the series, Andrew argued that the position of the public finances, coupled with the opportunities of new technology, mean that public sector reform must continue.

“Given the state of the public finances, however, what voters needed was the argument that public services need ideas as much as money.”

Read the full blog here.

The “end of austerity” – what happened last time?

In the second blog of the series, Andrew reflected on the last periods when austerity ended, the years between 1990-00 and 2007-08, where public spending rose by five percentage points of GDP.

At the time, it was frequently commented that the sheer scale of extra resources meant they were not well used. The Government also promised that a rise in spending would be coupled with reforms to increase the efficiency of the public sector. In reality, this reforms were slow to materialise.

Read the full blog here.

The “end of austerity” – can we spend the money wisely?

In the third blog of the series, Andrew looked at whether the government’s and the public sector’s attitude to public spending productivity has improved in the last 15 years such that another spending burst would be managed better this time.

He argued that it depends on how far the head of government, i.e. the Treasury, seeks to achieve value for money. Unfortunately, the UK government doesn’t have the systems in place to achieve this and the public sector in general still doesn’t prioritise value for money.

Read the full blog here.

Higher public sector pay – or better public services?

Andrew wrote an additional blog, “the fourth in a three-party series”, specifically on the debate surrounding austerity and public sector pay.

He explored whether the election result was really a cry about higher public sector pay, or a broader question around how to delivery quality public services during times of fiscal scarcity.

Read the full blog here.