Nick launches 'In The Know' to save taxpayers' money

by Stephen Tall on August 28, 2009

Nick Clegg has today launched the Lib Dems’ ‘Ask the People in the Know’ project inviting public sector workers to help identify ways in which government can cut out waste while protecting services in order to save taxpayers’ money.

Anyone working in the public sector can submit their ideas on where money can be saved at Nick has pledged that ideas submitted via the ‘Asking the People Who Know’ website will help inform the work currently being undertaken by the party to identify areas of waste in public spending:

Hard-working nurses and teachers tell me how frustrated they are by the money which is being wasted on needless paperwork, administration and computer systems that don’t work. David Cameron and Gordon Brown are having a sterile debate about the size of the total Whitehall budget.

But they’re asking the wrong question: we first need to find out if money is being spent on the right things. It can’t be right that billions of pounds are being spent on NHS computer systems which don’t work, yet basic help for people with serious mental health conditions is still lacking because of a shortage of money.

“The people who are best placed to tell us where money is not being well spent are the teachers, nurses, social workers and other public servants who work so hard day and night on our behalf. Politicians should stop talking over the heads of public servants. We need to listen to the people in the know on how we can better run public services, making sure that every penny of taxpayers’ money is well spent. That’s what ‘Asking People In The Know’ is all about.”

Lib Dem blogger ‘Costigan Quist’ was quickest on the draw with his response:

It’s a neat idea. Instead of relying on some think-tank’s idea of where savings can be made, or wading in with the big stick of political dogma, why not ask the people who know – the people who see the waste day-in, day-out. … But there are problems. … if the result is a bit of publicity and a genuine exercise where the party picks up some genuinely good ideas that could save hundreds of millions, it’s thumbs up. If it ends up a bit of a joke with some dodgy ideas to shave a few hundred quid off the public sector bill, probably not.

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This idea was floated amid an hour long talk at one of his “town hall meet-the-people” Any Question evenings last night at St. Albans. Those in the audience who work in various aspects of the public services including the NHS seemed to like this new strand of old-style Liberal worker-participation. What was the works-council policy of old if it was not akin to this?

The St. Albans event was a big success, the hall was packed to the rafters quite literally, and Nick was in very fine form – clearly at his very best in this sort of element, where there is no set speach, no notes, no pre-amble, straight in with questions from the floor. Clearly enjoying himself, this sort of campaigning seems to suit him best, and everyone I spoke to afterwards came away very impressed.

by Philip Young on August 28, 2009 at 6:52 pm. Reply #

It’s just common sense. If you want to know the problems with any service, ask the workers.

The problem is that when you leave important services to tender out internal contracts to try and save money, standards go down.

In the NHS lack of cleanliness (and MRSA) is one of those endpoints! Lack of nurses is another.
Too many pen pushers, and managers and management consultants, and accountants and unnecessary expensive auditors and accountants, and lawyers and mismanagement…are others. Lack of communication and lack of reality check is the most important lesson to be learned.

A wee chat at a meeting is very quaint but he needs real policies with tangible benefits. Larger than life stuff that makes a real difference to peoples lives.

NOW that translates into votes!

It’s not rocket science kids. Basic PR and management theory.

by Libdem Guru on August 28, 2009 at 8:25 pm. Reply #

The problem that few people seem to recognise, let alone admit, is that we need this sort of info from private (and voluntary) sector workers too. Whatever the received wisdom – people end up paying for others waste etc, in whichever sector that occurs. It is insufficient to claim that “the consumer in the private sector ‘can choose'”. Yes, of course, and quite often the cheapest. It is often not efficiencies and ‘lack of waste’ which leads to overall cheapness. It is often raw market power. Let’s hear that both from our own leadershp and from workers in those organisations (oh, sorry, I forgot – they would in many cases be fired “for breaching commercial confidentiality”)

by Tim13 on September 2, 2009 at 9:52 am. Reply #

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