Vince’s 5-point spending cuts plan

by Stephen Tall on October 14, 2009

In today’s Guardian, Lib Dem shadow chancellor Vince Cable asnwers five questions that outline the party’s approach to implementing the spending cuts which will be necessary in the next few years while protecting frontline public services. Here are the filletted highlights:

On restoring professional autonomy …

One key step to getting the NHS and education working better is to motivate those who work there. Top-down, command-and-control management has done great damage. Staff have much to contribute but are currently treated as a cost rather than as a resource.

On cutting bureaucracy …

Bureaucratic overheads are too large and there is an insidious fat-cat culture. We would scrap central NHS targets and unnecessary quangos, and reduce the admin burden on trusts. We would halve the size of the Department of Health. We would abolish strategic health authorities. … There must be a role for alternative providers. I welcome a bigger role for social entrepreneurs, as is now happening in, for example, community care.

On investing in preventative measures (eg, Sure Start, prison rehabilitation) …

Our education system too often perpetuates inequality by leaving children from disadvantaged backgrounds behind, and the government’s endless gimmicks and initiatives often don’t kick in until it’s too late for intervention to work. Infant class sizes should be cut so that young children get the extra attention they need. Our plans to invest £2.5bn in a pupil premium would guarantee schools that took disadvantaged children the extra cash they need to give these pupils the additional support they need. Schools would be able to offer catch-up classes, more one-to-one tuition and additional weekend and summer classes.

On empowering public service users …

There is scope to extend individual budgets into certain areas of healthcare – to deliver more personal care at a lower cost – and this is already happening with disability. The potential is considerable. … it could be transformational, delivering better health and wellbeing and closing the inequality gap between those who have choice, because they can afford to buy the right services with their own money, and those who have had to rely on too often poorly performing public services.

On scrapping the Government’s grandiose spending schemes (eg, national databases) …

We are already committed to scrapping big databases like ContactPoint, the ID card scheme and the so-called “super-database”. … Future NHS IT systems should be built from the bottom up – locally commissioned to national standards.

You can read the whiole article by clicking here.