Anna’s Blog – How Inefficiencies cost the Tax-Payer Billions
In her blog this week our CEO, Anna Lunts, looks at how government inefficiencies cost the tax-payer billions.
Social Care has taken the biggest hit during the cuts to public spending over the last ten years. Hundreds of services, vital to individuals and communities, have been closed or greatly reduced. Providers are increasingly asked to deliver more for the same funding or even less. Anyone in the care sector knows how tight money is and how we have to account for every single penny.
Imagine then, being able to pursue vanity projects, poorly thought out schemes and initiatives that run over by billions of pounds without rigorous accountability.
This is the world of Government as described by the out-going head of the National Audit Office. In his final speech Amyas Morse talked of an ‘inappropriate bravado’ when it comes to spending public money, resulting in ‘prioritisation away from things where the money could be better spent.’
A world where the Cross Rail funding package is now £2.8 billion more than was agreed for the project in 2010, where the botched probation service reforms will cost the public purse £467million and consumers will be footing the bill for a smart meter programme that is running £500 million over budget.
Public money is finite, points out Morse. When money is lost in one place it’s taken from another: “The consequences of over ambitious projects, poor decision-making and careless management is less money for soft spending areas like public services that can be cut more easily.”
Those ‘soft spending areas’ are inevitably the ones that impact most on the poor and vulnerable. As a regular train passenger I’m not suggesting for one minute that there shouldn’t be proper investment in the rail network but if the trains don’t run efficiently there are delays and cancellations – annoying and inconvenient. If social care is not properly funded the results can be life-threatening.
The Local Government Association predicts that councils will face a £3.5 billion shortfall in funding for social care by 2025. While ministers continue to lavish money on their pet projects Government refuses to acknowledge the true cost of good quality social care that can help people live fulfilled and meaningful lives.
We expect that public money – our hard-earned taxes – will be managed efficiently and effectively but Morse says that since 2010 ministers have steadily increased their powers within Government intent on driving through their own ideas.
If we had been given a fraction of the over-spend gifted to ministers in charge of Crossrail imagine the difference we could make to the lives of the people we support. I’m not suggesting that the Government should write a blank cheque for social care. I, like Amyas Morse, am angry when I see public money wasted. It is time, though, that Government assessed the need for social care honestly and invested efficiently and effectively to meet that need.