Tickets Please!

Osborne to consult public about spending choices – Ministers are to give details about a “once-in-a-generation” re-examination of the way the government works, as it prepares to make “painful” cuts (BBC News).

OMG… Where do you start?

Today the BBC Radio 2 Jeremy Vine show decided to try to make a start on getting suggestions from the public. Apart from the usual candidates for cuts such as NHS management, the vast majority of comments related not to the actual systems in place but the prevalence of relatively easy scams operated to screw those systems. Support structures that were supposedly put in place and developed to help the needy, not the greedy!

Unfortunately (but not unexpectedly), given the nature of our society, these types of gross system abuse are bound to continue without robust and effective safeguards. Many of these support processes may have been implemented to help the needy however; an additional government driver has always been the one of trying to develop popularity amongst the electorate.

Another factor that is always evident in our society (and dovetails with much of the reasoning behind the MPs Expenses scandal) is; if you tell people they are ‘entitled’ to something (especially hard cash), they are more than likely to try to claim it, irrespective of whether they actually need it or not. After all “it’s my right”… Isn’t it?

During my time as a workplace staff representative I often got a little annoyed with people over expenses claims. Where there was a two tier level of payment for a particular category of claim, many would often try to ‘bend’ rules/information to support a claim for the higher level of payment. To my mind that is wrong but an issue that is widespread across all sectors of our society. Claims for allowances should only be made to offset being ‘out of pocket’ because of expenses incurred whilst performing an employer’s task. Not as is so often the case, simply to enhance your level of income!

But I digress, back to the question at hand; where should we wield the knife of public expenditure cuts?

Some areas that immediately come to mind are the extremely top-heavy NHS Management structure, the Child Support Agency and its consistent failures (despite two unsuccessful attempts at ‘rebranding’ since inception), along with the failing Tax Credits system that gives with one hand (to win votes), then takes back with the other. I have no personal axe to grind but have experiences of all three, their criminal waste of public money and incomprehensible incompetency!

During my time in the public sector I always had difficulty with explaining to staff, peers and management that the ‘public purse was not infinite’ and, one day there would be no money. I was derided and ridiculed by many who were just happy to continue riding the public gravy train.

If there is any justice during these difficult times and our adverse financial climate, perhaps we should ensure those people are denied a return ticket for their train journey!

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