IfG calls for spending review to address pressures on public sector

14 Jun 17

The government should address the pressures on the public sector in an evidence-based spending review, the Institute for Government has said.

Calls from the think-tank to target spending where it is needed have been backed by the FDA union, which represents senior civil servants.

The union has also made calls to end the public sector pay increase cap, which has been officially set at 1% since 2015.

Emily Andrews from the IfG stated that a “mini-spending review” was required to identify and tackle the problems facing the public sector.

She added: “The previous government’s track record of evidence-based spending decision making was poor. 

“Settlements in the 2015 spending review were not driven by the data, which led it into an unsustainable cycle of emergency cash injections in response to avoidable crises.

“Real issues surfaced during the campaign and they need to be addressed in a structured and evidence-based way.” 

Andrews noted that the general election had been billed as the Brexit election but concerns about many public sector issues remained relevant to voters.

These included, police cuts, school funding, the NHS and social care among others.

She said making better spending decisions on these matters was reliant on “doing the basic work of understanding where the problems are and targeting spending in ways that the evidence shows will have the most impact – not in ways that will gain the most short-term political capital”.

In response to the IfG proposal Naomi Cooke, FDA assistant general secretary, pointed to the union's own research, which shows 86% of public sector leaders felt their organisations were not adequately resourced.

She added: "With senior MPs and their advisers now publicly questioning the wisdom of the ongoing public sector pay freeze, it is also becoming clear that any new spending review must urgently address the issue of stagnant and uncompetitive pay in the public sector.”

Today the Office of National Statistics released figures showing that pay for public and private sector wages were being outstripped by inflation despite a growing number of people finding work.

In addition to a report on earnings, the ONS today published figures on public sector employment, which showed a continuing decline in the number of workers in the sector.

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