It’s not about Cutting Costs, it’s about Changing Attitudes

So the PM has come out of the closet and said the “C” word at long last. Cuts are on the way and at least we now have one policy that will be common to all parties and therefore to whoever wins the next election.

And no doubt we will hear about “cuts to front line services” and suchlike as the steam rises in the debate about who will make the best or most reasonable or even the last destructive cuts. Sadly all that noise will be meaningless.
The reason is simple: cuts without a change of attitude will only fail. The Public Sector needs to understand that costs need to be managed and needs to develop a culture that does so.
Let me give you some examples:
I regularly walk past a council office, I’ll not say where to protect those who should hang their face in shame, and I know that all through the winter the heating system is on at weekends. From 9 am to 5 pm, Saturday and Sunday, without fail. The building is empty.
In a harbour little town I visit regularly I can stand on the corner of the harbour and count 76 street lights visible after dawn.
Road schemes are developed to meet the need to spend a budget rather than to meet the needs of truly controlling traffic or to reduce accidents.
Iif the attitudes were different these expenditures would be less likely to take place. And that is what we need.
I’m reminded of Mayor Guilianni’s approach to cutting the murder rate in New York. He had a policy of “fixing the broken windows”, so that when kids threw stones and broke the windows the windows were repaired. Everytime.
Eventually the kids got fed up and stopped their foolish ways, insteadin of sliding along the path of crime that lead to murder. It was It’s not about Cutting Costs, it’s about Changing Attitudes
It was a brave policy but it addressed the mindsets of those likely to commit offences and was in the end highly successful.
But it was the mind set that change and that is what we must change in our bloated public sector. Don’t let’s hear politicians leaping to defend essential frontline services. Instead let’s have people admitting that times are hard and things need to change, and one way they will change is to encourage a culture that stops ridiculous spending. It won’t fix the problem, but

So the PM has come out of the closet and said the “C” word at long last. Cuts are on the way and at least we now have one policy that will be common to all parties and therefore to whoever wins the next election.

And no doubt we will hear about “cuts to front line services” and suchlike as the steam rises in the debate about who will make the best or most reasonable or even the last destructive cuts. Sadly all that noise will be meaningless.

The reason is simple: cuts without a change of attitude will only fail. The Public Sector needs to understand that costs need to be managed and it needs to develop a culture that does so.

Let me give you some examples:

  • I regularly walk past a council office, I’ll not say where to protect those who should hang their face in shame, and I know that all through the winter the heating system is on at weekends. From 9 am to 5 pm, Saturday and Sunday, without fail. The building is empty.
  • In a harbour little town I visit regularly I can stand on the corner of the harbour and count 76 illuminated street lights visible after dawn.
  • Road schemes are developed to meet the need to spend a budget rather than to meet the needs of truly controlling traffic or to reduce accidents.

If the attitudes were different these expenditures would be less likely to take place. And that is what we need, encouragement to attack the problems differently.

I’m reminded of Mayor Guilianni’s approach to cutting the murder rate in Broken windows in the Pruitt-Igoe housing deve...New York. He had a policy of “fixing the broken windows”, so that when kids threw stones and broke the windows the windows were repaired. Everytime.

Eventually the kids got fed up and stopped their foolish ways, insteadin of sliding along the path of crime that lead to murder. It was about Changing Attitudes.

It was a brave policy but it addressed the mindsets of those likely to commit offences and was in the end highly successful.

But it was the mind sets that changed and that is what we must change in our bloated public sector. Don’t let’s hear politicians leaping to defend essential frontline services. Instead let’s have people admitting that times are hard and things need to change, and one way they will change is to encourage a culture that stops ridiculous spending. It won’t fix the problem, but sure as hell will take a big step forward.