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Views of the week: 4 February 2010

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LGC rounds up the best comment, analysis and opinion from the past week.

Peter Riddell in The Times on improving the way government works

Weaknesses in the way government works are the common thread of three heavyweight reports - by the Institute for Government, the Better Government Initiative and the House of Lords’ Constitution Committee. But prime ministers have their own ways of working, which change over time and matter more than systems.

The reports are spot on in urging a more rigorous approach to legislation — highlighted by the Personal Care at Home Bill, which the government is trying to push through before the end of its consultation on key regulations on long-term care. Lords Lipsey and Warner urge that the committee stage should be delayed until the government responds to consultation. This bill provides a key test for the Lords of proper parliamentary scrutiny.

George Osborne and Richard Thaler in The Guardian on behavioural economics

The disciplines of behavioural economics and social psychology are enabling a new approach to policy making, based on evidence on how people really behave. These disciplines can help to meet our policy goals more effectively, more cheaply and without the need for burdensome and intrusive regulation. This is a fundamentally conservative approach, which goes with the grain of human nature.

Phillip Blond and John Milbank in The Guardian on a new approach to equality

A new philosophical approach towards equality is required, which embraces the traditional Tory view that privilege is not just a reward for success, but can be justified as a way of linking the exercise of power to virtue. We need a more radical economic egalitarianism coupled with the recognition of a hierarchy of excellence. By embracing this approach, we can hope that good leaders with integrity will emerge.

Jeff Randall attacks wasteful public posts in The Daily Telegraph

Within the strict new guidelines for spending, a smaller public sector is inevitable. Unless layers of non-productive jobs are tackled, many of which have grown up since 1997, the state’s misallocation of resources will drive Britain further down the wealth league tables. I hope David Cameron and George Osborne have worked out that the days of 70-grand diversity chiefs are over.

Pick of the Blogs

2010 will be both exciting and demanding for the public sector…times are a changing, hold on tight, but let’s be nice

John Suffolk, Cabinet Office

Published alongside the pre-Budget report was an update on benchmarking of back-office function:

  • Human resources to move to one HR person to 77 full-time equivalents from a median of 1:44
  • Finance to reduce its operating cost to 1% from a median of 1.4%
  • Marketing and communications to reduce their costs by 25%
  • ICT to cut costs by reusing systems
  • Consultancy costs to fall by 50%
  • Occupancy reduced to 10m2 per FTE
  • Senior civil service costs cut by 20%

Whether we wanted a burning platform or not, we have one, and I guess we change or burn.

Change is a funny old thing. It’s dead easy when you do it to others; we must change the process; we must restructure; we must change the …; in reality this is all code for you must change, but I’m all right.

Well, not any more.

The full version of this blog appeared on

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