Headlines: June 25th, 2010

The Prime Minister, David Cameron, has made a direct appeal to workers in the public sector to ask for suggestions for making services better and cheaper. In a short video on the Spending Challenge website http://spendingchallenge.hm-treasury.gov.uk/ he invites them to submit their ideas online for helping to cut budgets by 25 per cent. A letter signed by the Prime Minister and his deputy has also been sent to everyone working in the public sector.

The Spending Challenge is a call to contribute to the government’s Spending Review, helping to rethink public services to deliver more for less. It’s open initially to public sector workers between now and July 8th, when it will be opened to the wider public.

Ideas might be small-scale, but quick and easy to put into action or something more radical involving significant changes to where and how government works. Where people leave their email address, and anonymous suggestions will be accepted, someone in the Cabinet Office may come back to discuss the idea in more detail.

The Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister have committed that the government will look at every single idea that comes in. All the suggestions will be considered by a team of officials at the heart of government. The final Spending Review, which will set out detailed spending plans for all government departments, will be published on October 20th.

Dave Prentis UNISON general secretary has criticized the appeal. He said: ‘The efficiency savings made over the past three years have cut out most of the waste – there is very little fat left to cut. ’There is no escaping the fact that a 25 per cent cut will inevitably strike deep into the heart of the vital services that we all rely on. But it will hit the poorest and the most vulnerable the most.”