Recent Articles

Five things you need to know about the Legal Aid Bill

by Clifford Singer     March 2, 2012 at 11:45 am

1. At least 500,000 people will be denied justice
The Legal Aid Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill will deny legal aid to more than half a million people a year, according to the government’s own research. Legal aid will be removed from most cases relating to debt, family break-up (including contact with children), education, clinical negligence, welfare benefits, housing, employment and immigration.

The most vulnerable in society – those who are poor, old, disabled or mentally ill – will be hardest hit.
continue reading… »

Five things you need to know about the NHS bill

by Clifford Singer     February 20, 2012 at 8:45 am

1 The bill will cost at least £2 billion
Estimates of the cost of implementing the Health and Social Care Bill range from the government’s £1.3 billion to Labour’s £3.5 billion, but most independent analysts estimate at least £2 billion.

The government claims the bill will save money in the long run but even the Conservative-led parliamentary health committee says this is unlikely unless standards of care are cut. £1 billion is being spent on redundancy for managers, only for many to be rehired as consultants.
continue reading… »

The information architecture behind False Economy and the cuts data

by Clifford Singer     April 12, 2011 at 4:27 pm

As part of a project to make available to programmer data on the government’s cuts – called APIs Against the Cuts – Sunny asked me write on the information architecture behind the False Economy website.

False Economy was built using the ExpressionEngine CMS – which has also been used by 38 Degrees, the Obama campaign and A List Apart among others. It’s built with PHP and uses a MySQL database.

False Economy crowd-sources information about:
continue reading… »

Spending Challenge is back!

by Clifford Singer     August 20, 2010 at 12:28 pm

Spending Challenge websiteGeorge Osborne is nothing if not persistent. First his much-derided Spending Challenge website was taken down after being swamped with racist and other offensive statements.

Then his Spending Challenge Facebook page – announced via a much-trailed web conference between David Cameron and Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg – was deleted after it was beaten by a goat.

And, finally, Robin Hood Tax launched their own, much more sensible, alternative. But now Spending Challenge is back for more.
continue reading… »

How close is Michael Gove to the New Schools Network?

by Clifford Singer     July 22, 2010 at 9:05 am

What a curious beast is the New Schools Network, the "independent charity" that championed the plans for "free schools" now being rushed through Parliament by Education Secretary Michael Gove. Click on the group’s online form to "Sign up for more information" and a message appears:

We may pass relevant details to the Department for Education so they can provide assistance. If this is a problem please email us on…

How many other "independent charities" pass your details to government unless you email to object?
continue reading… »

Government’s Spending Challenge website now offers you comedy gold

by Clifford Singer     July 14, 2010 at 9:15 am

The government’s Spending Challenge website, launched last week on Friday, invites us to send our ideas for cuts.

A team has been put together right at the heart of government," claims the blurb on the homepage, "and their job is to make sure that your ideas and comments are taken seriously."

Which is deeply worrying, because for the most part the contributors to Spending Challenge give the impression that they have moved there directly from the Daily Express comments board.

Many entries have little bearing on government doing "more for less" and instead reflect personal hobby-horses, like the ubiquitous "Bring Back Capital Punishment".
continue reading… »

Is this why Sir Alan Budd distanced himself from the Tories?

by Clifford Singer     July 7, 2010 at 12:52 pm

Osborne's Bureau for RebuttalSir Alan Budd’s sudden resignation from Osborne’s Bureau for Rebuttal is the perfect moment to remind ourselves of his astonishing – but essentially correct – analysis of Tory economic policy in the 1980s (from Adam Curtis’s 1992 documentary Pandora’s Box).

(video clip after the fold)
continue reading… »

‘Pay restraint must include private sector’

by Clifford Singer     July 4, 2010 at 11:00 am

Equality campaign One Society has issued an excellent response to reports of high wages earned by quango and union chiefs.

There is no excuse for some labour leaders, in particular, to be earning six-figure sums. But the real rot remains in the private sector, where bonuses and top salaries continue to spiral while the rest of us are promised an age of austerity.

What One Society don’t say, however, is that the TaxPayers’ Alliance is targetting unions for one reason: to undermine opposition to public sector cuts and the increased inequality those cuts will bring.

One Society Media Release: 2 July 2010

Pay restraint starts at home, but must include private sector

  • The links between health and pay inequalities
  • Top pay in every sector out of balance
  • Pay transparency is not enough; need to introduce wage ratios
  • Call for trade union leaders to back wage ratios within their own unions and for wider economy

Responding to the release of data on top pay within quangos, Malcolm Clark, campaign director of One Society, said:

“On a day when a report finds the life expectancy gap between rich and poor widening, we are confronted with yet more stories of high salaries for the few. The rewards – both financial and health-wise – of the past decade’s economic growth have disproportionately gone to those already at the top. And we fear this entrenched inequality is set to continue.”

“Those with the broadest shoulders are not bearing the broadest burden of reducing the deficit. Instead, these people had the broadest smiles after the Budget; having avoided a significant Capital Gains Tax rise or other measures beyond what was already in place from previous Budgets. Whereas, the impact of benefit changes, the VAT rise, cuts and rising unemployment will be felt much more keenly lower down the income scale. That balance needs to be redressed.”

“Where the Government and the Tax Payers’ Alliance are correct is in thinking that good practice should start at home – within the public sector, quangos and employee representation bodies (including the unions). Increased pay transparency is not going to make much difference on its own though.”

“What will is introducing wage ratios, where top pay is capped at a maximum multiple of the salary of the lowest paid employees. For the unions, wage ratios have the added advantage of focusing attention on the lowest as well as the highest earnings within an organisation: giving momentum to bring low wages up whilst stemming runaway pay at the top.”

“The Greater London Assembly has set the standard for others to follow: committing not just to a 1:20 wage ratio; but to lowering that over-time to 1:10 (as well as paying the London Living Wage as a minimum salary). That lower figure is already within easy reach for trade unions, and could be used as a starting point for going further, including within the workplaces of their members. We will shortly be calling on the candidates for General Secretary of Unite union to back such a move.”

“However, the Tax Payers’ Alliance and others should worry more about the salaries of private sector contractors and consultants whose inflated pay drains valuable money out of the public sector. Precisely as the government’s Fair Pay Review acknowledges in its terms of reference: ‘distortions and market failures in private sector pay create pressure for unfair pay multiples in the public sector’. Only once we have transparent and fair pay – including wage ratios – in the private sector will real change (and savings) in the public sector be possible.”

Why else has the TPA suddenly extended its remit to look beyond public spending? And now that unions are fair game, surely it’s time for the TPA to come clean on its own opaque finances?

Here are three ways to respond to Tory cuts

by Clifford Singer     June 23, 2010 at 11:45 am

Since the banking crash it’s been fashionable for lefty commentators to quote Obama’s chief of staff Rahm Emanuel: “You never want a serious crisis to go to waste. And what I mean by that is an opportunity to do things you think you could not do before.”

But the unpalatable truth is that while we’ve been talking about not letting a crisis go to waste, the right have been getting on and doing it.

Or, in the foggier language of Mark Littlewood, director of the free-market Institute of Economic Affairs: “We are trying to ensure that necessity is the mother of invention, in that the deficit spurs the coalition to take a broader view of what the public sector should be doing.”
continue reading… »

The TPA is joining its right-wing friends

by Clifford Singer     March 1, 2010 at 6:22 pm

In a recent interview TPA chief exec Matthew Elliot claimed he is ‘not sure which party we are closest to’. Alas this sudden outbreak of openmindedness doesn’t seem to have lasted long.

The TPA has announced it’s moving to plush new offices in Tufton Street, close to Westminster.

They boasts that its neighbours include Big Brother Watch (unsurprisingly – as Big Brother Watch is pretty much the TPA), Civitas, the Conservative Cooperative Movement, the New Culture Forum, the Centre for Policy Studies, and the Nothing British campaign among other right-wing groups.
continue reading… »

« Older Entries ¦ ¦