Westminster insiders see uncertain future for ‘Spending Review’ system.

As I have argued (see ‘The Death of Strategy in British Government’, May 5th below), the future of the Spending Review system introduced by Gordon Brown in 1998 is now in serious doubt.

If the government had stuck to previous practice we would have had a Spending Review announcement in the summer of this year, but that has been abandoned and nothing firm said about what will happen next. Some have assumed the system will continue, but for the reasons I set out last week that looks increasingly unlikely.

Today a poll of Westminster insiders by PoliticsHome website confirms the doubts. Their poll question about Spending Review, which I asked for, found that:

 – only just over a third (36%) of their expert panel definitely think spending reviews will revive whoever wins the Election and

– fifth (19%) already think spending reviews are definitely dead in the water.

The rest are uncertain. Hardly a resounding vote of confidence in the supposedly ‘strategic’ and world-leading system the government has run for the past 10 years (unlike say Bank of England independence which is universally accepted).

There is clear ‘left-right’ split amongst the panel:

– a majority of left and centre expect spending reviews to be revived but

– a majority of the right either don’t know or think it won’t happen whoever gets in

This could be seen as the usual left-right split over “planning” and that a Tory victory – as seems likely – would probably mark the end of this experiment.

But the overall impression is of deep uncertainty about what the likely policy of either Labour or Conservatives would be and doubt about whether the system will survive. This is partly because neither party are saying publicly what they would do and it not being obvious from their general stance what they would do, and partly because of the general uncertainty.

(I should declare an interest, as I’m a member of the Phi100 panel).

see also Jane Dudman in PUBLIC

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