Targets? What targets? Change and Continuity in the performance regime in Whitehall

We were told, when the new Coalition Government came to be, that it would put an end to “New Labour targetry”. The use of targets for public sector performance had become a bête noir of both Conservatives and Liberal Democrats in Opposition and they apparently couldn’t wait to scrap the whole lot once they were in power.

And indeed they did immediately scrap the Public Service Agreements (30) and Departmental Strategic Objectives (95 for the Departments we have counted).

But for the past two decades I have had this annoying habit – I don’t believe Governments, especially about these sorts of things. So I have done what I usually do and gone and counted. And the answers are surprising, even to me. Continue reading

#SR2013 Watch No. 3: The Spending Review they can’t live with, and can’t live without?

When the Coalition Government published its Spending Review in 2010 it ambitiously set out spending plans not for 3 years, as had been the case in the 5 previous Spending Reviews under New Labour, but for 4 years. This was always “ambitious Minister”, as Sir Humphrey would say. Continue reading

Doubling Dip: is it the government’s fault?

So, Britain is officially in a ”double-dip” recession, just. In reality this is both more and less serious than it sounds. It is more serious because we are still a good 4% of GDP lower than we were at the start of the financial crisis in 2007. And that is probably between 10% or more below where we would have been if not for the banking crisis. Continue reading