Troubled public services costing government £10bn

A new report has claimed that the government is spending over £10 billion over five years just to keep troubled public services going, despite not solving the issues.

Performance Tracker, published by the Institute for Government and the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA), analyses 100 data sets across nine key public services and reports that the government is making poor and reactionary spending decisions, instead of getting ahead of problems before they become crises.

The report found that despite schools and adult social care services receiving emergency cash injections, there remains no clear plan for what happens when this extra money runs out. Additionally, spending is increasing in hospitals and prisons without signs of improvement.

Performance Tracker also calls for the creation of a new watchdog, similar to the Office of Budget Responsibility, to scrutinise the assumptions underpinning government decisions about public spending.

Rob Whiteman, chief executive of CIPFA, said: “The government must go beyond moving from one reactive cash injection to the next, because this fails to assess sustainability of many public services. It may now be more effective to stop some services than see them collapse. The choices facing the chancellor are limited, but government must do better at medium to long term financial planning using one set of robust numbers that underpin policy assumptions and budget allocations. This requires an honest assessment of current performance and what is affordable, with higher spending in some areas.”