Sunday, September 18, 2005

Office of the Deputy Prime Minister (Part 1)

OK, here, after much struggle, is the first posting for my £50 billion project. I've picked on the Office of the Deputy PM for the simple reason that a commenter in my original posting on the project suggested that the whole department should go. Now, while this would have a certain emotional resonance, I can't help feeling that someone, somewhere in the ODPM must be doing something worthwhile, so this is my attempt to find them.

The level of financial information in the ODPM annual report is pretty rudimentary. It's clear that the main purpose is self-justification rather than provision of useful information, but there is enough for us to have a stab at identifying some savings.

What follows below is the Resource Consumption budget for the department. A later posting will cover the other budgets. I've highlighted in red those areas which I think could be cut completely.


Regional development agencies

Corporate welfare


Supporting people

Support for good causes like housing the deaf and blind, as well as less obviously deserving cases like ex-prisoners and travellers. I may revisit this if I need further savings later in the process.


New Deal for Communities

Gives grants “to community-based partnerships for neighbourhood renewal.”


New Ventures Fund

Bit of a mystery this one as even the ODPM’s website tells us very little about it. I think it’s part of the regional regeneration boondoggle and therefore gets cut.


English Partnerships

Regeneration again.


Thames Gateway and other growth areas

Regeneration again.





Left in because of the political difficulty in reform of planning rather than any enthusiasm for planning on my part.


Other Housing


Housing Corporation

Regulates and funds social housing.


European Regions Development fund

Regeneration again.




Other Sustainable Communities

Regeneration again.



Planning for major disasters


Other programmes




I've taken the line of getting rid of anything that looks like non-job creation schemes or corporate welfare. All development agencies and the like are out. I'm shying away from anything to do with welfare to the poor individuals at the moment. The slash and burn approach which I'm taking here is not appropriate when you are dealing with these areas.

The "Supporting people" spend is very tempting, but it's not easy to identify exactly how much of this is meaningful welfare and how much is subsidy to favoured groups. It goes without saying that welfare needs to be reformed, but I'm trying to reach £50bn without frightening anyone, so I'll leave this alone for the mo'. If I come up short of the target I'll come back and take another look.

So there you have it. One budget of one department. Total savings identified: £957 million.