All this talk about balancing the budget is …

Remember the Maastricht criteria? No, I didn’t think so. Nor apparently do Britain’s political leaders, based on their manifestos for tackling the UK’s deficit. The Maastricht Criteria were the convergence criteria for European countries that wanted to join the Euro. Agreed in 1992 (including by John Major’s Conservative government) it covered inflation, deficits, debt, exchange […]

Whitehall Watch Manchester Policy Blog

The last thing Whitehall needs is a Chief Financial Officer

It has been announced that the Treasury is to create a new chief financial officer role for central government. Professor Colin Talbot argues this is simply another impressive-sounding but ill-conceived attempt to quickly fix a complex problem. The coalition’s latest wheeze is to create a new government Chief Financial Officer, similar to the position found […]


There is life beyond austerity; now give us the freedom to make it happen

During Manchester Policy Week, four leading thinktanks debated what government might look like beyond the General Election and towards 2020. In an abridged version of his speech at the event IPPR North’s Director, Ed Cox (pictured above, standing), says there is life beyond the current austerity measures – but only if there are significant changes to present […]

Whitehall Watch Manchester Policy Blog

Could Budget 2015 lead to our very own version of the Washington Shut Down?

“The last government defeat over estimates was in 1921 … nowadays any amendment would be tantamount to a vote of no confidence.” (Whener, 2010: p8). Could we see, in March 2015, the first example of a real conflict within Parliament on the Government’s Budget proposals, leading to a Washington-style impasse? There are several reasons to […]

Parliament and Public Spending – interesting letter

I thought the following letter was an interesting addition to discussion about Parlaiment’s role in deciding budgets (see also my post on PF Blog) from former civil and public servant Des McConaghy.

Democracy Demands: Show Us The Money!

In the film Jerry Maguire, Cuba Gooding Jr. famously demands of his Agent Maguire (Tom Cruise) that he “show me the money”. The message (in context) is simple – no amount of smooth talking from his Agent is good enough – Gooding’s character wants to see the actual money. This is a good lesson to […]

Public Spending in the UK: Public Sector Debt

The debate on the future of the public finances and especially spending on public services has finally come to the fore after all the diversions of the past few months. What are the crucial questions that we should demand of our politicians? Over the next couple of weeks I’m going to try to outline what […]

Universities and the Impact of the Recession

I recently attended a ‘professorial dinner’ at Manchester, the purpose of which was to discuss our future strategy. The main message at the start was – universities, after a decade of a relatively benign environment, face a decade or more of austerity. How are we placed to deal with this new reality and what should […]

Budget 09 – What Would the Tories Do?

While everyone focuses on the Governments plans as set out in Budget 09, let’s pause for a moment and consider the Tories options.

Efficiency savings urged to ease pain of cuts

from the FT – By Nicholas Timmins Published: March 10 2009 00:39 | Last updated: March 10 2009 00:39