The Liberal Democrats are making a great deal of how honest, detailed and clear they are being about the needs for ‘tough choices’ in public spending. And by and large they do seem to be, but there are some areas where spin seems to have gotten the better of them.
One is about the tax burden on rich and poor, where they have been a bit economical with the facts. I won’t reherse that dsipute here, because the IFS has already demolished that argument.
But I’ve spotted one rather curious promise in their savings agenda: to save about £860m a year from from 2011/12 by “cut bureaucracy of local government inspection” (see page 102 of the Manifesto).
This is a very large amount. It is more than four times the entire budget of the Audit Commission (£209m in 2009) – which is the body that audits and inspects local government and which only spends about 75% of its budget on doing so. So even getting rid of the AC entirely would only save about £150m – where’s the other £700m coming from?
I tried ringing their Press Office but haven’t yet had an explanation…. but I’m sure in the interests of transparency they will provide one.