IFG - New PM must move quickly to face the spending challenge

15 Sep 2016 08:51 AM

Brexit presents a range of challenges for the country, but a new paper finds the public is more likely now to believe that politicians will prioritise running government effectively.

The findings are part of the latest Institute for Government report looking at the spending challenge facing the new Government. The paper argues that the Conservative manifesto promise to cut spending while improving public services was a hugely ambitious agenda – even without the added pressure of Brexit.

The Spending Challenge advises May to learn from Cameron’s failure and avoid making implausible commitments. For example, NHS plans assumed sustained efficiency savings of over 2% a year, despite the fact that this has never happened before. Forcing services like NHS to pretend they can deliver cuts that everyone knows are unachievable is counterproductive.

The new PM can look to shift cuts to other areas (reducing the protections on pensioner benefits is listed as one example), but that will only alter – not eliminate – the spending challenge.

Julian McCrae, Institute for Government Deputy Director, said:

“There is a clear belief from the public that Theresa May’s Government could be different. Making a clean break from the past and setting a serious strategy for the future will not only help achieve the Government’s aims – it will also be welcomed by the public.

“Whether the public’s more hopeful attitude is just a short-term bounce, fading away as people see more of Theresa May’s Government, or this marks a turning point in how people view politicians, will depend heavily on the actions of the Government over the next few months.”

The paper finishes by pointing out that since it is already one year in, the new administration simply does not have time to start again from scratch. It offers three key pieces of advice for Theresa May to help face the spending challenge: she should set out a clear set of priorities, build on work already in place, and engage the public in the contentious changes.

Notes to editors

  1. The full paper can be found on our website – charts are available as separate image files upon request.
  2. The Institute for Government is an independent think tank that works to make government more effective.
  3. Populus interviewed 2,035 GB adults online between 31 August and 1 September 2016. Data is weighted to be nationally representative. Populus is a founder member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules. Further information at www.populus.co.uk.
  4. For more information, please contact nicole@instituteforgovernment.org.uk / 07850313791.