Wednesday, 8 October 2008

Boris Johnson makes huge savings to his savings

Anyone else remember this particular piece of spin published in the God's honest Daily Mail last month?

"Boris Johnson will offer David Cameron a possible blueprint for a future Tory Government when he announces plans for a huge cost-cutting drive."

Huge eh? You better live up to that billing now Boris. How much are we talking here?

"The capital's mayor will unveil details of a major restructuring of the Greater London Authority that will see spending cut by up to 15 per cent on a vow to 'do more for less'."

'More for less' eh? That's what we like here at the Troll - impossible promises.

"He says his overhaul will mean reductions of nearly £500 million in the mayor's £3.2 billion annual budget."

£500 million? Have they got that right? Maybe we should check the actual figures from the Mayor's budget guidance:

"For 2009-10 a reduction of 15 per cent in net revenue expenditure from the amount of £79.1 million (which excludes the contribution to the Olympic and Paralympic Games)."

Whoops! So it was actually a 15 per cent reduction in City Hall spending, not GLA-wide spending. And we are only talking about a cut of £12 million, not £500 million. 

Those cost-cutting claims aren't looking too credible so far. But hang on what's this from the Assembly's pre-budget report:

"A high-level announcement was made by the Mayor of 15 per cent savings... Our key findings are that the 15 per cent announced was not quite what it seemed, being in fact around 5 per cent once previously planned reductions in expenditure on the elections (and) the removal of planned growth are taken into account."

You what?

"Spending on GLA elections peaks in election years and then falls away immediately following elections.

The previously planned change in expenditure on elections will result in a reduction of £6.2 million in net revenue expenditure between 2008/09 and 2009/10 (there is £400,000 of planned expenditure on the elections in 2009/10, compared to £6.6 million in 2008/09).

This cannot reasonably be described as an efficiency saving or a budget cut – it simply reflects the usual pattern of expenditure on GLA elections."

So well over half of Boris's 'cost cutting drive' wasn't actually a cost cutting drive at all. And the billed £500 million GLA saving, actually amounted to less than a £4 million saving at City Hall.

Oh well, never mind Boris. I guess the place wasn't as 'mired' in waste as you made out.


Anonymous said...

That's the problem when you hire a newspaper editor to lead a 'forensic review', you just get more creative ways to spin the figures.

Will said...

So he pulled a King Canute with the figures then. So much for the end to spin.