back to article Tory £12bn public sector cuts proposal would claim IT scalps

A Tory government would cut spending on public sector IT projects, office costs, contracts and hiring of new staff in an effort to hold back £12bn and swerve a rise in National Insurance contributions. David Cameron's party finally fleshed out Conservative plans on public spending this morning. Tory adviser Sir Peter Gershon …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It's not the consultants that are the problem.

    It's the consultancy firms.

    They just work out what the government can afford, and charge it.

    I was in a meeting the other day where the process could be summed up as "I've got a XXXX expert here, everyone's using it. Should we do something with XXXX?"

    Followed by the "We can't be expected to do something without money."

    "What's the budget?" He didn't let anyone leave the building until he had a figure.

    The entire problem they were trying to solve (the consultancy firm's inability to fix the problems outstanding,) wasn't even discussed.

    1. smudge
      Paris Hilton

      poachers turned gamekeepers

      > It's the consultancy firms.

      > They just work out what the government can afford, and charge it.

      And do you think Gershon (ex GEC Marconi, ex BAe Systems) and his sidekick Martin Read (ex GEC Marconi, head of Logica until recently) might be aware of this?

      Paris, because she uses the same business model.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up


    Don't see a problem here, most of the IT projects attempted by the government have turned out to be a total waste of time and money, doing little more than giving taxpayers money to big corporations in return for er... naff all.

    In reality, a £12bn cut means a handful of consultants have to prey elsewhere and the money that the government is currently burning to light their cigars could go on, oh, I dunno, tax cuts or paying of the national debt...

  3. Anonymous Coward

    Oh No

    Labour - more ID Cards, Mandybill etc.

    Conservatives - fewer independent consultants, more HP/EDS, Crapita, Accenture contracts (old chums)

    What coice do I have ? UKIP (racists) or Lib Dems (friends say I'm wasting my time voting for them).

    Gloom in the 1st few days and this is going to last a month :(

    1. Richard 120

      Similar Boat

      I am down to Lib Dem or a spoilt ballot.

      None of the thieving lying bastards.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Spoiled vote < no vote.

        If enough people spoil their votes, this is what will happen.

        The government who get in will pledge to make the ballot papers easier to understand since with so many people spoiling them they are clearly only intelligible to people who are already certified geniuses, which means geniuses prefer to vote for us which makes us the best government EVAR!!!1! *goes and breaks out the champagne, on expenses of course*

        Better to vote Lib Dem than to not vote than to spoil your vote.

    2. Ocular Sinister


      Repeat after me: Your vote is not wasted if your chosen party doesn't win; it's not a sweep stake; your are not trying to pick the winner. Rinse. Lather. Repeat. Voting for the smaller parties (smaller even then the lib dems) is exactly what's needed right now to give a good solid middle digit to this lot (and by "this lot" I mean labour, tory and lib dems alike).

      1. Richard 120

        No problem

        I'm hoping there will be a candidate or 2 to choose from this time, but where I was last time there was an election it was just the usual suspects, and they're just mostly crap.

        Votes are never wasted by me, I'll always vote, even if it's for none of the above. Voting is not a waste of time, the candidates we get stuck with usually are though.

      2. Anonymous Coward


        dont be a fool

        a hung parlament is the last thing we need, there has been too much BS for years, someone needs to take power and do the hard thing, stop pandering to the media and making stupid knee jerk reactions to issues we dont understand.

        Someone needs to get some balls and say, no, we are screwed, this must happen.

        and frankly for all labours arguing about the torys policys i respect anyone that will inforce paycuts for MPs reduce civil servants and stop stupid publicity schemes that cost millions and achieve nothing except a few more points in opinion polls.

      3. Mark 65

        Errr, no

        "Voting for the smaller parties (smaller even then the lib dems) is exactly what's needed right now to give a good solid middle digit to this lot (and by "this lot" I mean labour, tory and lib dems alike)."

        There is, like it or not, only 1 real choice and it is to vote Conservative to ensure that Labour are removed from power. You may then vote them out at the following election if desired. To allow Labour back in or to enable the prospect of a hung/hamstrung parliament will be to throw out the welcome mat for an IMF bailout. Believe me, you do not as a nation want to be headed there. Be pig-headed if you like but don't whine about the end result.

        Labour got voted back in twice and look just how things panned out. Everyone touts the more equitable society in which they now live - only thing is nobody can afford the bill for it.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Lib Dems not a wasted vote

      The Lib Dems are in second place in lots of constituencies so you're not wasting your time voting for them in those constituencies. They won't be the biggest party but they can still win seats in parliament and parliament still has some influence on the government, despite Blair's presidency.

      Of course, if the Lib Dems are in a poor third place in your constituency then you have a problem. Perhaps you could spoil your ballot paper by just writing your opinion on it?

    4. John Smith 19 Gold badge


      "or Lib Dems (friends say I'm wasting my time voting for them)."

      Depends. Some UK citizens *do* have a Lib Dem MP.

      The UK voting system really only gives 2 options. vote the incumbent back in or tactically vote them out by voting for the runner up from last time. If that was the Lib Dem then it might well be the best option. Without *some* kind of proportional representation (a system the German government has used with some success)*every* other vote *is* wasted.

  4. K

    About bloody time...

    I'm fed up with hearing about all the IT failures... billions being wasted on projects that never come to fruition.

  5. nichomach

    I think...

    ...before we caricature government IT projects as all being inherently wasteful, we could do worse than have a look at . Frankly, a lot of the time we're seeing nothing more than straw men being set up - like "the" new NHS IT system, which actually isn't A system at all - to be knocked down. Yes, there's a lot of waste and that needs tightening up, yes there are too many consultants, but you know damn well that the Tories won't actually cut *consultants* because Capita, Accenture et al are their bessie mates. What they will probably cut are the poor bloody infantry who get stuck with trying to make the systems provided by firms like that (and good old Electronic Disasters Supplied) work. And should they object, we can look forwardx to more of that smarmy git Cameron banging on about the unions again.

    Was going to be a "STOP" sign, but screw it, give the man a pineapple.

  6. nichomach

    And another thing, dammit...


    These are the same Tories whose big idea is "give everyone's data to Google", is it?

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Good Riddance

    I know it isn't most of the IT companies to blame for the overspending on IT projects. I've had first-hand experience in a similar vein to an earlier commenter:

    "We need it to be integrated"


    "Can you do it?"

    "Sure, for another few hundred thousand in costs it's 'possible' but.."

    "Ok, we'll do it"

    They need actual intelligent project leaders instead of people who think public money is an open license to spend.

    Still probably going to vote Lib Dem though, unless Tories have some other rubbish they want to spout without factual backing.

  8. Stu J

    @AC "Oh No"

    "fewer independent consultants" - where did it say that?

    I'm hoping if anything it'll be less HP/EDS/Capita/Accshiture as they're the ones that put the 300% profit margins on each consultant on site. If anything, it might be a good thing for the more highly skilled smaller consultancy firms and one-man-bands who charge less and deliver more...

  9. Neil 7
    Thumb Up

    One thing is for sure

    If 40,000 jobs were cut, very few British workers would find themselves out of work - their jobs were cut years ago when Labour turned a blind eye to rampant outsourcing.

  10. LawLessLessLaw

    No Defence cuts ?

    Not really a surprise but surely they can shave off some of the £40b+

    Govt. spending has increased by ~£110b in the last two years, and you thought you other half spent too much !

    1. Anonymous Coward


      Do people not get it, this is really simply, the govenment needs to keep people as happy as possible, so over the last few years what has the media and the people been jumping up an down about, equipment in the forces,

      everything happens for a reason, the govenment only green light all these bright ideas because it makes them look good, and if it doesnt plan out, well it doesnt matter because so many years have gone by no one can remember what it was about in the first place.

      The media and ourselves are to blame for this horrble mess we are in, we need one party thats going to change that, by definition Lib-dem cant do that, pandering to everyone isnt going to work, to get us out of this mess is going to pee a lot of people off, and if 40,000 govenment funded IT professionals get it then so be it, so long as it helps fix this mess we are in!!

  11. SlabMan

    Same old song

    Half the Tory MPs were consultants before becoming MPs, and they'll go back to consultancy after. Don't expect those turkeys to vote for Christmas.

    The problem with government IT projects is not the Civil Service, or the IT, it's the government (of whatever flavour). They have bright ideas which they want now, with no extra budget. Forget all that stuff that you actually need to get done.

    It's very similar to the stuff Lewis Page exposes under the defence heading, but (strangely) The Reg has no journo who understands Government IT and has the contacts to dish all the dirt. Rather more important than endless rants about the iPhone, but perhaps it wouldn't pull in so many ad clicks?

    Meanwhile, is there any sign in all the election campaigning of someone saying, 'We promise no new initiatives until we get what we already have to work properly'?

    Is there fuck.

    1. Gordon 10
      Thumb Up

      Brillian Idea

      I second the creation of an El Reg Government IT Desk with a resident Lewis-alikely.

      There must be a semi-literate veteran of EDS or one of the others to offer some pithy opinions on what smells in this arena.

      Howsabout it El Reg & Readers?

  12. Anonymous Coward

    Consultants are the SYMPTOM, not the cause...

    The consultancies are in there to do work that the Civil Service cannot do for many reasons:

    * The Civil Service is utterly risk averse to the extent that they cannot take chances with any large programme -- or small programme for that matter

    * The public sector pays dreadful rates so cannot compete with the private sector -- there's not even a specialist IT grade defined (there's economists, lawyers, vets...).

    * In-house skills simply don't exist within the Civil Service. Consultancies have specialists to hand who can demonstrate experience from many projects

    * Similarly for IT contractors; the Civil Service has to use them as they don't have the in-house resources available.

    The biggest challenge is where ministers are attempting to cut contractor's rates. A 10% cut is one thing, slashing rates to come in line with Civil Service pay rates will result in all the better contractors leaving in droves and the inability to recruit good replacements.

    Tackle the root causes: allow Civil Servants to have the occasional project failure in their CV without blighting their career -- they're utterly scared of being associated with any failures that they simply hand over everything to the consultancies. If it fails then, the Civil Servants can blame the consultancies.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      re: allow Civil Servants

      TBH - I most senior Civil Servants believe failure is more damaging to them than it actually is. (if something goes wrong they are often so shocked you admit responsibility they forget what comes next ;) )

      I think the real problem is that the people who get promoted to senior positions - don't tend to be the risk takers in life - so end up treating every decision as a risk avoidance exercise and forget the biggest risk is not making any decisions

  13. Dodgy Geezer Silver badge

    Remember CCTA?

    The government used to run its own internal civil service consultants, in a body called CCTA.

    They were closed down after extensive lobbying by consultancy companies.

    'nuff said.....

  14. Anonymous Coward

    bunch of hypocrites

    on one hand they claim that Labour's NI rise would be a tax on jobs and cause mass redundancy

    on the other, they say they want to cut 40,000 jobs to save money

    I can't see the bloody difference...

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Difference is...

      Labour want to make every worker pay an extra penny on their NI contributions while the Tories want to cut some of the stupid bureacratic posts Labour created to give jobs the cronies (what, we *really* need a seperate Minister for Women, Minister for Children, and all those others Blair and Brown created?) and you can't see a difference?

      Next you'll be telling me that if I looked in the press archives I'd see that every time a Tory member mentioned any of their spendnig plans, a few days later a Government spokesperson - often Lord Meddlesome - would suddenly announce Labour's great new idea... which just happened to be identical to what the Tories had said a few days previously... Oh wait, that *is* what happened. And people wonder why the Tories have kept quiet.

      Oh, and you *really* believe Management will let their company profits take the hit? It'll be straight out the workers' paypackets, and New Labour will turn a blind eye the way they have every time Management challenge legitimate strike ballots or pull some other shonky legal "masterpiece".

      Party for the working man my arse.

      1. Anonymous Coward


        Too damn right!

        We all know taxes will need to go up to pay for the monumental cock up that happened under labour, and you know what, i dont mind having to pay more, BUT, ill be buggered if im going to be ok with it whilst the govenment wastes countless billions on utter rubbish.

        First, hit govenment IT

        then, lets deal with the health and safety idiots making our lives that much more boring,

        then all the damn human rights lawers and consultants

        then weed out all the red tape and duplicate jobs in local councils and the various ministries

        Every company in this country is having to cut back, and so should central and local govenment,

  15. Anonymous Coward

    Scrap the government e-borders scheme

    There are some quite huge savings to be made. Shelving the governments e-borders scheme and the GP health IT projects would save a fortune.

    The Government could also scrap the first time buyers stamp duty scheme and make the purchasing of property fairer by adding a tiered stamp duty scheme.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    All that will happen....

    The UK gov depts find it impossible to recruit and retain good permanent ICT and Security people. If the UK gov departments stop hiring so many independent contractors, they will end up outsourcing to big business and big business will hire the contractors, costing the government extra. The UK gov has to do one of three things:

    1. Offer salaries in excess of those available in Industry to stimulate recruitment & retention

    2. Hire independent contractors to fill key posts and help them manage the big business outsourcers

    3. Streamline security vetting processes to enable faster recruitment

    The government will never do 1 or 3, so are stuck with 2.

    If the government really wants to save money they should make a lot of civil servants redundant where they dont perform, the civil service is far too protectionist of jobs for the unproductive and breeds laziness, they'll never do it though, because of the votes carried by the unions. The reason independent contractors stay in government is because they work hard, you dont need a reason to terminate a contractor, if he or she doesn't deliver, you serve them notice.

    If you have a waste of space civil servant, it's near impossible to get rid of them.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      Having worked in the public sector as both a permanent employee and a contractor I definitely agree it's the salary that is the biggest issue.

      If you want the talent, you need to pay for it. It's also the way that it is very difficult for permanent government employees to progress their career because somebody either needs to die or retire, and then everybody moves up a notch.

      You can't just go to your manager and outline the reasons that you deserve a raise, no matter how good of a job you've done. You are stuck on the scale system they use that only allows you to progress so far.

      A lot of the less talented staff (and yes there are plenty of them, the ones that have no drive or pride in their wok) are the ones that end up staying in the same job for most of their lives, never moving on to bigger and better things. The ones who have that determination and the skills move on to better paid jobs elsewhere.

      In case you were wondering I preferred doing it contracting and earning the better money, no longer getting tied down into the same job with no progression etc. Luckily i've recently moved into the world of the private sector where you can actually make decent money (what you deserve if you have the talent).

      If they paid better wages they would have a much better selection of candidates for each job, they should also "trim the fat" as there are a lot of employees (especially in Local Gov) who don't do a whole lot and have just been there for years and so became a part of the furniture.

    2. Anonymous Coward


      yup, which is why we need to abolish the humans rights act and reform the law.

      If some one is crap at a job, why do we need to jump through hoops to get rid of them, and if they play the game and go long term sick we cant touch them!

      its a joke,

      im in the mood for a revolution, we cant get any more unstable so nows probably the best time! ;)

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Is that the sound of Crapita crying into their champagne?

    The post is required, and must contain letters.

  18. Dominic

    Cut Govt IT costs by 50%

    It's pretty easy. Stop paying £800/day for a Crapita/EDS/Logica consultant and get in an independant contractor who will do it for £400/day.

  19. John A Blackley

    Two words

    Scrap Trident

    1. Anonymous Coward


      Didn't know there were any still flying! Is that why BA cabin crew want to go on strike?

    2. Anonymous Coward

      oh dear

      and remove our only nuclear deterrent?

      yes very good, in the ideal world id agree, but its not ideal and unless the whole stinking planet backs down gradually its a stupid suggestion to make.

      Do remember that whilst us the US and russia have been cutting back over the years there our other places that are not to happy with us building more of them,

      Thats the whole point of having them, because the other guy knows if he tries something on we can delete their country from existance.

  20. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

    A change of tack to sort out the men from the boys

    Would it be too much to ask any firm wanting to work on a project for the Public sector to also provide for its own funding from the Banking Sector, rather than saying they can do anything and everything but leave their payment to be arranged by others and expect the man in the street who doesn't deal in money to pay for everything. That's what Banks are surely for ....... to distribute currency flows in order to generate Industry and Enterprise, Care and Attention.

    It is amazing what magic people will do for a handful of paper/fistful of dollars and which cost virtually nothing to make, and thus is everything created and looked after for free and at no expense to anybody.

  21. This post has been deleted by its author

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Ah well?

    In theory...

    That's the public sector vote gone away from Tories

    That's the IT and business consultancy business gone away from the Tories.

    I accept it is all theory and conjecture (the silly sods will probably vote Tory anyway moaning, groaning, groaning and moaning "Oh flagellate me more sir"?

    More to follow from HP (consultants to government departments and procurer of services to government departments) in fullest appreciation of the new policy?

  23. Anonymous Coward

    ***** Instant "Efficiency Savings" dont exists ******

    Its ridiculous for anyone to claim that they get money through Efficiency Savings in the short term.

    To make things more efficient you need to invest. In fact one of the top methods of achieving efficiency is through IT.

    Its the same as the whole middle management rant. Decently deployed middle management help make things more efficient. They recognise what types of activity at the ground level is wasteful. The whole concept ripples up. The reason why top execs get paid hoards of money is that if they are good they can get 100x returns on what they costs.

    Now , its an imperfect world which means that are shit IT deployments, shit middle managers and shit execs. But you cant dismiss everything on the basis that sometimes it breaks.

    So cutting out IT investment is plain dumb. Sure there might be some IT project that dont make sense but the majority do.

    Its like energy conservation measures. Yeah you should clad your walls and roof because it helps to conserve energy. There is no reason to heat up the exterior of your house. But those savings arent instant.

    I'm no fan of this government but the Tories are really pissing me off. If it rains, its the governments fault. Global financial crisis its governments fault. Tories are desperate to get into power. They will say anything to anyone and if it earn them votes. They will randomly cut to get the numbers they want. When it causes a melt-down they will blame Labour for the legacy situation. Labour of have put off a few things prior to the election but at least they been open about some of it and stick to their reasoning.

    Which Lib Dems were credible, but they not.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Err, saving money is very simple.

      labour are a dying horse an they know it.

      I bet i can make instant savings in IT, well elast i could if there wasnt so much red tape to go through, but assuming that was removed as well, without knowing anything about it, i could go in and save money, firstly in the short term, then long term. thats how business work.

      you plan for the long run and tighten the money in the short term.

      You are missing the point, of course whoever is in power is going to get slatted, the country is screwed, i mean, we will run out of power in a few years thats how bad it is, so whoever the next govenment is, is going to have a bad run of it, and yes i can promise you that if it isnt labour then in 4-5 years time they will be the ones saying "we could have done better" and you know what, people will beleave them because everyone is going to be fed up with having to fix our current mess, so they will vote Labour forgetting it was under their govenment that the whole mess happened in the first place.

      We need a change its just a shame that whoever is going to get in can pretty much kiss the next election good bye.

  24. kissingthecarpet

    Best we can hope for is a hung parliament


    1. Anonymous Coward


      THe last thing we need is that, we need a single voice that can get on with the job. if you was wanting a hung parliament you may as well just vote lib dem since they are incapable of making and firm long term decisions if it upsets anyone.

      1. CD001

        a dictionary

        "Hung: to put to death by suspending by the neck from a gallows, gibbet, yardarm, or the like."

        - is, I believe, the point that was being made, hence the word "literally" *sighs*

  25. TheTallGuy

    Let's see

    Which would I rather lose one per cent or 100 per cent of my wages? Tricky that.

    Aren't contractors/consultants meant to be cheaper as they don't get all the company "benefits" ?

    Having said that there were some non technical consultants on £2500 a day on my last job. WTF! Despite them the project saved 40 million a year.

    Need a drink now, too depressing.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      not quite so clear.

      lets see, 40 million people paying more money, not helping the tens of thousands already in serious financial dept, or potentially 40,000 of some of the highest paid people in the country (meaning they earn more than then national averge wage) some of the higher educated people, and people who probably have the mentality to change their carrear, having to find a new job.

      Tricky that.

      This country is bigger than you my friend and if we are all selfish then we are going no where. perhaps if the IT companies didnt take advantage of the govenments inability to balance its books then you wouldnt be in that situation either.

  26. skeptical i

    @AC, "True", 09-APR-2010 19:58

    In my [admittedly limited] experience with the public sector (and a bit in non-profit), I do not think it's the low salaries that cause lackadaisical performance, per se, so much as the fact that those who have ethics, want to do a good job, and generally bust hump become demoralized when they look into the next cubicle and see some airhead doing precisely nothing all day yet bringing in similar paycheck. (And then when promotions get doled out to management's friends and not to those actually qualified .... ) Raising salaries without raising and enforcing performance standards (firing the seat- warmers, rewarding the ass- busters) will probably not solve the problem.

  27. Anonymous Coward

    An unpalatable truth...

    I work with large IT departments in both the public and private sector. In my experience, the public sector employs around three times as many people to provide exactly the same services at exactly the same uptime and to exactly the same end-user satisfaction level.

    Not only that, but those in the public sector have more meetings, make fewer decisions and make more demands on my time than their private sector counterparts.

  28. Anonymous Coward

    Who to vote for?

    Was it just coincidence that Mandy decided to initiate draconian measures against file sharers days after meeting David Geffen in Corfu for dinner at Rothchild's villa?


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