Chapter

Did Government Cost Less?

Christopher Hood and Ruth Dixon

in A Government that Worked Better and Cost Less?

Published in print April 2015 | ISBN: 9780199687022
Published online May 2015 | e-ISBN: 9780191766930 | DOI: https://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199687022.003.0004
Did Government Cost Less?

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Chapter 4 assesses a key element often associated with New Public Management—its capacity to effect cost-cutting in government—by looking at what happened to reported running costs in UK civil departments and the paybill of the civil service over thirty years. The analysis shows that administration costs—so far as they can be reliably tracked—rose substantially in real terms over thirty years, while civil service pay costs remained relatively stable, falling slightly against UK average earnings. That means that the increase in running costs over the period cannot be explained by a rise in civil service paybill, but rather by increases in the outsourcing component of running costs. There were some times when running costs fell relative to total spending, if that is how ‘costs less’ should be construed—but past performance provides very limited inspiration for more recent plans to cut administration costs in absolute terms.

Keywords: running costs; cost cutting; New Public Management; civil service paybill; outsourcing; administration costs

Chapter.  8389 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: UK Politics ; Comparative Politics

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