It is reported in the Telegraph today that the Tories are going to make civil servants accountable for wasting taxpayers money. In a speech today, George Osborne will set out plans to punish or sack government employees who knowingly waste public money.
Well done, George! As we have argued for years at the TPA, if there is no accountability and no consequences for irresponsible, wasteful behaviour, then the culture of frittering our hard-earned cash away on pointless projects will never change.
Further, Osborne is keen to set out a 'Google government' plan, where taxpayers can go online and see how their money is being spent, and decide for themselves if they are getting value for money. They have this in the States, and it works well. It empowers people to hold the government of the day to account. Visit www.usaspending.gov to see how it works.
All very refreshing, particularly after years of opacity and financial incontinence from Gordon Brown's government. The real beauty of this scheme is that, once in place, it will continue to work for taxpayers, regardless of who's in Downing Street.
Particularly now, against the backdrop of further taxpayer bail-outs for banks and other industries, this is a canny move. The really frightening thing about bail-outs is that they're like second hand cars - whatever they look like from the outside, it's only once you get under the bonnet that you know what you're dealing with. Brown and Darling have bought some real pups, I suspect, and taxpayers have no idea yet as to the scale of their liabilities. If this system is put in place, it will go at least some way towards assuring taxpayers that someone understands our anxieties. The days of tolerating waste and idiotic misuse of taxpayers' money must be got rid of and left behind permanently.
These proposals would be a victory for taxpayers, here's hoping they stick to them.