‘There are no more efficiency savings to be had’, says Women’s Budget Group

Date Posted: Wednesday 1st March 2017

1st March 2017



On Monday 27th February, the government announced that it will be asking ministerial departments to outline spending cuts of 3% and 6% with the aim of reaching savings targets of up to £3.5bn by 2020, shortly after the UK is set to leave the EU and ahead of the general election.[1]

David Gauke, the chief secretary to the Treasury, announced that each department should frame these cuts under the government’s “efficiency review”, which was first set out in the 2016 Budget. It was further announced that departmental cuts will not apply to core budgets for the NHS or schools, and local government cuts are to be used to “ease pressures on social care”.

Commenting on the proposed cuts, WBG Co-Director, Dr Mary-Ann Stephenson said:

“Public services are already severely stretched, with public spending as a proportion of GDP falling to new lows. There are no more ‘efficiency savings’ to be had – these cuts to spending will impact on service delivery at a time when we know that unmet needs are rising.

“Lone parents and female single pensioners have borne the brunt of public service cuts to date. Our research shows that by 2020, lone mothers will have seen their living standard fall by 10.4% as a result of cuts to public services since 2010 and female single pensioners by 7.3%.[2] This is on top of cuts to benefits and tax credits.

“But these cuts do not just hurt the individuals that no longer have access to vital services. They also risk economic sustainability by cutting public sector employment and, hence, impacting on demand in the wider economy.

“At a time when international organisations, such as the IMF, are recognizing the value of public investment, we call on the government to use the Budget on 8th March to invest in the UK’s social infrastructure. This will help deliver the essential services we all rely on and benefit the economy.