Ritically analyze how successful the British governmentas use of Spending Reviews has been as a way of making government more a?strategica?.

Analysis should cover Spending Reviews during the periods of growth (1998-2007) and austerity (2008 onwards).
It should include a discussion of how useful linking spending to performance has been.
You may use international or historical examples as comparators where relevant, but this is not essential.

You can focus on specific aspects of the assignment, e.g:
The success, or otherwise, of linking political priorities to spending plans; or The success, or otherwise, of linking spending to results; or The impact of politics on SRs timing, content and process; or The impact of the economic crisis; etc.

Some aspects to look at or focus on:
1.How does SR system compare to the old PES system?/2.How well was this done under Labour? Did SRs help Labour implement its priorities? Including different phases of the Labour Government?/3.How has it changed under the Coalition?/4.How well was this done under Labour?/5.How has it changed under the Coalition?/6.Departmental Business Plans/7.How have social trends (e.g. aging population) interacted with the political strategies embedded in SRs?/8.Has the radically changed economic context changed both the nature and content of SRs?/9.How do current British reforms compare to historical or international attempts to make similar changes?/10.What lessons can be drawn from this whole experiment?/11.Is it possible to make medium term spending and performance plans?


Some Q&A of this assignment:
1. You certainly need to look at the overall picture, but you can also look in more depth at specific departments/areas of spending like education and health, to see if a for example a Labour achieved its original objective of a?Education, Education, Educationa? as its priority (or did they change priorities?) Again, PESA is the best source for data. It is fine to focus more attention on specific years so long as you include some overview of the whole period and evolution of the system.

2. Is there an exact definition/explanation for the term strategic in this context?
A: There were essentially three levels of strategy:
a? Fiscal Strategy
a Choices about overall levels of spending (and taxation and borrowing)
a? Spending Strategy
a Choices about allocations within government spending between departments, policies, current and capital, etc.
a? Departmental Strategy
a More detailed choices about spending on agencies, policies, and projects.
We were concerned only with the first two of these, and a?strategya? in this context meant significant changes to the patterns and levels of spending.

3. A full evaluation would include an assessment of economic performance, but for this essay we are mainly limiting the governments aims to just two things: (i) what they set out to do on public spending in the SRs (e.g. on total spending and on priorities within that) and (ii) what they define as their a?performance aimsa as embedded in PSAs and Departmental Business Plans.

(Q&A 4-6 to be continued in the Referencing Requirements Box)

Referencing Requirements:
You can find all their reports via this page:
treasury-committee/publications/previous-sessions/

Some reference sources:
Spending Reviews themselves /Treasury website/Public Expenditure Statistical Analysis (HMT)/Treasury Select Committee reports/National Audit Office reports/Institute for Fiscal Studies

For information on actual spending patterns see the Public Expenditure Statistical Analysis (PESA).
11 (the first fall in real-terms in a very long time).
However, because of the growth in areas like interest payments of the national debt, total spending may still be increasing whilst spending on services goes down.
This is complicated by spending on a?transfersa? (benefits, pensions, etc) which tends to rise with inflation. The current government is trying to cut welfare spending by reducing some benefits; not increasing others by the rate of inflation; excluding more people from benefits; etc. but this is very hard to achieve.
Both of the above mostly come under Annually Managed Expenditure (AME).
(3) a?Reala terms public spending is based on accounting for a?generala? inflation as it affects the whole economy. But demand for public services and obligations to pay benefits increase usually by higher than the rate of general inflation. So public spending is also often seen as changes as compared to previous plans or long-term trends. So if spending is cut from what was originally planned or expected, even if continues to grow in real-terms, that is often described as a a?cuta. There is a very real reason for this a it will almost always mean a real cut in actual service provision. In the case of the NHS, for example, health a?inflationa? in costs in usually expected to be about 5% higher than the rate of inflation for the economy as a whole. So to simply a?stand stilla in terms of services the NHS needs cash increases of inflation + 5% a year.
(4) Finally, there is public spending in relation to GDP a the rate of growth in the economy. In the long-term this gives the best picture of how much of our national resources are going into public spending, as a whole or specific areas. But it is subject to short-term fluctuations because as a ratio it can be affected by either changes to spending or changes to the economy. Between 1997 and 2007, for example, because the economy was growing steadily the spending as a percentage of GDP ratio was a good guide to changes in government spending policy. After 2007 it is less reliable because of the turbulent state of the economy, but it still tells you something a for example that between 2007 and 2010 the Labour government continued to spend the same amount even tho the economy went through a recession.