One of the oldest tricks in the book for a government that’s cutting public services is to say â€˜we’re not cutting, we’re spending more in our budget than ever before’ while not mentioning that their spending â€˜increase’ doesn’t match inflation and population growth.
We need to know what constitutes minimum increases to preserve current services:
Another classic trick to watch for is to close down one programme, start another that costs the same or less and call it new spending. The question with these spending changes is whether the new spending programme is better than the previous one.
This government, for instance, has decided it needs to prioritise elective surgery. In opposition they turned the number of electives the be all and end all of the health system’s performance (in fact it’s only a few percent of what it does). Now they want to show success by increasing the number of electives but they want to do it without more money for health. Solution: close down primary health care programmes and plough the money into electives. It’s a bit like skimping on fencing at the top of the cliff so you can afford a better ambulance.
Paula Bennett looks like she’s trying the same trick with funding for social services NGOs.
The message here is don’t take the government’s spin at face value. Ask is this ‘increase’ really an increase and is there a hidden cut?
– Marty G