Editorial: Time to bite the bullet

Living beyond our means; challenges for charity; the new MT book; 35u35 nominations wanted.

by Matthew Gwyther, mt editor
Last Updated: 09 Oct 2013

I have to admit that when I first read Andrew Wileman's step-by-step guide to cutting back the public sector, I was a bit nervous. MT is not good at acting callous. However righteous the act required, those who wish to set about the public sector with a will and an axe need to accept that removing a substantial amount of cash from a faltering economy might cause widespread damage. Anaemia doesn't respond well to the blood bag and cannula being suddenly yanked out. Deep and widespread cuts are going to cause misery: both to those who rely on state-provided services and those who deliver them. After all, civil servants are people with families to support and mortgages to pay. And there are now many parts of the UK where a job on the state is virtually the only kind of employment going.

My reservations diminished when I read the employment figures for the last quarter of 2009. These showed that public sector employment was still rising - up by 7,000 to 6.1 million - while private sector employment tumbled 61,000. At the same time, the numbers working in the NHS are at a 60-year high. Anyone who thinks this can continue is crazy. As a nation, we live beyond our means. If we don't get realistic, we are all going to join the Greeks in the poorhouse, with nobody to provide the evening bowl of taramasalata. No - the cuts must happen and they are going to hurt a lot.

The third sector will feel the effects of the Treasury's scalpel as well. Just under 40% of UK charity funding comes from 'statutory' sources - ie, central or local government. This means that Jasmine Whitbread, head of Save the Children UK and our profile subject, has a tough few years ahead, despite the fact that overseas aid is seen as sacrosanct and protected from the knife - and that we have unacceptable numbers of kids living in poverty in the UK.

Enough gloom. Three things on a brighter note. To kick off, MT's first book, The Management Masterclass, is out this month (see outrageous promotional spread on pp28-29). It could become a dog-eared bedside classic. Second, we're now researching our 10th anniversary '35 Women Under 35' list. Any worthy candidates should be reported to emma.devita@haymarket.com by 19 April. Finally, marking our relationship with HR magazine, we have a new rear end, dedicated to companies' 'greatest assets': see our reworked MT People section (from p65 on).

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