The Coalition Government uses misinformation and distorted data to justify its policies. Mr Gove’s cavalier attitude towards evidence is regularly exposed on this site. However, it’s not just in education. Whether its education, public service pensions, the NHS or Localism, the Government is relying on spin to push through its reforms.
PUBLIC SERVICE PENSIONS
Public sector pensions are unaffordable, says the Government. But the cost of public service pensions has already peaked. Baby-boomers have retired and public service pension costs will fall by 2060 to 1.5% of GDP compared with 1.9% today. Hutton
says that “the public can’t be sure that schemes can remain sustainable” but underneath this statement is a graph which shows costs falling (page 23). Unfortunately, Hutton lumped all public sector pension schemes together even though they are set up differently. There are one million workers in the Local Government Pensions Scheme
(LGPS) which is not paid for by the taxpayer but is funded from investments. The question is: how far has the inclusion of LGPS in Hutton’s review of public sector pensions distorted the figures?
And the Teachers’ Pension Scheme - the last Government brokered a deal in 2007/8 to make teachers’ pensions affordable. Now the Coalition wants to tear up this agreement. No wonder teachers are angry. Teachers are already paid less than similarly-qualified people in other professions. How does the Government expect to recruit highly-qualified graduates and retain teachers if it reduces teachers’ conditions of service?
The Government was accused of hiding positive results of Ipsos Mori polls which showed high level of satisfaction with the NHS because this would have been embarrassing when it was unveiling its NHS reforms. The Government denied that this was a cover-up by saying the figures hadn’t been in the public domain since 2007 and then backtracked by saying the papers
were in the House of Commons Library all along. How members of the public were supposed to access this information, especially when they didn’t know it was there, is unclear.
This is what a Conservative Peer, Lord Newton of Braintree
had to say in a Lords debate on the Localism Bill:
“…I read the provisions as a mere layman, what is being said here is that local authorities can do anything they like, subject to some broad qualifications, and the Secretary of State can allow them to do anything they like if he likes what they want to do; but if he does not like what they want to do, he can do whatever he likes to stop them…”
When a Conservative Peer criticises the Government in such uncompromising terms, I think we all need to be very concerned.