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Economic Justice

Public Accounts Committee exposes waste caused by lack of early action

A report released today by the influential Public Accounts Committee (PAC) suggests that the Government is wasting billions of pounds by intervening too late in social problems.
The Early Action Task Force, whose Chair David Robinson submitted evidence to the Committee’s Inquiry, has welcomed the report, saying that it demonstrates “endemic failure in how Government works”.
New independent figures released today to coincide with the report support that analysis, showing that local government funding for preventative work dropped by 9.2% in cash terms in 2011/12. The figures, released by Head and Heart Economics and the Early Action Task Force show preventative spending dropped even as a proportion of total local authority spending, bearing the brunt of local government cuts.
The Task Force argues that in failing to address social problems through early action, the Government is essentially squandering public funds in dealing with those issues in the years ahead. David Robinson said:

“Government spends £400bn a year on key services but only a derisory proportion on crucial early action work which saves money, improves lives and supports growth. This short-sightedness is costing us dear – the taxpayer is shelling out for our failure to prevent.
“We strongly welcome the PAC’s report exposing this scandal and its call for the Treasury to take the lead in driving early action across government.
“This is not a one-off crisis but an endemic failure in how Government works. We expect the PAC’s recommendations to lead to a profound shift towards sustainable solutions and away from short term crisis management.”

Debbie Pippard, Head of Programmes at the Barrow Cadbury Trust, is a member of the Task Force. You can read her response to the Committee’s findings in this Civil Society Media article.