Friday, 28 May 2010

Money, money, money

THE grim reaper of economics is preparing to swing his scythe throughout the public sector. Libraries, A&E departments, capital projects, school buildings, and a whole lot more are being axed, or being put on the (very) long finger.

There seems to be a uniquely Northern Ireland approach to this whole financial mess. Like it or not, cuts will be made.

First off, we need to see if there is a sectarian element. If we can’t find one, then (a) one needs to be identified or (b) a common enemy needs to be found or (c) if all else fails, attacks are to be directed towards any given Minister of any party.

If options (a), (b), or (c) are not available then the default option is for those opposed to cuts to whinge and those who have to make the cuts to hunt the thesaurus for euphemisms.

The fact that NI plc has already signed up to hundreds of millions of efficiency savings (euphemism for cuts), bluntly means that the extra cuts will come as a shock to an already worried public sector workforce.

“No compulsory redundancies” – translated to mean we’ll not force you out just yet; also a synonym for ‘when someone leaves we’re not filling the post.’

“New services will have to be delayed for a time” – translated to mean ‘you are dreaming if you think we’re doing it this side of never.’

“We will be reviewing its function” – translated to mean ‘we’re closing it as soon as we think we can get away with it.’

“The cuts seem not be as bad as feared” – translated to mean ‘they’re actually a lot worse than feared!’

A trim here and a cut here won’t always be noticed by the story hungry media, but the danger in this ‘salami slice’ approach is that it stores up a well of discontent against the Assembly and it’s Executive. It leads to MLAs being perceived as weak-willed individuals hiding in sectarian bunkers, unable to take decisive action…or is that the perception most people have already?

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