While local government has had to cut spending far more than other bits of the public sector there has certainly not been any hypocrisy on this score from the Department of Communities and Local Government. The Annual Report and Accounts for the DCLG for 2011-12 show that in a single year staffing levels have fallen by 28.3%. Furthermore this includes quangos in the DCLG "family" – such as the Planning Inspectorate and the Homes and Community Agency. The total number of staff is down from 5,016 on March 31st 2011 to 3,597 on March 31st this year.
One great advantage of localism is that an army of bureaucrats collecting data and telling local councils what to do cease to be required.
The DCLG Minister Bob Neill tells John Redwood via a Written Answer in Parliament:
As part of the spending review settlement, the DCLG Group is making a collective 33% real terms saving against its running costs by 2014-15. This equates to savings of over £200 million by 2014-15. In addition, the Department will save a further £190 million from the closure of the Government Offices for the Regions, taking overall savings on administrative running costs to 42% across the DCLG Group by 2014-15.
These savings reflect the coalition Government's agenda of decentralisation, ending the micromanagement of local government, the abolition of regional government, and the broader need to tackle the deficit left by the last Administration.
As the Americans would say Eric Pickles and his team at the DCLG are "walking the walk" as well as "talking the talk" in terms of showing that cutting spending on a very substantial scale without cutting services of benefit to the public. That is not only an example to Town Halls but also to those cabinet colleague of Mr Pickles who are failing to achieve admin savings of the same scale. Thei annual reports should also be coming out any day.
Mr Redwood is watching them.