Monday, 1 November 2010

Twitterers react to the Spending Review

twitter1Since last Wednesday's spending review, the Internet have been buzzing with reaction and commentary.  Twitter has been no exception, providing great insight into how the Public feel about the cuts. Given their severity, it's perhaps unsurprising that the overall response has been far from positive.

Perhaps trying to keep their heads down, the Conservative's Official profile ( only referenced the cuts in a couple of Tweets. These highlighted the fact that the review wasn't their sole responsibility, being a collaborative effort via their "Spending Challenge" initiative and that it was a necessary measure due to a decade of debt built up by Labour.

The rest of the 'twittersphere'  weren't so quick to shift responsibility, but took a pragmatic view of the difficulties inherent in the review. commented that cuts would effect the availability of hospital beds, linking to a Telegraph article on the subject. The NHS budget may rise by £10 bn over the next four years (though factoring in inflation and considering they're expected to make £20bn in savings, this is hardly a rise in real terms), but council cuts will impair social services for the elderly, meaning their need for hospital beds could rise. The Big Society agenda states that the Third Sector will have a bigger involvement in health care, but as their funding through councils is reduced, can they realistically be expected to provide further help for the elderly, as well as other elements of Society where care is needed? If support for charities and social care departments dealing with problems such as mental health and alcoholism is reduced, there may be a higher uptake of hospital beds from there as well.

An article over at the Observer really resonated, with many Twitterers (,, and, to name but a few) linking to it. Written  by a Civil Servant, giving the view from within Whitehall, it's main thrust is a shared feeling in the corridors of power that an almost utopian efficiency will be needed throughout the Big Society in order to make the projected and needed savings in coming years. Few believe this will take place and the country will instead be facing massive job cuts throughout the Public Sector. If this is the belief of those actually working in government, one does start to doubt the sincerity of the whole Big Society agenda. Is it not so much us all taking our part in creating a better tomorrow, as sharing the blame for harsh times, when we can't live up to the Governments deliberately unrealistic benchmarks for efficiency?

Guardian Journalist, Patrick Butler ( posted links to various reaction pieces at his newspaper. A particularly interesting article gave doctors' views from a survey that the King's Fund health thinktank commissioned from to gauge feeling on the cuts and recent proposals for the NHS.

Part of the justification for decentralising decision making to GP consortia was that they know how best to deliver health services and where to spend money. Somewhat ironically, the survey reveals that only one in four doctors believe the Coalition Governments proposals will actually lead to a better standard of care. The general consensus is that asking the NHS to make £2bn of savings, while undertaking the largest reorganisation in it's history is a virtually impossible task. If that's their opinion and they know best, then shouldn't that have an impact on the Governments plans for reform?

These are just a few of many who've tweeted on the subject, offering a fascinating real-time perspective from a genuine cross section of the UK's population.  To see more, visit the search results page for "spending review" here.

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