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A Government that Worked Better and Cost Less?Evaluating Three Decades of Reform and Change in UK Central Government$
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Christopher Hood and Ruth Dixon

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780199687022

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199687022.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 09 March 2021

Did Government Cost Less?

Did Government Cost Less?

Running Costs and Paybill

(p.65) 4 Did Government Cost Less?
A Government that Worked Better and Cost Less?

Christopher Hood

Ruth Dixon

Oxford University Press

Chapter 4 assesses a key element often associated with New Public Management—its capacity to effect cost-cutting in government—by looking at what happened to reported running costs in UK civil departments and the paybill of the civil service over thirty years. The analysis shows that administration costs—so far as they can be reliably tracked—rose substantially in real terms over thirty years, while civil service pay costs remained relatively stable, falling slightly against UK average earnings. That means that the increase in running costs over the period cannot be explained by a rise in civil service paybill, but rather by increases in the outsourcing component of running costs. There were some times when running costs fell relative to total spending, if that is how ‘costs less’ should be construed—but past performance provides very limited inspiration for more recent plans to cut administration costs in absolute terms.

Keywords:   running costs, cost cutting, New Public Management, civil service paybill, outsourcing, administration costs

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