I’ve become known as the ‘Minister for Common Sense’, and it is a moniker I am happy to embrace as I think the public is crying out for more common-sense decisions across the public sector.
I am often frustrated at hearing how our fine public institutions are being hamstrung by unnecessary working practices, or using public money in wasteful ways.
It has to stop, and I am committed to putting an end to it, and I know this is an issue close to the heart of readers of the Mail.
For example, a London Hospital Trust thanked the Mail for highlighting their new IT system – costing taxpayers £450m – registering a new born baby’s ‘gender identity’, instead of their sex in error. This shocked me, and I have personally raised concerns about this with NHS England.
This issue has now been resolved, and the Department for Health and Social Care is keen to ensure similar errors do not occur in the future.
Esther McVey wants to ‘root out the waste and unnecessary bureaucracy that plagues too much of the public sector’
(Pictured: Prime Minister Rishi Sunak) Mc McVey believes one of the Government’s new year resolutions should be to ensure all parts of the public sector embrace common sense instead of political correctness
It shows just how at times our public service managers need to take more care when implementing public funds. Our taxes should be used on the very best equipment, not systems that have to be unnecessarily corrected as soon as they’re installed.
The recent story of councils paying the heating bills of their staff choosing to work from home is a perfect example of a bad decision which would be objected to by any taxpayer. And yet, it was allowed to happen.
It is something I hear often from my constituents, too.
They are sick of tightening their family’s finances when they see public purse strings getting looser and looser, with money too often seemingly wasted.
That’s why I’m beginning my own investigations, which will help root out the waste and unnecessary bureaucracy which plagues too much of our public sector.
This work will be guided by my three Rs. The first R is ‘representation’ – making Government and our public institutions more representative of the public they serve.
One of my first visits in post was to Scotland to encourage more people from outside London to apply for public appointments. Right now, our museums, our prisons, our hospitals have been run by the same type of person.
Ms McVey wants to ‘unshackle these dedicated workers, giving them more time to do what they do best and not to feel the need to constantly cover their backs’
(Pictures: The Scottish Parliament in Holyrood) Ms McVey has already visited Scotland to encourage more people from outside London to apply for top jobs
But I believe we need diversity in these roles – and by that, I don’t just mean the usual ethnic and gender diversity, but diversity of background, geography and most importantly in thought and belief. Groupthink must be avoided at all costs.
I’m looking carefully at the thousands of pounds government is spending on external ‘equality, diversity and inclusion’ consultants.
To me the common-sense thing would be one set of guidance for the whole civil service for everyone to follow. Let’s practise diversity and inclusion, not waste thousands of taxpayer pounds preaching it.
The second R is ‘responsive’ – how our public services respond to the real needs of taxpayers and their customers.
I know that our public services are full of hardworking people who want to offer our citizens a helping hand.
But instead, there’s far too much hand-wringing, where trained professionals are worrying ‘how’ they do their job, instead of just doing it, and petrified they will be left hanging out to dry if they make an honest mistake.
I want to unshackle these dedicated workers, giving them more time to do their job than to question it, and them not having to feel the need to constantly cover their backs in case a mistake is made.
The final R is ‘Reassurance’ – giving the public peace of mind that we are spending their hard earned money wisely. We are already making great progress on this.
We recently passed a law to bring more competition and innovation to public contracts, and we have already saved taxpayers over £300m through our Public Sector Fraud Authority, launched by the Prime Minister when he was Chancellor in March 2022 – more money which could be spent on schools, the health service, policing and so on.
Ms McVey says she will ‘unshackle’ hardworking officials by stopping them worrying about how they are doing their jobs
One of Ms McVey’s ministerial responsibilities is supporting the public bodies reform programme, which could lead to a ‘bonfire of the quangos’ if it finds there is duplication or work that is no longer necessary
This Government and Prime Minister has shown time and again that we’re not afraid to challenge the consensus to reduce waste and save money – and now we have succeeded in halving inflation, our priority is to control spending so that we can cut taxes.
We don’t want you to see a single penny of your hard-earned cash wasted on unnecessary public spending.
We cancelled the second leg of HS2 to boost funding for transport where it matters most – across the north helping all communities rather than spending untold billions on a new line to London for a small part of the north.
We embraced Brexit because of its unique benefits and freedoms which we see in our new trade deals and international partnerships.
We continue to find new deterrents for illegal migration, and we are adhering to our Net Zero responsibilities in a much more pragmatic way without putting untold costs on businesses and households.
We are focused on getting more people back into work because we believe that everyone in the UK should have the opportunity to fulfil their potential.
As we approach 2024, I believe one of the Government’s new year resolutions should be to ensure all parts of the public sector embrace common sense instead of political correctness.
The public wants change. They want the government focused on delivering on their priorities. That is what this Prime Minister has done in 2023 and that’s what we’ll be doing with renewed energy and drive next year.
In my new role I will do all I can to help the Prime Minister deliver this vital change to benefit public sector workers and taxpayers alike.