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DfT signs up to 30% day-to-day cuts by 2020

The Department for Transport has agreed to slash day-to-day spending by 8% per year until the end of this Parliament, chancellor George Osborne is expected to announce today (9 November).

According to media reports, the DfT is one of the first ministries to agree to the steep cuts ahead of the Spending Review on 25 November, where Osborne will outline £20bn of savings.

The cutback – an overall average of nearly 30% of existing budgets over this Parliament – is in line with the government’s modelled savings announced in July, where he asked departments to look into scenarios of 25% and 40% reductions.

But the cuts will not affect protected capital spending, meaning large infrastructure projects and one-off investments will not be hampered by the savings target. Day-to-day operations, employment and localised transport funding will take the hit instead.

The department’s agreement with the government will also allow transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin to join Whitehall’s public expenditure committee, responsible for imposing cuts on remaining departments.

And for the chancellor, who will reveal the agreements during a speech in London today, the announcement should act as an incentive for departments that are still resisting planned cuts.

He is expected to say: “These savings will be achieved by a combination of further efficiencies in departments, closing low value programmes, and focusing on our priorities as a country.”

Osborne also insisted that investment in rail upgrades would not be affected.

But the RMT rail union criticised the department’s hasty move, with its general secretary, Mick Cash, saying: “With soaring passenger demand, it is ludicrous to be hammering down on transport budgets while services are already struggling to cope and are running right on the knife edge of public safety.”

(Top image: Patrick McLoughlin and David Cameron, Jan 2013 c. Stefan Wermuth/PA Wire)


Manchester Mike   09/11/2015 at 21:41

I expect that these DfT cuts will restrict the progress of much overdue rail system improvements. But look out for much increased road network spending in the next few months. Follow the money!

Jerry Alderson   10/11/2015 at 12:21

This funding announcement is about Opex not Capex, but we need some visibility on what is likely to be affected. Will there be more potholes on the road? Will loss-making bus services be axed? Will train hours be introduced or services thinned out? The rail industry needs to show how it can be more efficient. Few of the McNulty ideas have come to fruitition. Not even the recommendationsthat benefit passengers such as letting the train driver operate the doors (reducing the dwell times at stations [passengers no longer pressing the door button on a stationary train to find they do not work] and overall journey times, making the service more competitive and therefore better used) so that the customer service representative can focus their full attention on serving passengers (not walking off half way through a sale, with the customer's credit card in their hand, to open the doors).

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