Labour to weed out private consultants

Party leadership makes commitment to undertake multiple reviews of public spending in efficiency drive

Manchester

Labour is to begin the fight to rebuild its economic credibility with a radical reform of public-sector spending, including axing wasteful expenditure on private consultants and a shake-up in the way social care is funded, one of the party's rising stars told The Independent on Sunday today.

Rachel Reeves, the Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury, announced four reviews into public-sector efficiency, to begin immediately, and which will aim to save the state hundreds of millions of pounds a year if Labour takes office in 2015.

Ms Reeves will take control of the public-sector belt-tightening in a move that will see the Labour Party return to the days of prudence championed by Gordon Brown as Chancellor in 1997. Labour refused to say whether it will stick to coalition spending plans at the next election, but the efficiency proposals are an acknowledgement that Ed Miliband, Ed Balls and the Shadow Cabinet need to introduce more economic rigour into their policies.

Mr Miliband arrived in Manchester yesterday for his party's annual conference. Despite leading the Tories by double figures in the polls, his personal ratings are struggling as voters question his use of jargon such as "predistribution". At a question and answer session with members of the public, Mr Miliband did not help his image by admitting he was "sufficiently geekish" to have read the notes on the NHS Bill.

Mr Miliband's brother, David, will today offer support to the man who beat him to the leadership by saying: "Ed has challenged us to reinvent our politics as well as rethink our policies. He is right." But in the speech to the Movement for Change, a community organisers network, he called for a third runway at Heathrow – which the Labour leader is against. The former foreign secretary added: "De Gaulle said war is too important to be left to generals. By the same token, politics is too important to be left to politicians. That is the route to its salvation."

In her interview with this paper, Ms Reeves said Labour could not work with Nick Clegg in a hung parliament in 2015, but did not rule out doing a deal with Vince Cable.

One review ordered by Ms Reeves will look at the possibility of "shared budgets" between the NHS and local authorities, which would allow elderly people to be looked after at home rather than sent to hospital unnecessarily. At the moment, social care is funded by heavily reduced council budgets, meaning that the elderly are often kept in hospital wards, even when they could be cared for at home, with the NHS forced to meet the cost. The practice leaves hundreds of wards "bed-blocked" and puts additional strain on the NHS. The "shared budget" plan would mean councils could use NHS funding to pay for social care at home.

The idea was floated in a report by the Health Select Committee, chaired by the former health secretary Stephen Dorrell, earlier this year.

A second review will examine how a Labour government would end the reliance on private-sector consultants, currently costing the state around £1bn a year. It would prevent firms such as G4S, embroiled in the Olympic security scandal, from being paid consultancy fees. There will be two more reviews on public-sector spending, on procurement and information technology.

Ms Reeves said: "As well as cuts and tax increases, it's also important that we get value for money for every pound of taxpayers' money spent."

On the shared budgets idea, the MP for Leeds West said: "It is crazy to spend all this money on keeping old people in hospital when it would be much better for them, and better value for the taxpayer, if they got better treatment in their homes.

"The Government is just putting a knife to local services without looking at first principles about what it wants to achieve, what services people need, and value for money.

"The example of adult social care shows you can end up costing more by cutting. Cutting grants to local authorities looks easy but, actually, if it means that more people end up in hospital, it will cost more."

She said contracts to companies such as G4S would be part of the review on consultancies. "It's about getting good value, but also not wasting money on ridiculous contracts when it's better to do things in-house, when you get better service, and better value for money, when you've got a pretty huge Civil Service who are immensely well-qualified.

"Although G4S is paying for the cost of the Army and the police, because it couldn't do the job, it is still getting the management fee, so it's a huge waste."

Ms Reeves refused to say how much could be saved under the reviews, but a conservative estimate would put it in the hundreds of millions. They will be conducted by Alexis Cleveland, former director-general for Transformational Government at the Cabinet Office, Baroness Jeannie Drake, former deputy general secretary of the CWU, and Margaret Exley, a former Treasury senior civil servant.

Veteran MP Malcolm Wicks dies of cancer, aged 65

Ed Miliband last night led tributes to former energy minister Malcolm Wicks, who has died aged 65.

Mr Wicks, MP for Croydon North, had been suffering from cancer. Mr Miliband said the MP was a "thoroughly decent, intelligent and compassionate man" whose death would leave a "huge hole" in the Labour Party.

Mr Wicks, who was diagnosed with cancer last October, represented Croydon for two decades and was a minister under Tony Blair and Gordon Brown. He leaves behind his wife of 44 years, Margaret, a son and two daughters. After stepping down from government in 2008, he represented Mr Brown on international energy issues. Mr Wicks increased his majority in 2010 to nearly 16,500.

Mr Miliband added: "He was a brilliant energy minister, he was a deep thinker about welfare and pensions, and Labour to his core. The way he handled his illness tells you everything about the man. He showed huge dignity and kept on thinking, writing and advising right to the end. "I have lost a wise confidant and most importantly a dear friend and the Labour Party has lost one of its sharpest thinkers."

Jane Merrick

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Voices
Lucerne’s Hotel Château Gütsch, one of the lots in our Homeless Veterans appeal charity auction
charity appeal
Arts and Entertainment
Tony Hughes (James Nesbitt) after his son Olly disappeared on a family holiday in France
tv
Arts and Entertainment
The Apprentice candidates Roisin Hogan, Solomon Akhtar, Mark Wright, Bianca Miller, Daniel Lassman
tvReview: But which contestants got the boot?
Arts and Entertainment
Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels ride again in Dumb and Dumber To
filmReview: Dumb And Dumber To was a really stupid idea
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
News
people

Jo from Northern Ireland was less than impressed by Russell Brand's attempt to stage a publicity stunt

Sport
Scunthorpe goalkeeper Sam Slocombe (left) is congratulated by winning penalty taker Miguel Llera (right)
football
Life and Style
A woman walks by a pandal art installation entitled 'Mars Mission' with the figure of an astronaut during the Durga Puja festival in Calcutta, India
techHow we’ll investigate the existence of, and maybe move in with, our alien neighbours
Arts and Entertainment
Sir Ian McKellen tempts the Cookie Monster
tvSir Ian McKellen joins the Cookie Monster for a lesson on temptation
News
i100
Travel
Tourists bask in the sun beneath the skyscrapers of Dubai
travelBritish embassy uses social media campaign to issue travel advice for festive holiday-makers in UAE
Arts and Entertainment
Jennifer Saunders stars as Miss Windsor, Dennis's hysterical French teacher
filmJennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress
Life and Style
tech
Sport
Nabil Bentaleb (centre) celebrates putting Tottenham ahead
footballTottenham 4 Newcastle 0: Spurs fans dreaming of Wembley final after dominant win
Voices
Jimmy Mubenga died after being restrained on an aircraft by G4S escorts
voicesJonathan Cox: Tragedy of Jimmy Mubenga highlights lack of dignity shown to migrants
Life and Style
Sebastian Siemiatkowski is the 33-year-old co-founder and CEO of Klarna, which provides a simple way for people to buy things online
tech
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Helpdesk Analyst

£25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established media firm based in Surrey is ...

Ashdown Group: Java Developer - Hertfordshire - £47,000 + bonus + benefits

£40000 - £470000 per annum + bonus: Ashdown Group: Java Developer / J2EE Devel...

Ashdown Group: Head of Finance - Financial Director - London - £70,000

£70000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Head of Finance - Financial Controller - Fina...

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Executive - Nationwide - OTE £65,000

£30000 - £65000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This small technology business ...

Day In a Page

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas
La Famille Bélier is being touted as this year's Amelie - so why are many in the deaf community outraged by it?

Deaf community outraged by La Famille Bélier

The new film tells the story of a deaf-mute farming family and is being touted as this year's Amelie
10 best high-end laptops

10 best high-end laptops

From lightweight and zippy devices to gaming beasts, we test the latest in top-spec portable computers
Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

The batsman has grown disillusioned after England’s Ashes debacle and allegations linking him to the Pietersen affair
Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

The Williams driver has had plenty of doubters, but hopes she will be judged by her ability in the cockpit
Adam Gemili interview: 'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

After a year touched by tragedy, Adam Gemili wants to become the sixth Briton to run a sub-10sec 100m
Calls for a military mental health 'quality mark'

Homeless Veterans campaign

Expert calls for military mental health 'quality mark'
Racton Man: Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman

Meet Racton Man

Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman
Garden Bridge: St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters

Garden Bridge

St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters
Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament: An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel

Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament

An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel
Joint Enterprise: The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice

Joint Enterprise

The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice
Freud and Eros: Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum: Objects of Desire

Freud and Eros

Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum