If you missed Paxman’s mince-meating of Clegg the other night, that I blogged on at the time, then here for added fun is the transcript…:
BBC Newsnight, Monday 15th September
JP Where are you going to save the £20bn?
NC Well, some of the savings we have already identified. For instance above average income families should not be part of the tax credit system, that would save around £3bn. We’ve said that the Child Trust Fund that gives a few hundred quid to 18 year olds is money not well spent when it is younger children that need help more. That would save about half a billion.
JP You’ve already committed that to be spent on more teachers haven’t you? That’s a previous commitment.
NC No, no, no, the £20bn, let me be quite clear about this, will go towards some of our spending priorities, towards the elderly, housing and teaching. What we’ve said today is that the money left over won’t simply be handed back to Whitehall, it will be handed back to lower and middle income families who have paid much more tax as part of their overall income than the wealthy.
JP We’ve so far checked £3.5bn of the £20bn you are going to save.
NC There are, there are, there are other items too. The road building programmes, that’s almost a billion. We are looking at some defence contracts which we think aren’t worthwhile. The Government wants to spend about £13bn on the NHS IT Project. I’ll be announcing on Wednesday other items.
JP You chose the figure of £20bn
JP So far we’ve been able to identify about £4.5bn, £5bn, £5.5bn on things you can save money on, where is the rest?
NC Well, I’m not able to tell you the rest, because, firstly if they were a good idea the other parties would nick it and secondly, because how spending is allocated by government and therefore how we think we can save, is something we can only decide on finally at the time of the next general election. What we are committing ourselves to as a party now is that £20bn, 3% of the total government expenditure of over £600bn will be identified, it will then be reallocated, redirected to our spending priorities, on the elderly, on the young, on housing and the remainder will be handed back in tax cuts to people who need a break at a time of real economic hardship.
JP Is it true you plan to save some of the £20bn by shutting down one government department?
NC Yes, we think that the former DTI government, DBERR as its acronym is called, is not doing a job that really justifies a whole department. That would save us about a billion pounds.
JP So that would be a billion pounds, and you’ve factored into that redundancy payments and the rest of it have you?
NC Errrrr, we would probably need to look at the figures in a little more detail when it comes to the next general election, when we know exactly what the payroll of DBERR is then, but the rough figure is about a billion.
JP And Vince Cable’s idea that all senior civil servants earning more than £100k a year should have to reapply for their jobs, how many civil servants is it please?
NC I don’t know. That of course is an illustration that Vince gave today about the extent to which large amounts of money are being spent to pay people very considerable amounts of money, and we don’t really know if that is money well spent.
JP We are still a long way off finding £20bn aren’t we?
NC Well, Jeremy, errrr, of course. I’m not going to present to you now on Newsnight a shopping list of what would be the £20bn.
JP Well why not? You’ve given us the headline grabbing figure of £20bn, why can’t you give us the proper details?