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I spend, therefore I am

Government in the UK has not been re-invented. Pamela Meadows, former chief economist at the employment department, says that the public sector still operates largely for its own benefit, beyond Treasury control

By Pamela Meadows   December 1996

Even after 17 years of Conservative government, the fundamental problem of public expenditure-its tendency to spiral out of control-has yet to be tackled.

The challenge of public expenditure control is often presented as analogous to that confronting every household or company in the land. A family must live within its available resources. Furthermore, it must balance competing demands: for rent, food, fuel, clothes, toys, cars, books, CDs, beer, holidays and so on. The Chancellor of the Exchequer is likened to a frugal and prudent housewife.

But the analogy is bogus in two respects. First, most households have some control over…

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