This morning's news gives us a very good example of the interdependency of public services and how cuts in one area simply displace costs onto another.
The UK Border Agency has withdrawn funding for officers working on illegal immigration at the Galloway ports. About two million people pass through the Galloway ports of Stranraer and Cairnryan each year, with two in every 100 passengers being police checked. They expect Dumfries and Galloway Police to pick up the cost. This is a force already facing massive cuts in police officers and staff.
No doubt the head of the Border Agency will report to his minister that he has met his cuts targets. Box ticked, job done. But locally it is anything but job done. The Chief Constable was on the radio this morning describing the advice he had been given that involved releasing illegal immigrants and telling them to attend an interview in Glasgow the following week. He expressed some scepticism that an illegal immigrant was going to attend such an appointment!
We can expect similar ploys across the public sector. Cuts in social care will block beds in acute hospitals. Cuts in energy efficiency measures will increase ill health with more visits to GPs. Shared support services will place additional administrative duties on front line staff. Robbing Peter to pay Paul, is now to be a national economic strategy.