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Introducing a new economic comparator: Pudsey

Ministers say charities can step into the gap caused by cuts to services. So how many Children in Need appeals would it take to fill the gap?

Communicating the scale and size of the cuts is tough. Most people's eyes start to glaze over when you talk about anything with multiple zeros at the end. Even politicians sometimes mix up their millions with their billions.

So how do we communicate the size of particular cuts? One way might be to turn government policies back on them.

Ministers often say that charities can step into the gap caused by cuts to services. The BBC's Children in Need appeal raised £39 million in 2009. Let's assume that it will be £40 million this year.

Children in Need really captures public imagination. It involves hundreds of thousands, if not millions, in its fundraising activities for excellent causes. So why not use that to measure the scale of cuts?

1 Pudsey = £40 million

It may be hard to grasp the scale of the £162 million of cuts to school sports for example. But saying that's a cut four times bigger than the total raised by Children in Need makes clear it's pretty significant.

4 Pudseys

Or the £5 billion cut to the Future Jobs Fund that provided employment for unemployed young people – not quite children, but definitely in need – would require two Children in Need appeals every week to make up for the cut.

10 Pudseys
10 Pudseys
10 Pudseys
10 Pudseys
10 Pudseys
10 Pudseys
10 Pudseys
10 Pudseys
10 Pudseys
10 Pudseys
10 Pudseys
10 Pudseys

But we won't even attempt to illustrate the £60 billion growth sucked out of the economy by government cuts - that would require a mind-numbing 1,500 Pudseys.

Do you have an idea for a cuts comparator? Tell us in the comments below.

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