Britain mulls furniture sale amid 100,000 ideas to cut debt

10th September 2010, Comments 0 comments

The British government said Friday it would try auctioning off old office furniture to save money as it implements the first of 100,000 suggestions from the public on how to slash the deficit.

A challenge issued two months ago for people to give their own proposals on how to cut the 154.7-billion-pound (188-billion-euro, 242-billion-dollar) debt appears to have unleashed Britons' inner Scrooge.

Suggestions range from making it easier to sack civil servants to printing in black and white, cutting back rubbish collection to once a fortnight and charging people one pound to listen to live music in parks.

"No one idea will solve the problems we face, but taken together they can make a real contribution to reducing the deficit and rebalancing the country's economy at a crucial time," said Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne.

One of the first ideas to be adopted seeks to improve the way government departments deal with surplus and second-hand equipment and furniture, and proposes the creation of an online auction site.

In addition, the government has adopted proposals to reduce the number of criminal record checks for young doctors and to issue social security numbers on letters rather than plastic cards.

"Over 100,000 suggestions have been put to us and now we're starting to put some of them into practice," Osborne said.

More than 60,000 of the suggestions come from public sector employees, and officials said they would all be individually considered.

However, Brian Strutton, national secretary of the GMB union, dismissed the initiative, saying: "Asking the public for ideas to save money is a political gimmick intended to give the impression of support for the cuts."

© 2010 AFP

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