INEFFICIENCY and waste. They are the factors all the major parties in the general election seem to agree on.

They are all going to save millions of pounds by tackling the problem.

Whether the party you support is blue, red, green, yellow, pink or foaming at the mouth, it’s a safe bet waste is high on their manifesto and they are promising to terminate it with extreme force.

With the country apparently £952billion in the red, it is probably needed.

However, another thing the parties have in common is they are not telling us exactly where these cuts will be.

In management speak, this is known as the mushroom principle – keep people in the dark and feed them err, you can guess the rest.

You don’t have to be David Dimbleby to work out why.

There are approximately six million people in the UK paid for by the taxpayer, and that is a lot of votes to lose.

It should also be pointed out not all of these six million work at Essex County Council – it just appears that way.

Union leaders, who strangely always seem to have Scouse or Scottish accents, have reacted with predictable dismay at the thought of such cuts.

While the private sector has seen a big rise in unemployment, the public sector has actually been recruiting more people in recent years, despite the recession. But still, “there’s nae room for cuts laa” (can you see what I did there!) Whatever sector it is though, one thing is certain about job losses. According to the management, they can be made with no effect whatsoever on services.

This can invariably be achieved by wielding the axe at “backroom staff and managers”, and we won’t notice the difference.

Of course, this immediately leads to the big question – why are these people employed in the first place, if their abscence will have no apparent effect on services?

It’s one of the mysteries of life, like MPs’ expenses, what happened to all those weapons of mass destruction, or why did Tendring Council spend £500,000 on new toilets in “posh” Frinton, but only £50,000 on a toilet in Dovercourt?

The “you won’t notice the difference argument” has been trotted out recently by NHS East of England, which is faced with budget cuts.

Essex County Council said the same of its proposals to get rid of 16.5 per cent of its 1,648 line managers, while Colchester Council said new working practices could lead to job losses in its benefits department. But, guess what, we will never notice the difference.

In this country, if it moves and you can't drive it yourself (planes, trains, tubes), it’s almost certainly considering strike action over people being “uninstalled” (management speak for job losses).

Unions claim such cost-cutting will lead to inevitable death and destruction all round, while the management counter that it won’t make a jot of difference.

Perhaps, though, the real problem is not how many people are employed, but how good they are at their jobs.

No one would moan about public sector pay and taxes if we were living in paradise, but we are closer to purgatory.

According to some recent books, the problem is not the amount of money we have, it’s the amount we waste.

Among widely publicised claims are the following: l The Department of Work and Pensions has wasted £300million on two cancelled IT projects l A £140million Child Support Agency system designed to streamline payment of benefits was shelved because it never worked.

l An IT system to clear the backlog of immigration casework, worth £77million, was shelved because it missed deadlines.

l The Pathway project, which promised to introduce a benefits payment card in 2000, was scrapped after four years at a cost of £1billion.

I could go on and on. If we are looking to cut waste, but keep jobs, there’s a good place to start.

I wonder how many of the people responsible for commissioning, implementing and supervising these shambolic projects lost their jobs? We can probably guess.

And then, of course, there are “consultants”.

Over the past five years Essex County Council increased its staff numbers, but its spending on consultants shot up.

Apparently, the Government, despite having more civil servants than ever before, now spends nearly £3billion a year on outside experts.

Judging by the figures, what is needed are a few “de-cruitment” experts to make the right cuts, so the good workers stay and the people who fail their employers – the taxpayer – are no longer rewarded for doing so.