16 May 2019

“We were taken on an exclusive tour where we learned about life behind the famous black door”

Upper Sixth Politics student, Javier D’Souza, writes about his attempts to slash the UK government budget as well as a tour behind the scenes at No.10

The Whitehall Spending Challenge is a programme run by the Civil Service which aims to give second year A-Level students a flavour of what life in the government is like.

Students are assigned roles including that of Chancellor and other government ministers and are tasked with reducing the budget whilst making concessions for spending in different areas.

Students from John Lyon teamed up with their peers from LAE Tottenham for this year’s spending challenge.

The two chancellors, myself and Bhuvraj Bhachu, assisted by real life members of the civil service, had to reduce government spending by £25bn, while government ministers tried to persuade us to fund their policy ideas.

The challenge certainly lived up to its name and both teams found it hard to reduce government spending and make drastic spending cuts; one team had to pull out all the stops when they were forced to decide whether to cut the Red Arrows or funding for Wind Turbines.

When it came to voting for a budget, it was a close call as we, the Chancellors, had produced a comprehensive and well thought budget that had met spending targets, whilst funding key policies.

As a treat, the civil servants organised for us to have a look round No.10 Downing Street. Led by an official aide to the Prime Minister, we were taken on an exclusive tour round the Cabinet Rooms and the Office of the Prime Minster where we learned about life behind the famous black door.

The day was a fantastic opportunity to learn more about the workings of government and the difficulties ministers face when running the country.

We would like to thank the civil servants who coordinated and organised the day, and to our Politics teachers Dr White and Dr Clews for giving us the privilege of taking part in this event.