Yesterday the government rushed through a whole series of supplementary estimates before the budget. MPs were given a bumper book of spending overruns to try and get to grips with. There was a Â£2.3 billion increase in health, Â£2 billion at transport, and Â£5.7 billion at Work and Pensions. What was more surprising was some of the percentage overruns in the smaller quangos. The independent regulator of NHS trusts put in for an extra 10%, and the department for national statistics an extra 7.5%.
I am sure some of the money is being well spent and is necessary, but the cumulative impact of all these overruns shows a government unable to keep control of spending and stick to its plans. Worse still, the estimates did contain Northern Rock, but had absolutely no figures in them for the costs and losses, and included Â£150 million for sorting out the mess on the tube.
If this government is going to handle our economy well during this credit crisis, it needs to start doing detailed work on its budgets, and ministers need to take an interest in keeping spending within the agreed totals.