Carry on spending

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 £2.3 billion increase in health, £2 billion at transport, and £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 £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.

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6 Comments

  1. Posted March 11, 2008 at 3:19 pm | Permalink

    I can think of no other sector where such a cavalier approach to budgeting would not have immediately resulted in the dismissal of the persons responsible. Leadership this is not. Just how wrong do they have to get the budgets before they say mea culpa ?

    From the outside it seems like any amount of incompetence is tolerated. Bearing in mind Darling will most likely ask us all to pick up the bill tomorrow (whilst no doubt blaming the banks, the world economy, global warming etc etc ad nauseum, everyone but his own profligacy) this is worrying.

  2. Matthew Reynolds
    Posted March 11, 2008 at 7:44 pm | Permalink

    Why not have a Growth Rule a la Eire to grow state spending by 1% less than average GDP expansion every year ? This could fund the CBI plan to slash corporate taxes to one 18% rate within 8 years like they did in Holland . This would restore our economic competitiveness by learning from abroad while forcing year on year cuts in QUANGO’s & welfare dependency . What a great pro- growth agenda !

  3. Matthew Reynolds
    Posted March 11, 2008 at 7:44 pm | Permalink

    Why not have a Growth Rule a la Eire to grow state spending by 1% less than average GDP expansion every year ? This could fund the CBI plan to slash corporate taxes to one 18% rate within 8 years like they did in Holland . This would restore our economic competitiveness by learning from abroad while forcing year on year cuts in QUANGO's & welfare dependency . What a great pro- growth agenda !

  4. mikestallard
    Posted March 11, 2008 at 8:07 pm | Permalink

    I am sure the EU has something to do with this.
    Their books are unchecked and there (is there here?) there is a lot of corruption. Remember Neil Kinnock's anti Corruption Commission? The books have not been signed off for over a decade. Also, you might care to read this if you get a moment: http://www.eursoc.com/news/fullstory.php/aid/2334
    This slapdash attitude spreads like a plague. Especially in Brussels where the Ministers take meals together and, no doubt, compare notes.
    Why be careful with money, especially if it is just taxes? "We are not half as corrupt as them etc, etc."
    A fish rots from the head down. As the Ministers travel to and fro from Brussels, they begin to be like their masters…..
    It is all a sign of slapdash accounting in both places.
    And notice the "clever" way this was "buried" the day before the budget. Gad what a fiendishly clever wheeze, Jeeves!

  5. Terry
    Posted March 11, 2008 at 10:26 pm | Permalink

    I'm an ex-Labour voter, one of many (I am sure) who feels let down by this government.
    Council Tax has more than doubled under Labour and I now dread the outcome of this year's budget which will surely add to the overall tax burden.
    The fact that there are so many overruns is worrying but hardly surprising when you consider the record of Gordon Brown's government.

  6. Deborah
    Posted March 11, 2008 at 10:28 pm | Permalink

    This sounds just like my District Council. Frightening.

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  • About John Redwood

    John Redwood has been the Member of Parliament for Wokingham since 1987. First attending Kent College, Canterbury, he graduated from Magdalen College, and has a DPhil from All Souls, Oxford. A businessman by background, he has been a director of NM Rothschild merchant bank and chairman of a quoted industrial PLC.
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