Controlling public spending?

 

               Yesterday Parliament debated the  local government settlement for next year. Most of the discussion was about cuts.  Labour argued that the amount of Exchequer finance for local government was not enough, but declined to suggest how much more should be awarded or where the money might come from.

          No-one seemed interested in debating the numbers. Indeed, few MPs wanted to debate it at all. I pointed out that the government proposes £72,000,000,000 of taxpayer support for local government next year, about the same amount as they gave this year. That is around £1200 for every man, woman and child in the UK. It is around £1400 for every man woman and child in England, as these spending figures were just for England.

                The support for schools was up, as promised. There was a substantial increase in grants for environmental and housing purposes. Not even the Minister wanted to talk about the increases, as everyone was well versed in the real cuts analysis which dominates discussion of these matters.

                 I thought it was a disappointing day for the Commons. Surely the spending of £72,000,000,000 is an important issue? Surely more MPs have something to contribute to how this money should be spent, and  what Councils do with it? Surely more could identify areas of Council spending that we could do wtihout, or we could do more effectively? There were a few genuflections to spending better, but no examples, exhortations or requirements to do so.  I would be interested to hear from readers about whether you think the central government is spending too much or too little on local government, from your observations of local spending patterns.

                          Maybe MPs were nursing their own pay cut. Yersterday was also the day when IPSA announced that next year would see no pay rise, coupled with a 1.85% increase in pension contributions for MPs.  This will take the MP’s contribution rate to 13.75%. I know this will warm some of you, though doubtless you feel it should go up by more.

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146 Comments

  1. Julian
    Posted February 9, 2012 at 7:02 am | Permalink

    The underlying, and undiscussed issue, is the blurring between councils acting as true local government and acting as branch offices for national government. There is a need for both functions but they are not the same. It would be helpful if the distinction could be made, at least financially. We could then see what we are getting and paying for (and voting for) locally. Any branch office functions would be paid for centrally according to national formulas, voted by parliament.

    • Acorn
      Posted February 9, 2012 at 6:47 pm | Permalink

      Julian, agreed. You can see local government spending in PESA 2011, Chapter 7 tables.
      http://www.hm-treasury.gov.uk/d/pesa2011_chapter7.xlsx

      Notice the Pay in table 7.8. Local government spends a quarter of all government spending, always has as long as I can remember 173 billion in this report.

      The structure of English local government is a total mess. The government wants to keep it that way. They are frightened that if the structure was “unified” like Scotland; Wales or NI; we might understand it and start demanding things like an English Parliament.

  2. norman
    Posted February 9, 2012 at 7:08 am | Permalink

    Does that mean you contribute 13.75% to your pension and the rest of us the remaining 86.5% or 13.75% of your pay is taken at source? I’d be interested to know how much of the final pension pot is contributed by to MPs. Realise MPs get a lot of unnecessary stick but that’s what happens when you’re top of the heap and I’m sure every MP knows and accepts that.

    As someone who contributes 100% of his pension pot I find I have very little sympathy when I read about teachers (for example, not wanting to say they are the only, or indeed worst, culprits) threatening to go on strike when asked to raise their contribution from 5% of the total to 7%.

    And I know the answer from the public sector workers is ‘Then you should find a job with better pension provision if that matters to you’ but the fact of the matter is that there are no jobs like this outside the public sector and if we all work in the public sector the wheels would fall off even faster than they already are.

    I don’t mean to come across as bitter, if I was in the position to have my retirement subsidised to the tune of 85%+ from the labour of other people I’d jump at it and defend to the hilt my right to receive it too. Who wouldn’t want such a remarkable deal, unparallaled in such numbers in the course of human history?

    As for the £72 billion, who cares? MPs, on the whole, obviously don’t and the implication is nor should the rest of us. We’ve become so blase about such incomprehensible sums the BoE can run that off in an afternoon and no one will blink. Indeed it will be hailed as a necessary piece of financial wizardry.

    No doubt £75bn more will be approved at the next meeting, more than enough to cover it.

    Reply: Yes, MPs are being asked to contribute 13.75% of salary to their collective pension pot.

    • lifelogic
      Posted February 9, 2012 at 12:32 pm | Permalink

      Roughly they contribute about £9,000 PA personal funds for a benefit of an increasing pension (1/40 of salary pa) which would cost roughly £50,000 to fund privately. The tax payer picks up the rest of the bill the £41,000.

      • lifelogic
        Posted February 9, 2012 at 5:36 pm | Permalink

        Meanwhile if you put you own money say £50K in PA for say 30 years you have a pension cap of 1.8M with tax to pay when you exceed it (55% recovery) and you pay tax on the dividends due to Brown mugging tax perhaps as much as £400,000 or so over the life time of the scheme. You also have the cost of the scheme or government supervision of it (or lack of, Equitable Life!) and the risk that the managers will invest it all in government supervised RBS or Halifax or similar.

        On top of this is the absurd Libdem plan to stop higher contributions relief too.

        It is not hard to see the better deal.

        • lifelogic
          Posted February 9, 2012 at 6:08 pm | Permalink

          The Libdem proposal would really mean it was not worth saving for a private pension if it took you into 40% tax rates.

        • JimF
          Posted February 9, 2012 at 6:18 pm | Permalink

          So 13.75% of an MPs salary buys an index linked pension over 30 years of 75% of an MPs’ salary, around £60K p.a.? You’d need a pot of about £2m in a money purchase scheme for that which, as you say, breaches revenue limits. Nice one.

          reply: MPs are not allowed to get to 75%

    • APL
      Posted February 9, 2012 at 4:03 pm | Permalink

      JR: “Yes, MPs are being asked to contribute 13.75% of salary to their collective pension pot.”

      Six years ago, my company pension adviser informed me that I should increase my contribution to a minimum of 16%. That was in addition to a company contribution of 7%.

  3. lifelogic
    Posted February 9, 2012 at 7:43 am | Permalink

    Clearly local councils have far too much money and staff, we see in Conservative controlled Torbay that they just go round valuing their trees and setting up pointless web sites. In other areas they are moving to licence all landlords, encouraged by the BBC needless to say. Doubtless they see it as another source of income like parking controls and a way of pushing up landlords overheads and thus rents up and making fewer units available. Planning and building control are inefficient slow and over priced.

    Vast sums are spent blocking the roads and painting political messages on them about parking, bikes and buses and pushing absurd propaganda magazines through your doors. All seem to the run for the convenience and income of local government staff. I do not remember in the whole of my life using much useful provided by the council apart from rubbish collection, roads, a few buses, a rat catcher once, some victim of crime leaflet and pointless council propaganda magazines and the dump.

    The police often seem to be directing their efforts mainly in the wrong places and perhaps more profitable areas. The are more like an extension of social services (continued by Clark) with their absurd “victims of crime leaflets” and little actual real crime investigation unless it is a “high profile” fashionable hate crime or something.

    Yet still, when they clearly should act, as in Baby P and the many others dreadful cases, they are hugely incompetent on a massive scale as we have seen again and again and again.

    It is a natural inclination of staff to do what they like and not what actually needs doing. In the local councils we see this everywhere they do anything at all. No proper control from the top and all are over paid and pensioned to boot.

    • Disaffected
      Posted February 9, 2012 at 2:09 pm | Permalink

      How many public inquiries have we had to protect children? Victoria Climbe, Baby P and still incompetent poor services with overpaid Director of Services. Come on, Mr Pickles what are you doing?????

      • lifelogic
        Posted February 9, 2012 at 6:53 pm | Permalink

        Indeed and when you read the inquiry reports it is very clear that the incidents were totally preventable by anyone even half doing their jobs properly.

  4. Richard1
    Posted February 9, 2012 at 8:08 am | Permalink

    I would be interested to see a summary from you on the number of employees and the amount of money going into quangos, if you have time & can get the info. It seems very little progress is being made in this area. We read that Vince Cable is going to appoint a left-wing academic as some kind of ‘tsar’ to social engineer university entrance. Why not just abolish the position? Backbench Conservatives should insist on the closure of these useless – and in many cases damaging – bodies, with the employees being made redundant (not re-deployed) and encouraged to find useful and productive work in the private sector.

    • lifelogic
      Posted February 9, 2012 at 11:38 am | Permalink

      “to social engineer university entrance” you say.

      Personally I cannot see why anyone should not go to Oxford, Cambridge or any other place of education providing they can pay the fees and cope. The dim ones can always find a suitable course like divinity or something. After all why ration the places if there is demand that is prepared to pay.

      True they are rather dangerously lefty places in general and Oxford PPE should perhaps be closed down for the health of, whatever is left of our democracy. I tend to thing that people expecting other to pay for their education should only get loan funding if they do something useful and are likely to repay. Something that leads to useful paid work. Preferably not the law or in the state sector.

      reply: Oxford and Cambridge do not wish to take any paying guest. They like all decent universities have minimum educational attainment requirements for entry. When they offer places to overseas students they are selling excellence, so they need to keep up the standards.

      • lifelogic
        Posted February 9, 2012 at 7:17 pm | Permalink

        To reply:

        True the top universities need to keep up the quality of their “Brand Image” but there was no shortage of dim students (some with just two A level E’s) at Cambridge in eighties as I recall. I imagine Oxford was worse still it usually is. I am sure BMW, Patek Phillipe, Moet or a Brand specialist can advise them on how to go down market without trashing their images/brands too much.

        Perhaps they need a Cambridge/Oxford “B” course for the others who have money to burn and like the posh wine label of an “Oxbridge Degree”. After all it is an education business is it not?

        It is rather worrying that people with the same grades from state schools seemed to do worse in entry at Oxford than those from private schools – as was reported. Surely someone with 3A*s from XYZ Comprehensive probably has rather more potential than someone with the same grades from Eton even if they do not have the Cameron polish. I certainly found that when employing them.

        I had got the impression that, at least in science at Cambridge, they realised this and made sensible allowances.

        reply: I do not recall people with 2 Es getting in, though I do remember being set the task of 2 Es minimum to get a grant once I had secured a place by competitive entrance exam.

        • Mark
          Posted February 9, 2012 at 11:30 pm | Permalink

          I have a friend who is a Cambridge professor. He finds that 3 A* grades are no predictor at all of the necessary ability to pursue his course. A levels are now far too dumbed down to act as entrance filters for top universities.

          • lifelogic
            Posted February 10, 2012 at 5:19 pm | Permalink

            I agree on this most of the exams are memory & regurgitation rather than forcing people to think for themselves and do not distinguish at the top levels. Some exams even demand green, right on, PC answers that are simply wrong in scientific terms.

        • lifelogic
          Posted February 10, 2012 at 3:36 am | Permalink

          True the 2Es had taken the entrance exam too. But I cannot see that they should be rationing education too much where people can afford to pay. It makes no more sense that than rationing say books or the theatre. Anyway the marginal cost of taking more students is very low so it is rather profitable and most of the rest of UK industry will pushed out of the UK by Huhne’s absurd “green” energy arrangements soon so we will need something left.

          Reply: The fact that we only had to achieve two Es does not mean that was all we did achieve.

          • lifelogic
            Posted February 10, 2012 at 5:20 pm | Permalink

            No but the ones I knew did only get 2 E’s!

          • lifelogic
            Posted February 10, 2012 at 5:22 pm | Permalink

            And no they were not all royalty or similar but it was thirty years ago.

  5. Posted February 9, 2012 at 8:32 am | Permalink

    “Surely the spending of £72,000,000,000 is an important issue?”

    No, not really Mr Redwood. MPs have now mostly twigged what much of the general public has been aware of for some time. Our currency has been made worthless, politicians have spent too freely and added so many noughts that billions and trillions might as well be one and the same. Soon the spending of £72,000,000,000,000 will be of similarly little interest.

    The twitter yesterday on the 100 loaves of bread at £1 being QE’d to £2 summed it up nicely.

    I think you know this. But what think you of your leader in Sweden today, planning targets for women in Boardrooms, he continues thus thanks to your continuing presence upon his increasingly empty backbeches.

    • Timaction
      Posted February 9, 2012 at 2:59 pm | Permalink

      A few points:
      1. You haven’t mentioned whether this £72 billion covers the costs of schools as well as Councils.
      2. Councils are ripe for serious reform. I retired from the Police Service and worked for a local Council for a year. I was absolutely amazed at the lack of supervision and leadership. How little work many people actually did. The work “from home” when washing/ironing other domestic chores and sports/soaps catchup were completed between a non job task! There are huge numbers of people working at a snails pace doing several jobs where one would have sufficed. Leyland Motors of the 70’s sprang to mind. There are not only divisions and departments but tiers of unnecessary managers on vast salaries who pass decisions up the foodchain, delay, pontificate, consult, meet, further delay and consult and eventually something is done, but not always. There are Chief Executives on £200K salaries who have no risks, large number of executives on huge salaries. Not in my case but in Somerset ther are 5 local authorities and an overlapping County Council all with the same Management structure and backroom staff doing the ………..same……..yes, same work!! So is there room for reform, yes loads, stop talking and get on with it Mr Pickles!!
      3. MP’s pensions. Up to 13.5% contributions. The Police Service is now 14% from 11% Mr Redwood. It did accrue 1/60th of pensionable pay for each year of service up until 20 years and 2/60ths thereafter up to 30 years to make a pension maximum of 40/60ths. Now much longer (40 years) and lower accruals. I believe the accrual rate for MP’s is far higher Mr Redwood, why? When is that being reformed? Police officer pay is being cut by about £4-5K for frontline officers over the next 2-3 years. Why are MP’s salaries just being frozen? Why do we need 600 MP’s when we have so many other tiers of Governance, 70% of our laws are passed by the EU! I’d have thought 200 at most. Expenses are still not properly reformed and housing costs are still included. Why? Most workers could only dream about
      4. That said, many MP’s do have care about the public and national interest (present company included) but it is not reflected on our television screens when we see many debates. Do you think this may refect the dropping standards we have come to expect and it is just reflected with our MP’s as well?

      • Timaction
        Posted February 9, 2012 at 7:01 pm | Permalink

        I meant, present company excluded!!

  6. Caterpillar
    Posted February 9, 2012 at 8:32 am | Permalink

    Yes, it is remarkable that MPs can criticise Mr Hester for undertaking a tough job constrained by new banking regulations, but are unable to contribute themselves to sorting out the UK’s economic mess. It may be only a miniscule contribution but perhaps cutting from 650 to 600 MPs isn’t going far enough fast enough.

    “Surely more MPs have something to contribute … Surely … spending that we could do wtihout.”

    Anyway my usual local/national suggestion is to link public sector pay (or public sector pay income tax rates) to the deficit. Govt in surplus then lower rates for public sector, greater than 3% deficit then higher income tax rates for public sector workers, between -3% an 0% deficit then standard income tax rates for public sector workers.

    • Bickers
      Posted February 9, 2012 at 12:43 pm | Permalink

      Why do we need a Parliament costing vast millions when most of the decisions are made by Brussels (which we also pay for).

      Tax payers are funding layer upon layer of government which adds little value to our daily lives. The State & EU need substantially reducing (in fact if we were’nt members of the EU our country would flourish)

      • lifelogic
        Posted February 9, 2012 at 7:44 pm | Permalink

        “Why do we need a Parliament costing vast millions when most of the decisions are made by Brussels?” – in order to get us out of this non democratic EU mess and restore Parliamentary democracy at some point.

        • BobE
          Posted February 10, 2012 at 12:22 am | Permalink

          If this continues we can discard both the parliment and the Lords. As the palace of westminster decays so should the non existant leadership. We will only need regional councils to excersise EU decisions.
          BobE

    • Brian
      Posted February 9, 2012 at 2:03 pm | Permalink

      Yes-agreed and my pet scheme is to levy a windfall tax on public service jobs to put pressure on the headcount.

      The rate could be varied to differentiate between eg soldiers and local council administrators.

  7. lojolondon
    Posted February 9, 2012 at 8:32 am | Permalink

    John, this is a reminder for me of our tax rate in the UK.

    For someone who works as a professional in London, we know they pay 38% tax on most of their salary, but to that, if we want to be honest with ourselves, we should add 10% NI, probably plus the 12% NI that the company incuurrs on our salary without us ever seeing it. Add the 20% VAT that we pay on 90% of the things we purchase, and the average man is on a tax rate of 80%, a lot of that is tax on tax and that doesn’t even begin to speak about petrol and beer, where vat and duties and taxes comes close to 80% again.

    This article reminds me that we pay ‘local’ tax too.

    We are surely the most taxed nation in the world, and this is standing between us and economic recovery??

    • Bazman
      Posted February 9, 2012 at 11:59 am | Permalink

      We are not the most taxed nation in the world or even Europe by a long way. If you would like to go and live in some East European or Arab country then you could save a lot of tax. If however you would like to live in Western Europe or Australia and enjoy a high standards in general then you will have to pay more.
      Living in London is expensive for sure, but you could always get on your bike..

    • nicol sinclair
      Posted February 9, 2012 at 1:58 pm | Permalink

      “We are surely the most taxed nation in the world, and this is standing between us and economic recovery??”

      No response from JR speaks volumes – to me!

    • uanime5
      Posted February 9, 2012 at 4:54 pm | Permalink

      Your maths is deeply flawed.

      1) The tax bands are 20%, 40%, and 50%; while NI is 12% or 2%. So it’s impossible to pay 38% of you salary in taxes. Did you mean 32% (20% tax rate and 12% NI)?

      2) NI has already been included so it doesn’t need to be added again. So the amount of tax paid is still 32%.

      3) If a company is passing on the NI they have to pay for each employee onto the aforementioned employee then this amount will have already been deducted before the employee gets their salary. Thus it does not need to be included. So the amount of tax paid is still 32%.

      4) 20% VAT on almost everything we buy does not equal 20% of a person’s salary. As the total salary has been reduced by 32% this means that the 20% VAT only applies to 68% of the salary. So VAT will only contribute an maximum of 13.6% to the total salary, making the maximum amount of tax paid 45.6%.

      5) So the maximum tax rate is 45.6%, not 80%.

      In conclusion the UK is not the most taxes place in the world, Scandinavia has far higher levels of taxes and also a higher standard of living.

      • lifelogic
        Posted February 9, 2012 at 7:50 pm | Permalink

        Yes, but still UK taxes (and regulations and expensive energy) are rather too high to be able to compete in world markets.

        • Bazman
          Posted February 10, 2012 at 11:23 am | Permalink

          In the race to the bottom we are uncompetitive this is true. There is some way to go before wages and conditions can are reduced to china and India’s standards enabling us to bid for work that they can get.

      • stred
        Posted February 10, 2012 at 10:02 am | Permalink

        Re point 3. The economic effect of the employee should be included, as this is amount goes to the Government as a result of the employment.

        In addition to VAT, the employee or self employee is taxed at higher levels with duties on drink and fuel which are applied as a tax on a tax. Anyone running a business or wishing to carry out any home improvements or repairs is then liable for extortionate charges for the hangmans rope of licences inspection and approvals, council tax, and BBC licence.

        So the 20% plus say 10% should be applied to the total, resulting in a proportion well over 50% to the State.

        • Bazman
          Posted February 10, 2012 at 11:30 am | Permalink

          So no building regulations and council tax? BBC license? What about the cost of constructing a beanie to prevent rays from entering the brain? Or the cost of haircuts? I don’t advise a haircut, stred. All hairdressers are in the employment of the government. Hairs are your aerials. They pick up signals from the cosmos, and transmit them directly into the brain. This is the reason bald-headed men are uptight.

          • stred
            Posted February 10, 2012 at 10:04 pm | Permalink

            I am not bald or long haired. Also, I don’t need some dim bureaucrat in the town hall to tell me how to be safe and healthy- and charge me £800 quid for the info.

            Did you know that I have to put a sound reducing quilt in the ceiling between the kitchen and bedroom so that I can’t be woken by my wife calling DINNERS READY. This is for my health. Also, I have to put double glazed thermal glass costing £200 in the door to the conservatory to keep my heating bills down and a mains fire alarm in a 2 storey house.

            Ram it, as you say in real folk language.

          • Bazman
            Posted February 12, 2012 at 11:03 am | Permalink

            The mains fire alarm requirement means that there must be paying guests? This is a commercial property. Are you suggesting these should be no regulation of Hotels and guest houses?

  8. alan jutson
    Posted February 9, 2012 at 8:48 am | Permalink

    Yes massive sums indeed.

    Not surprised few were taking much interest in the debate, it would seem that as long as the figure remains about the same, and at the moment does not go up, everyone is (most Mp’s) happy, thus everyone, local authorities included, just continue as before.
    No point in making a fuss !!

    The real problem with UK PLC is that no one really wants to get to grips with spending, probably because no one really knows how to, money just arrives, it does not have to be earned, and this is the real nub of the problem, whilst politicians can simply get more income by legal demand (by raising taxes) it will never really be resolved.

    Anything happened on the Sir Philip Greene report yet , or has this been buried along with so many other initiatives ?

    Seems to me too many people are involved in any sort of decision to change anything. Result it gets watered down at every single stage, and change becomes worthless in the end. far better to just carry on as before, collect and waste and not upset anyone.

    With this sort of thinking we are doomed to long term decline.

    • Alan Wheatley
      Posted February 9, 2012 at 2:27 pm | Permalink

      Makes me wonder whether governance has become too difficult for the governing class. Thus huddling together as one of 27 feels much safer.

  9. JimF
    Posted February 9, 2012 at 8:49 am | Permalink

    re MPs Pensions
    Why not contribute to a money purchase scheme, rather than defined benefits? Be ahead of the crowd, rather than perhaps the final group of workers outside the bona fide public sector who are in db schemes. I think MPs would then realise the difficulty in a/making a return on their pension investments and b/keeping up with the twists and turns of the government on contribution limits, lifetime allowances, permissible investments, annuity and drawdown rules and limitations…. and this comes from somebody trying to run a business at the same time as following this for self preservation purposes.

    • lifelogic
      Posted February 9, 2012 at 11:26 am | Permalink

      No chance.

    • BobE
      Posted February 10, 2012 at 12:25 am | Permalink

      I agree, a money purchase scheme. £100,000 buys you £500 a month. You need £400,000 to get £2000 a month. This is where all politicians should be. ASAP.
      JR, Will you respond to this then?

      Reply: I recommended closure of the MPs scheme and other public sector schemes to the incoming government, and the creation of new money purchase schemes for future contributions. They turned down this approach.

  10. Disaffected
    Posted February 9, 2012 at 9:02 am | Permalink

    I wrote previously this week, what substantive changes has Mr Pickles made during the last two years to cut pay of CEOs and senior non-entities? Community charge is increasing higher than inflation in some areas while the services are getting worse. I suggest a boundary review and change the size of councils so they are all a similar size and of a unitary nature. it would also provide the opportunity to make cuts and savings of back room non jobs. The police commissioner’s posts are going to cost us all a fortune- for what?? I want to see more ministers with grade 5 CSE metalwork in cabinet, they seem to be able to add up better than those with PPE degrees from Oxbridge. Ministers always want to discuss spending as percentages rather than money because it sounds less and makes them appear less wasteful and foolish.

    Do not be fooled by Mr R’s claim about MPs, they still have better pensions than most of us and do not have to attend parliament on a regularly basis to be entitled to their wage or pension or for both to be withdrawn. Then there is the subsidy of their restaurant (pointed out by Guido Fawkes daily) in addition to their food allowance. Also added bonus of joint income by employing partners/spouse and children. If they get deselected they become highly paid advisors to ministers. They also get elevated to the Lords to help supplement their huge pension- even Lord Norman Tebbit mentioned some undeserving candidates. Also second jobs, interest groups etc. A long way to go yet Mr R before the corruption is ousted from Westminster and MPs are paid for what they actually do and achieve rather than just being an MP.

    • Alan Wheatley
      Posted February 9, 2012 at 2:32 pm | Permalink

      Unitary authorities, yes. All to be a similar size NO.

      There has never been a local authority boundary change that has been widely welcomed, ESPECIALLY county boundaries. Local authorities no more need to be about the same size than do businesses. Changing boundaries wastes money, and the Boundary Commission is another area where savings can be made.

  11. Stephen O
    Posted February 9, 2012 at 9:05 am | Permalink

    Yes, disappointing. Could you enlighten us to why this is. Is it down to the motivations of people joining as MPs – are they more interested in wining argument against their opponents and less interested in the day to day business of scrutinising the government’s management of the country?

    Is it a lack of staff do analysis and research? Is it down to the quality of information provided by civil servants, making analysis too difficult to be done effectively?

    How does the Parliament compare with other legislatures internationally, in terms of the scrutiny it provides and its ability to propose improvements?

    • uanime5
      Posted February 9, 2012 at 5:00 pm | Permalink

      MP’s are chosen by political parties because they’ll vote for the party’s legislation, not because they understand what they’re doing. Thus they mostly bluster and splutter about things they don’t understand and look to the whips for advice. Don’t expect this to change while every MP is trying to prove their loyalty to the party to avoid being one of the MPs who loses their seat when the number of MPs is reduced by 50.

  12. Brian Tomkinson
    Posted February 9, 2012 at 9:08 am | Permalink

    The civil service and most politicians seem to have no interest in controlling the spending of taxpayers’ money. As well as the lack of interest you report, I read in yesterday’s Telegraph that the Whole of Government Accounts for 2009/10 were published in November. Incredibly this was the first time that the Treasury had ever conducted such an exercise. Despite taking 20 months to prepare it was incomplete as the Telegraph reported: “omitting, for example, the state-owned banks and Network Rail from the exercise, in defiance of standard accounting practice. Even so, the findings make salutary reading. They identify a public sector pensions liability of £1.13 trillion; PFI commitments of £131.5 billion (four times the asset value of the projects they financed); nuclear de-commissioning costs of £59.7 billion; £10.9 billion of unpaid taxes written off; and £15.7 billion earmarked for settling clinical negligence claims. The figures are dizzying – but not as alarming as the Treasury’s sanguine approach to them. The PAC found that officials “do not have a grip on trends in some key areas of risk or plans for managing them”. ” I despair when I read such reports which just confirm what most of us already think, but who in parliament is going to DO something about it?

    • lifelogic
      Posted February 9, 2012 at 11:24 am | Permalink

      As you say “The civil service and most politicians seem to have no interest in controlling the spending of taxpayers’ money” – indeed they have every interest in doing the reverse as we see almost everywhere.

    • Barry Sheridan
      Posted February 9, 2012 at 6:35 pm | Permalink

      No one will do anything. Britain has no proper financial control at the national level. The destination will be economic collapse, along with the rest of Europe. A slow but inevitable process.

  13. Nick
    Posted February 9, 2012 at 9:15 am | Permalink

    On the pension’s front.

    I think your pension fund should be confiscated. Then you should get a pension based entirely on the same return that contributions get for the state pension.

    After all, if its good for the public, its got to be good for you doesn’t it?

    Lets see. Median wage earner – 26K a year. What would they have received if the NI paid by them or on their behalf had gone into the FTSE?

    19K a year. RPI linked. Joint life.

    Instead you give us 5K and are chopping that.

    Why should you get preferential treatment compared to the public?

    • Mark
      Posted February 9, 2012 at 1:39 pm | Permalink

      Yet David Willetts’ “The Pinch” tells us that baby boomers have the best pensions ever, before we even get to draw them and find they’re not worth what we thought they were. Is he doing the pinching by squeezing our incomes?

      I do think that a zero pay increase is a good idea: it should discourage MPs from sanctioning policies that result in inflation.

      On the other hand, I’d rather have a House with competent MPs than one where they are paid an envy restricted wage. The low pay is already leading to far too many of them being simply party mouthpieces rather than intelligent, questioning individuals – amply illustrated by John’s post today, where it seems he was almost alone in asking serious questions.

      • APL
        Posted February 9, 2012 at 11:15 pm | Permalink

        Mark: “The low pay is already leading to far too many of them being simply party mouthpieces rather than intelligent, questioning individuals”

        Don’t be ridiculous! £64,000 per annum on the back benches is not ‘low paid’. That does not include ‘communications’ allowance, the staff allowance, the second home allowance.

        We get ‘party mouthpieces’ because that is what their bosses and selectors – THE PARTY – want. Obedient yes men.

    • APL
      Posted February 9, 2012 at 4:16 pm | Permalink

      Nick: “Why should you get preferential treatment compared to the public?”

      Excellent question.

      Answer: Because they can get away with it.

      • lifelogic
        Posted February 9, 2012 at 7:55 pm | Permalink

        Because in effect they set remuneration themselves – rather like top directors with their remuneration committees. In one case the voters have no effective controls in the other shareholders have no effective controls.

  14. AndyC71
    Posted February 9, 2012 at 9:30 am | Permalink

    Why not abolish grants from Westminster and make councils accountable for their own funding? Inject a little democratic accountability into local government!

    • Bob
      Posted February 9, 2012 at 1:53 pm | Permalink

      Agreed.

  15. A different Simon
    Posted February 9, 2012 at 9:51 am | Permalink

    Politicians have to understand that hiding the true cost and hidden costs of anything from the public has consequences .

    The majority of people in the country are completely unaware of the grant to local govt from central govt and honestly believe local services are provided for solely by council tax .

    Please ask your Westminster friends to stop treating us like children and to move towards subsidiary in taxation – which would also mean reducing our payments to the EU .

    • A different Simon
      Posted February 9, 2012 at 12:40 pm | Permalink

      Oops meant subsidiarity

  16. Bickers
    Posted February 9, 2012 at 9:52 am | Permalink

    Keep it simple: pass a law that Government can’t tax more than 35% of GDP in any tax year (excluding War). Any under/over spend has to be clawed back the following year.

    Government has shown itself incapable of managing the Nation’s finances so its’ time we capped what they can ‘rob’ us of. This can be brought in over the next five years. If Canada can lop 20% off its public sector spending then we can take the decisions to bring this about. Remember, when Labour came to power the Government was spending c.£250billion, it’s now north of £700billion; there’s plenty of room to substantially reduce spending without significantly effecting important front line services.

    • lifelogic
      Posted February 9, 2012 at 11:08 am | Permalink

      Indeed but 25% of GDP is about right not 35%. 25% is more than enough to pay for the little that is provided (that is of any real value or use to the public).

      • Bazman
        Posted February 9, 2012 at 11:49 am | Permalink

        What do you consider to be of real use and value to the public? Cutting the BBC and a few regulations is hardly going to get spending down to 25% of GDP. What in the main would you cut? The armed forces, NHS, welfare, roads? What? And how would the shortfall be taken care off. If welfare was cut in half to every recipient, should they just shrug and carry on? The roads are pretty bad at the moment so toll roads it is?
        Just because you personally do not use something does not mean it is of no use. Like the minimum wage.

        • lifelogic
          Posted February 9, 2012 at 8:00 pm | Permalink

          I would cut pointless wars, the absurd free at the point of use NHS and countless other things.

          Leaving defence, law and order and a very basic safety net for those genuinely unable to care for themselves. Not much else is needed.

          • Bazman
            Posted February 10, 2012 at 11:45 am | Permalink

            Countless other things that you cannot count and the big count in ending free at point of use NHS is who would pay and when. If you are laying on the floor after being run over or falling off a ladder going through the mans pockets would not be in order nor would a ‘pointless’ or ‘absurd’ debate.
            A very basic safety net for people genuinely unable to care for themselves and everyone else can ram it? Wonder how that would work in real life? Haven’t thought it through as usual have you?

  17. Posted February 9, 2012 at 9:59 am | Permalink

    I’d like to see councils raising their own funds – through council tax and rates – rather than getting big wedges of cash from central government. I would like to think that would make them a bit more responsible and accountable to their paying customers.

    Perhaps the MP pay freeze will encourage them to take a harder line over inflation at last? A ban on QE, with the requirement that the boss’s second “Dear Chancellor, sorry I haven’t done my job” letter has to include the word “resignation”, might rein in the complacency a bit…

    • Mark
      Posted February 9, 2012 at 1:45 pm | Permalink

      Local spending is a huge money-go-round, with funds centralised and then doled out in accordance with central control in accordance with their diktats. This process was greatly extended under Labour, and backed by legal requirements for councils to take on those non-jobs we love to hate. A good dose of deregulation and reduction of the degree of subsidy (which typically benefits Labour heartlands disproportionately anyway) would be a big help.

  18. Electro-Kevin
    Posted February 9, 2012 at 10:13 am | Permalink

    The levels of support aren’t being tackled for the simple reason that we haven’t gone properly bust – yet.

  19. Martin
    Posted February 9, 2012 at 10:19 am | Permalink

    I wouldn’t complain about your MP’s pension too much. At least you don’t have to put up with private sector annuities which are known to many of us as toilet paper as they are “invested” in Mr Osborne’s near 0% bonds.

    • lifelogic
      Posted February 9, 2012 at 11:18 am | Permalink

      Indeed “invested” is indeed perhaps not the right word here.

      MP’s still get 1/40 of salary as pension PA (they can opt for lower proportion, but only the really dim ones would I assume). So they can retire very comfortably after say just 20 years work. Work, in the main, of taxing, damaging and over regulating the productive and worse still outrageously handing over most of their powers to the unelected EU bureaucrats without any valid consent of the people.

    • Tedgo
      Posted February 9, 2012 at 6:09 pm | Permalink

      Gambled is the word I would use, mostly these days on the stock market. As to admin costs they should be no higher than putting money in to a normal deposit or building society account. Naturally the fees are both much higher and complicated.

      When you want to buy an annuity the first deduction is the agents fee, whether or not there is agent involved.

      I have a small pot currently about £25000 waiting to be turned in to a tiny fixed pension. Frankly the law should be changed so that small pots, say less than £100,000, should have the option of being paid over to the client in full without tax at retirement.

      The other change I would like to see is a guaranteed return on ones contributions say 3% above inflation. Now when our host complains, remember MP’s pensions have a guaranteed return.

  20. startledcod
    Posted February 9, 2012 at 10:19 am | Permalink

    Lack of attendence in the House has always struck me as an indicator of a poor MP, whether discussing the £72,000,000,000 (is that really the correct number of 000s?) or anything else. When MPs take pride in the all the work they are doing on behalf of their Constituents so much of that work should be being done by the local Councillors and Council officers not the MP. Surely an MP’s prime role is to debate Parliamentary business and to question the Executive. Perhaps a significant element of an MP’s pay could be linked to hours spent in the chamber ……

    John I had looked to your blog for a sound take on Fabio Capello’s resignation and whom should be his successor.

    • lifelogic
      Posted February 9, 2012 at 11:20 am | Permalink

      Who care about the England manager perhaps he should be East European like most other new workers in the UK at the moment – they seem to be good value for money in general.

      • Bazman
        Posted February 10, 2012 at 11:47 am | Permalink

        Any idea why? I bet you have not got clue.

        • Bazman
          Posted February 11, 2012 at 7:50 pm | Permalink

          Clueless.

    • lifelogic
      Posted February 9, 2012 at 8:05 pm | Permalink

      Or perhaps Beckham as player manager if he can still manage half a match.

  21. David John Wilson
    Posted February 9, 2012 at 10:49 am | Permalink

    The whole process of government funding of councils needs to be seriously reviewed. There are numerous items which are funded by council tax that should be directly funded by the government. There are others that should be directly funded by council tax without any government grant. For example;

    The police should be directly funded by the government. Most police forces are now so much larger than the council areas that the links established in the past no longer apply. This element of the council tax would be transfered to the general pot and the grant reduced appropriately.
    Councils need more control of local businesses and so collection and retention of business rates should revert to councils. This would enable councils to adjust these rates to the benefit for example of empty premises in town centres.
    Instead of imposing a mansion tax the government should introduce at least two new higher council tax bands. This would raise extra funding for the council and reduce the size of the grant. It would also avoid separate assessment and collection of mansion tax.
    Various licences like the TV licence should be discontinued and the money collected by a council tax increase of about£12 per month. This would be balanced by a decrease in the grant.

    • backofanenvelope
      Posted February 9, 2012 at 11:39 am | Permalink

      If the police and the education sector were funded directly by the central government, the remaining local expenditure would roughly equal the amount raised by council tax and the business rates. After all, both police and education are controlled by central government.

      The TV licence should be abolished and the BBC funded by subscription; just as Sky is.

      • David John Wilson
        Posted February 9, 2012 at 11:43 pm | Permalink

        The problem with BBC being by subscription is that radio and other services would need covering in some way. Additionally the merging of media mean that increasingly services are becoming available via the internet, mobile phone etc.
        We need a simple solution for the basic services that aren’t open to abuse i.e. licence avoidance.
        I thus think that at least the basic services should be paid for on a per household basis. This leads to the council tax as an ideal meansof collection.

  22. Jason Williams
    Posted February 9, 2012 at 11:10 am | Permalink

    You only truly appreciate money that you earn yourself.

    I am in favour of a Local Sales Tax to replace this block handout. It would make Local Councils appreciate where their monies actually come from, how it should be spent and focus the mind how they can get more.

    According to last years budget, the Treasury received £100bn from VAT; whereas Local Councils receive £72bn.

    I am sure the local taxpayer would appreciate receiving the difference back. Local Councils would become more accountable and national government would start to slim down.

    • backofanenvelope
      Posted February 9, 2012 at 11:41 am | Permalink

      Local authorities should be able to raise money as they saw fit. Council Tax; Local Sales Tax; Bonds. This money should fund everything except education and the police.

    • Bob
      Posted February 9, 2012 at 2:02 pm | Permalink

      Good point!

    • Alan Wheatley
      Posted February 9, 2012 at 2:44 pm | Permalink

      A problem with a local sales tax is that not all local authorities are in the same position as to how much is sold in their area. Nor are they in a position to do anything about it.

      Take the Trafford Centre – lots of sales going on there.

      Not far away is North Yorkshire, where a large part of the landmass is within the Yorkshire Dales National Park. National Parkes are controlled by legislation such that they are administered primarily for the benefit of the nation and local peoples interests come second. So no chance of building a mega shopping centre there then.

      • Jason Williams
        Posted February 9, 2012 at 10:05 pm | Permalink

        At the moment, some areas are ‘disadvantaged over others. However, local authority councillors are voted in to make a difference and handle the difficult questions.

        If you build it they will come….

        ….if you lower the rates, businesses will invest!

        The rise in LST will offset and pay for lower business rates.

    • APL
      Posted February 9, 2012 at 4:22 pm | Permalink

      Jason Williams: “I am in favour of a Local Sales Tax to replace this block handout.”

      Do you mean like the sales tax we used to have before that (disliked-ed) Edward Heath took us into the European Union abolished sales tax and replaced it with VAT?

      That sales tax?

      • lifelogic
        Posted February 9, 2012 at 8:16 pm | Permalink

        VAT is an absurd tax, with absurd complexity and hugely open to fraud. I still remember Enoch Powell asking Ted Heath whether he had “taken leave of his senses” after he said the government had decided to bring in absurd laws enforcing price and pay controls.

        He clearly had. Even at about age eleven, I could see Powell was right. Cameron reminds me of Heath in so, so many ways but with rather more polish perhaps.

        • Bazman
          Posted February 10, 2012 at 11:53 am | Permalink

          Extremely difficult tax to avoid meaning even cowboy builders pay some tax with the bonus of making tax collectors of legitimate business. There is indeed a lot more Polish with Cameron we had not expanded the EEC as much then. I thank you.

      • APL
        Posted February 9, 2012 at 8:50 pm | Permalink

        JR: (disliked-ed)

        Did he lie to us about the nature of the EEC?
        Did he make the case that VAT would be simpler?
        Was there a simple point of sale ‘sales tax’ that was abolished by the Heath government and replaced by the EECs VAT?
        Did Edward Heath ( a Tory ) seek to destroy the United Kingdom as an independent country?
        Did he succeed?**

        Before you reply, bear in mind 85% of our laws are dictated from Brussels, while the people we pay (£64,000 per annum ) to represent us in our own government and scrutinize our laws, debate chocolate oranges and don’t even debate anything their masters in Brussels choose to send our way.

      • Jason Williams
        Posted February 9, 2012 at 10:02 pm | Permalink

        I’m sory, I’m not that old….

  23. Pete
    Posted February 9, 2012 at 11:40 am | Permalink

    Seems like nobody is interested in reality. Not a single person in government seems to be concerned that we still have am appalling deficit and no real way of reducing it.

  24. dan
    Posted February 9, 2012 at 11:50 am | Permalink

    another day another blog…

    Your leader, the PM of the United Kingdom, is absolutely hopeless.
    What you going to do about it, Mr Redwood?

  25. ian wragg
    Posted February 9, 2012 at 11:55 am | Permalink

    The MP’s can continue to be uninterested in figures like £72 billion until the bond markets start to come after sterling.
    When the foreigners start to remove the money from the UK after they realise it’s not a safe have then the real size of the deficit and underlying debt will become apparent.
    We’re little better than Greece except we don’t have the Euro (thank goodness).
    There will be a sudden reduction in public spending, just like in Canada.

  26. A.Sedgwick
    Posted February 9, 2012 at 12:05 pm | Permalink

    Local Government is one of the financial ticking time bombs. It is another sacred cow of big government keeping the wheels of bureaucracy going. Education should be removed lock,stock and barrel from its control with each school ordered to be independent with direct central funding. There is a strong case for planning control to be regionalised, there must be economies of scale and less bias.

    Local Government should be self funding.This is the only way to make it accountable. There would of course be ad hoc decisions dumped on local people for which central funds have to pay.

    How to pay for it – not by Council Tax. In the unlikely event that Scotland goes UDI, we in England could bring back the poll tax. Council Tax is just Rates II and was one of the early examples of the Scottish tail wagging the English dog.

    Another option is all sales tax revenue being locally set and kept, but that requires the removal of VAT and exit from the EU.

    Dream on and keep printing BOE.

  27. Bernard Otway
    Posted February 9, 2012 at 12:08 pm | Permalink

    Slightly off topic but still important.
    In yesterdays Daily Mail business section on page 57 an article about Glaxosmithkline quotes the CEO Andrew Witty as saying that the company ” conducts a DAILY SWEEP of it’s
    European firms,and REMOVES ALL CASH to “SECURE” UK banks”.NOW that is attention to
    DETAIL,I suggest that we appoint him and his top management team to BABYSIT government PLUS all the PUBLIC SERVICE.I also wonder whether anyone in UKIP has picked up on this remarkable piece of information,as it certainly says a lot about Glaxo’s attitude to the EU,which is also probably mirrored by MOST companies.Amazing how IMPORTANT views are sometimes lost to wider information streams.

  28. J.D. Hummerstone
    Posted February 9, 2012 at 12:18 pm | Permalink

    Local authorities: Why doesn’t local democracy work? The elected council imposes all kinds of charges for which little service is provided (i.e. they are arbitrary taxes) and they get away with it, although everybody complains. What needs changing?

  29. Brian A
    Posted February 9, 2012 at 12:34 pm | Permalink

    As with so many issues Milton Friedman nailed the essence of the problem of spending taxpayers’ money by focusing on the four types of spending: a) spending your own money on yourself – generally looking for best value; b) spending your own money on somebody else – usually careful about the cost; c) spending somebody else’s money on oneself – generally looking to push the boat out (MP’s expenses for example); and d) spending somebody else’s money on somebody else – where few people give much of a damn about value for money. Given that public spending is overwhelmingly a category d) activity should we be surprised about a lack of concern and the associated misspending and waste?

  30. Liz
    Posted February 9, 2012 at 12:36 pm | Permalink

    The Government is proposing to make it compulsory for all dogs to be microchipped – presumably to be enforced by local councils. Can’t you just see all the ads for “microchip enforcers” in the Guardian. Does nobody in Government really think things through and cost them? This is the worrying thing is that not only are there no real cuts but totally unnecessary expenditure is proposed. Of course should they bring in such a bill the people they are aiming at who keep attack dogs will not microchip their dogs and there will be heart rending cases of pets being snatched from their owners for “not being microchipped” when the microchip has moved, as can happen. Why on earth cannot they enact some of the things, discussed here previously, that are popular and were promised in the manifesto and which might even save money instead of proposing measurers to waste even more.

  31. Barbara
    Posted February 9, 2012 at 12:36 pm | Permalink

    A few days ago the Yorkshire Post reported that the NHS is spending £20 million a year on translators and interpreters:

    http://www.yorkshirepost.co.uk/news/at-a-glance/main-section/nhs_spends_20m_a_year_on_translators_and_interpreters_1_4218929

    and another article reported how local councils were also almost unable to meet their ‘translating and interpreting’ costs. They have to keep prioritising it, however, because they must, by law, meet equality and diversity targets.

    This is just one example (doubtless, if taken forward, we would be told that saving a mere 20 million is ‘peanuts’ and not worth bothering about). Common sense says there are many ways of saving many tens of millions of public spending. Sadly, common sense has long since left no 10 Downing Street, which seems to have other priorities, whoever is the incumbent at any given time.

  32. lola
    Posted February 9, 2012 at 1:03 pm | Permalink

    It’s not just the pensions contributions that irk me Mr R, it’s the fact that MP’s are paid at all. I will concede that MP’s need the expenses legitimately incurred in the discharge of their duites met by the taxpayer in general but I have never been able to see why the national taxpayer should stump up their wages. In a more accountable democracy any wages they were awarded would be paid by their constituents, with the ability to contract out of paying it. Skin in the game y’see, skin in the game.

    • lifelogic
      Posted February 9, 2012 at 8:23 pm | Permalink

      If MP’s were not paid the quality would probably be rather better than it is I suspect.

  33. Posted February 9, 2012 at 1:21 pm | Permalink

    What will MPs pension contribution rate be for a 1/60ths pensions John? The 1/40th pension is not comparable with anything in the rest of the public sector is it?

    Thanks for the post though- a useful one.

    reply: It is 1/40ths – this rate was recommended by a past review to reflect the fact that the average MP only survives for 10 years in the job, and few MPs are elected in their 20s.

    • lifelogic
      Posted February 9, 2012 at 8:24 pm | Permalink

      No but they do do some other job with pension before they are elected one assumes.

    • Posted February 9, 2012 at 9:08 pm | Permalink

      Yes I understand that may have seemed appropriate in the days when most public sector jobs were quite secure. Having lost three within the past five years and fully understanding the reality rather than the myth of job security in the public sector I understand that it’s laughable now.

      Luckily for MPs they will have the opportunity of dropping from 1/40ths to 1/50th and actually taking a net income increase while still retaining pensions on terms unavailable to the rest of the public sector. Won’t they John? Or is there anyone else in the public sector who can get a pension at 1/50ths. Aren’t most on 1/80ths?

      By the idea of MPs taking a cut in their net incomes doesn’t warm me at all. The idea of them many of them dropping their ignorant ideologies and getting in touch with reality would warm me. The idea of Mr Gove engaging in rather immature and incorrect character assassination of those he should be able to engage in intelligent conversation would also warm me.

      An on a more positive note the efforts being made by some of you to nurture free speech do warm me.

    • APL
      Posted February 9, 2012 at 9:10 pm | Permalink

      JR: “It is 1/40ths – this rate was recommended by a past review to reflect the fact that the average MP only survives for 10 years in the job, and few MPs are elected in their 20s.”

      If its so bad being an MP, how is it there isn’t a shortage of candidates?

      There probably wouldn’t be many complaining about your self inflicted generous terms and conditions if this countries economy was thriving, a result of sound steward ship by our ‘representatives’. But it ain’t and there hasn’t been.

      Reply: I was telling you why the Establishment decided as it did on the pension. I have also explained that I recommended an end to all final salary public sector schemes for new accruals, to be replaced by money purchase so you get what you save.

    • Paul H
      Posted February 9, 2012 at 11:52 pm | Permalink

      Which means that the rest of time they can be accruing a pension elsewhere …

  34. Posted February 9, 2012 at 1:22 pm | Permalink

    I would be happy to see MOs being part of a bonus culture. I would be happy to see them each offered a £200,000 bonus every year that Britain surpassed the world average growth rate of £4.8%. If they earned that I would not consider them overpaid. On the other hand they would mostly probably be overpaid now on 20 shillings a year.

  35. Damien
    Posted February 9, 2012 at 1:42 pm | Permalink

    JR: My first observation is that much of this is ‘pork barrel’ spending and so it is hardly surprising that there are few objections.

    You mention amongst the winners an increase in environmental grants and also that this local government spending overall amounts to £1,400 per individual. Have you considered that the spend on wind farms and the like has actually caused our household and industry electricity bills to be higher by 15%.?

    I read today that the new Lib Dem Energy Secretary is proud to endorse the £1.2 billion investment in the Waltney wind farm. This is a continuation of the type of spending typical of Labour.

    There are a few things that the mandarins in Whitehall will not have told the new Energy Secretary such as;

    The UK does not manufacture wind turbines so our taxes are providing high quality jobs
    abroad. EU and Labour environmental policies mean that despite the record growth in public spending on wind farms in the UK we are now reduced to lower end assembly and installation for foreign companies products.

    Wind turbines cost the public €1m per MW (Bloomberg wind turbine price index)

    Off shore wind farms alone produce 9016.1 MW(Renewable UK) which therefore costs us €9016.1 million per year.

    Politicians should be asking how much of the public money being spent on UK products that could go to provide UK jobs as is the case in every other country?

    • uanime5
      Posted February 9, 2012 at 6:27 pm | Permalink

      The Government is building wind turbines because in 2012/13 several power plants will be shutting down because they’re old and the only power plants that can be built in time to replace them are wind turbines.

      According to Bloomberg the price of wind turbines has been coming down and is ‘continuing to become a competitive source of large-scale power.’ It also states that the €1m per MW price is for onshore wind farms and does not give the cost of offshore ones. Thus your €9 billion cost of offshore wind farms is likely to be incorrect.

      Regarding the cost of wind farms it says the following:

      “The cost of electricity generated from wind is now at record lows: several projects in high resource areas (US, Brazil, Sweden, Mexico) display a levelised cost of energy – excluding the impact of subsidies but after including the cost of capital and maintenance – below EUR 50/MWh ($68/MWh). This compares to current estimated average costs of $67 per MWh for coal-fired power and $56 per MWh for gas-fired power.”

      So the wind power costs a similar amount to coal power.

      http://bnef.com/PressReleases/view/139

      According to Renewable UK offshore wind farms won’t produce 8 GW until 2016, so they can’t be producing over 9 GW at present.

      http://www.bwea.com/offshore/index.html

      • forthurst
        Posted February 9, 2012 at 10:45 pm | Permalink

        I’m sure there are ‘high resource’ areas on the globe where windmills would spin continuously and optimally; however, that has precisely no relevance to the UK where wind neither facilitates continuous nor optimal operation. In fact the only 24/7 attribute in the UK is eyesoreness. It is unclear whether the quoted capital costs would include power lines or how comparable their costs would be here. What is for certain is that plant which may be operated for base load or supplementary load cannot responsibly be replaced in the UK by windmills.

  36. Alan Wheatley
    Posted February 9, 2012 at 2:16 pm | Permalink

    With government spending beyond its means it is a foregone conclusion that too much is being spent on local government, as with other areas of spending. As to where and by how much spending should be reduced is much more difficult to answer.

    Anecdotal evidence may collectively lead to a tidy sum, but likely still but a drop in the ocean. Also, change needed in one locality may be be wrong elsewhere. So for macro-economic policy on local government a different approach is needed.

    For a start it would help to have a clear understanding as to what is required of local government. It seems there little scope for discretion as much of what has to do done is defined as a requirement of local government or is required of them by central government to implement their plans.

    So as well as, quite rightly, looking to local government to be efficient in what they do it would also make sense to see if less could be required of them.

    If local government is to be held to account by the people they represent them it would be very helpful for local people to be able to have a much clearer idea of responsibilities. But I am not sure just how much local people can be bothered. Experience suggests that local people blame central government at general elections for all that has gone wrong even where blame rightly lies at the local level; this is a good part of the problem of proper accountability.

  37. Posted February 9, 2012 at 2:30 pm | Permalink

    Cameron is off on another Jolly , this time to Sweden to discuss women in the boardroom (a wholly patronising and insulting idea as far as I am concerned). A waste of taxpayers money. Whatever happened to conferencing as a way of saving money?

    The newspaper’s are reporting on his idiotic, hair-brained schemes. I thought we were cutting down on quangoes? More wasting of taxpayers money!

    Cameron to appoint new Personal Hygiene Czar

    “Concern about declining standards of personal hygiene have inspired David Cameron’s Coalition government to appoint a Personal Hygiene and Cleanliness Supervisor who will advise Britons on how to get the most out of their Personal Hygiene and Cleanliness routines, especially when they use the loo”. (Are we going to be shown how to wipe our bottoms correctly?)

    http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/jamesdelingpole/100135804/cameron-to-appoint-new-personal-hygiene-czar/

    Total cost of David Cameron’s Happiness Index soars to £8m (AND NO, I AM NOT HAPPY, I’M FURIOUS).

    http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/news/politics/4105814/Happiness-Index-David-Camerons-probe-will-cost-8m.html

    Honestly, I’m stunned. Could you remind Cameron, we are all adults out here please? Lunatics running the asylum doesn’t even cover it. Stop wasting our money on these absolutely cretinous schemes and we might just be able to get our bins emptied once a week.

    NOW THAT WOULD MAKE ME HAPPY!

    • backofanenvelope
      Posted February 9, 2012 at 6:21 pm | Permalink

      Well, of course, the Personal Hygiene Czar was a joke. The worrying is that if you had just looked at the headline and not read the rest, you would have had no trouble believing it.

    • forthurst
      Posted February 9, 2012 at 7:04 pm | Permalink

      I’m fairly certain Mr Delingpole thinks he’s being amusing. He’s having a day off from the Global Warming Hoax. However, in general, I agree that Cameron is totally clueless; there are areas of economic activity which do not suffer from a dearth of females nor a preponderance of good sense, so what? Does he seriously expect to draft women compulsorily into companies in engineering etc, the few that we now have left? How would this improve R-R, ARM, Rio Tinto etc?

      Personally I’m getting sick and tired of idiotic posturing from this government. I note that GM is looking to consolidate in Europe, an activity over which this government has absolutely no direct control as with all the other foreign owned businesses, but indirectly, the government apparently can’t do enough to snuff them out with completely unnecessary cost burdens, particularly for electricity and ‘carbon credit’ nonsense.

      We need a new direction; one which is patriotic and pragmatic, words which I suspect are either strange or repugnant to too many on the Tory benches and all without exception within the LibDem menagerie.

    • Bazman
      Posted February 9, 2012 at 7:20 pm | Permalink

      Cameron to appoint new Personal Hygiene Czar.
      Excellent idea. Hopefully will include fines and standards of all Britain’s to maintain. Surely there must be some medieval laws that need enforcing on the great unwashed?

    • lifelogic
      Posted February 9, 2012 at 8:29 pm | Permalink

      Spot on – Cameron is photo-op to photo-op. PR is all to Cameron. Who wants substance? Anyway he cannot do that as the EU is in real control.

  38. James Reade
    Posted February 9, 2012 at 2:35 pm | Permalink

    Perhaps, given the discussions about Greece leaving the eurozone, you should break down the per head sum to different parts of the UK – who are the net recipients and who are the net contributors.

    Isn’t it time the South East stopped being forced to subsidise the laggards in the poundzone? Isn’t it time the North West left the poundzone? Can we explore the legal consequences of that next please?

    It looks like Scotland have gone one step further and are trying to get out. They’ve suffered for years and years inside the poundzone…

    • De Recardo
      Posted February 9, 2012 at 10:21 pm | Permalink

      stop causing trouble for the sake of it!

      silly attempts to correlate an argument about the euro with England are daft

      where will this get you ?

    • APL
      Posted February 10, 2012 at 2:48 pm | Permalink

      James Reade: “It looks like Scotland have gone one step further and are trying to get out. They’ve suffered for years and years inside the poundzone…”

      The irony is James, the SNP have always made the case that they would seek ‘independence within Europe’ an oxymoron if ever there was one. Someone less polite than I might say that swallowing such a slogan does not reflect too well on the intellectual abilities of SNP supporters. But that person is not me.

      Anyway, all that drivel the SNP used to witter on about, holding up the Irish Republic and Iceland as the ‘Celtic arc’ is looking distinctly tarnished at this juncture.

      Ask Ireland or Greece what ‘independence’ in Europe means. It really doesn’t mean independence.

      As to fiscal transfers in the Sterling zone, what on earth do you think the Barnett formula is if not a means to shovel money from England to Scotland?

  39. Max Dunbar
    Posted February 9, 2012 at 2:47 pm | Permalink

    £72 billion of “support” for local government. Why worry? None of these MPs will ever be held to account for this cash never mind the councils who misspend it. Most of them are hostile to your Party anyway. Its a mere staging post on the Tory journey to the left and of no interest to anyone except accountants and misguided financial handwringers so why worry about it? Incidentally, I believe that the figure for Scottish support is in the region of £30 billion? Have nice glass of wine and relax.

  40. Steven Whitfield
    Posted February 9, 2012 at 2:53 pm | Permalink

    Mr Redwood, I don’t think it is surprising that your arguments didn’t gain any traction in parliament. It wasn’t just simply a bad day for parliament – the stony silence of your colleaugues is typical of the sort of debate that is pre-ordained by the group-think mentaility of the house.

    Proposing a cut in subisidy to local council spending is entirely sensible- planned step reductions in subsidy could be made to encourage efficiency savings. This would be a popular policy if the cuts were earmarked for non front line services.

    But the politically correct establisment do not see it that way. Reducing spending is taking power away from the weak to give back to the poor. That is forbidden by the Westminister culture of PC.

    The ‘cuts’ argument is framed as ‘attacking the most vulnerable and disadvantaged in society’. It is increasing ‘poverty’ of babies and children. In that kind of toxic environment, how many Mp’s are willing to stand up and speak the factually correct truth ?.This is what happens when Mp’s stand aside and refuse to acknowledge or confront politically correct thinking. The terms of the debate need to be changed.

    We need to hear some plain speaking in the house. JR could do much better but something along these lines…

    ‘For too long long this house has allowed political correctness to determine the terms of debate on a vast range of issues. From top to bottom of local council’s to the highest offices of this land.PC has spread it’s tentacles. I say this must stop. I say that as a country we can no longer afford this self indulgent journey into this subversion of common sense . Our constituents demand that I speak the factually correct truth and I will do so’.

    ‘The case for cuts is overwhelming, we cannot continue to live beyond our means. But they must not be token cuts. If only this chamber could re-connect with reality and turn down the hysteria we could see that the necessary savings can be made without front line services being adversely affected..’

    • uanime5
      Posted February 9, 2012 at 6:45 pm | Permalink

      This has nothing to do with political correctness and more to do with MPs having no idea how much money Councils need.

      Cuts cannot be made without adversely effecting front line services because either front line services are cut or they suffer because front line services rely on non-front line services.

      The cuts are disproportionately causing more harm to the poorest in society because the poor rely on councils and benefits far more than the wealthy. This is a fact based on economics, not political correctness.

      • Max Dunbar
        Posted February 9, 2012 at 9:25 pm | Permalink

        Would you say that MPs are ineffective when dealing with councils who affect poverty?

      • Steven Whitfield
        Posted February 10, 2012 at 2:03 am | Permalink

        ‘Cuts cannot be made without adversely effecting front line services because either front line services are cut or they suffer because front line services rely on non-front line services.’

        ‘The cuts are disproportionately causing more harm to the poorest in society because the poor rely on councils and benefits far more than the wealthy. This is a fact based on economics, not political correctness’

        I am grateful to you for concisely describing the position adopted by our ruling elite . You perfectly describe the narrow references of the debate and the reason why the venerable Mr Redwood is banging his head against the proverbial brick wall. The terms of acceptable debate on public spending (at Westminster) are so narrow it’s hardly worth bothering to discuss it seems.

        It is not ignorance of how much money a council really needs that is holding our politicians back . This could be determined if a serious effort was made to cost the services and benefits that people really need and appreciate… and then cut the departments, vanity projects and layers of management in the NHS etc. that amount to ‘paying people to dig holes and fill them in again’.

        It is our masters concrete headed belief that ever higher spending is always a good thing and reducing spending is always universally bad, inevitably causing ‘harm’ to the ‘poorest in society’. This is stifling debate and reason as Mp’s are routinely afraid of being vilified for holding unacceptable beliefs

        Faced with this overbearing sentimental claptrap surrounding the cuts agenda, too many Mp’s conclude – end of argument. It fits in with their comfortable Politically correct habit of dividing the world into camps of poor ‘victims’ and rich ‘oppressors’. And then labeling political opponents as either Left wing – (modern and virtuous) or right wing, (cruel and old fashioned)

        But theses simple, lazy arguments of the politically correct, don’t bother to explore the ‘harm’ caused to society by a flat lining economy overburdened by taxation.
        The ‘harm caused to the workless by the lack of incentive to work.
        The erosion of the culture of organisations like the NHS when managers spend £120 on changing a light bulb – but are unable to ensure that elderly patients recieve a drink of water or are treated in a clean hospital.

        It is a scandal that on that day in parliament, these kind of arguments were not properly debated . The coalition just signed another big unaffordable cheque to be part paid by more phoney QE money no doubt.

      • Steven Whitfield
        Posted February 10, 2012 at 2:09 am | Permalink

        ‘The cuts are disproportionately causing more harm to the poorest in society because the poor rely on councils and benefits far more than the wealthy. This is a fact based on economics, not political correctness’

        I am grateful to you for concisely describing the position adopted by our ruling elite . You perfectly describe the narrow references of the debate and the reason why the venerable Mr Redwood is banging his head against the proverbial brick wall. The terms of acceptable debate on public spending (at Westminster) are so narrow it’s hardly worth bothering to discuss it seems.
        It is not ignorance of how much money a council really needs that is holding our politicians back .
        This could be determined if a serious effort was made to cost the services and benefits that people really need and appreciate… and then cut the departments, vanity projects and layers of management in the NHS etc. that amount to ‘paying people to dig holes and fill them in again’.

        It is our masters concrete headed belief that ever higher spending is always a good thing and reducing spending is always universally bad, inevitably causing ‘harm’ to the ‘poorest in society’. This is stifling debate and reason as Mp’s are routinely afraid of being vilified for holding unacceptable beliefs

        Faced with this overbearing sentimental claptrap surrounding the cuts agenda, too many Mp’s conclude – end of argument. It fits in with their comfortable Politically correct habit of dividing the world into camps of poor ‘victims’ and rich ‘oppressors’. And then labeling political opponents as either Left wing – (modern and virtuous) or right wing, (cruel and old fashioned)

        But theses simple, lazy arguments of the politically correct, don’t bother to explore the ‘harm’ caused to society by a flat lining economy overburdened by taxation.
        The ‘harm caused to the workless by the lack of incentive to work.
        The erosion of the culture of organisations like the NHS when managers spend £120 on changing a light bulb – but are unable to ensure that elderly patients recieve a drink of water or are treated in a clean hospital.

        It is a scandal that on that day in parliament, these kind of arguments were not properly debated . The coalition just signed another big unaffordable cheque to be part paid by more phoney QE money no doubt.

  41. rose
    Posted February 9, 2012 at 3:08 pm | Permalink

    What little central government has earmarked for Bristol has been spent only on the project in question, the Showcase Bus Route. Surplus funds could not be spent on what was desperately needed: routine maintenance in the surrounding side streets which are in a conservation area and badly neglected. So surplus traffic islands have been added instead to the main road, where we don’t need them, narrowing the channel through which the traffic must pass, with no room at the side any more for bikes; while the pavements in the side streets have been abandoned – to dustbins and sandwich boards, and the vandalism of pavement parking, especially by HGVs. What an upside down world. Residents must now walk in the side roads, instead of on their broken pavements, and cannot easily get to these expensively planted ornamental traffic islands down the middle of the main road, even if they wanted to. As for the Showcase Buses – they are usually stuck in the traffic jam they and their newly narrowed channel have caused.

    If only surplus funds could go to what is needed locally, not just spent any old how to say it has been spent on what was agreed, that would be a good administrative reform, and better value for the taxpayer.

    By the way, I hope you will turn out, Mr R, on Feb 23rd to put some sense into the bike safety debate. It is in everyone’s interest for it to be safer to bicycle on our roads.

    We need serious physical protection from the increasingly angry motorists, but what we are getting is jobs for the boys and girls at the periphery of bike racks, buildouts, and patter – so they can say the Cycling City money has been spent as earmarked.

    • rose
      Posted February 9, 2012 at 9:28 pm | Permalink

      PS Here are divers first hand accounts to give you the necessary background information for the debate:

      inhttp://extras.thetimes.co.uk/public/cycling-campaign-stories/?letter=Rformation.

  42. Tad Davison
    Posted February 9, 2012 at 3:30 pm | Permalink

    Big government, and yet more government, seems to be the trend these days. It’s just one more thing that cannot go on indefinitely, as it’s unaffordable long-term. That is but one of the big problems with the EU, and that makes it a total nonsense.

    Tad Davison

    Cambridge

  43. sm
    Posted February 9, 2012 at 3:44 pm | Permalink

    An interesting graph, giving some idea of what would the fall would be like without the QE for banks and to fund deficit spending. (thanks to sweetnesslight from telegraph blog)

    http://av.r.ftdata.co.uk/files/2011/11/200bn-QE.jpg

    If we are truly trying to rebalance our economy, why not use the QE money in other ways.

    We may as well cut out the banks and bonuses by moving to full reserve banking. Politically QE can be better defended rather than being seen as defending a broken banking model. Using the QE money in the economy then can be decided on national priorities with some serious discussion.

    If ever the banks regain health, and they ARE still allowed to create debtinterest moneyloans, ie to create credit , it will be inflation taking off. I dont see Mr Osborne/King turning into a Paul Volker.

    • JimF
      Posted February 9, 2012 at 9:18 pm | Permalink

      They didn’t use tax revenue to rebalance the economy so why use the QE money?

      Far more expedient to fund the bloated state with some leaking through to the odd capital project or consumer spend, where again most hardware will be imported.
      Basically net gainers from this QE are public sector workers and pensioners, who would otherwise be on the dole, and mortgagees generally.
      Net losers are private sector pensioners, Sterling investors and other bondholders.

      Yes, an alternative would be to rebuild British dynamism and industry, but that would take too long and require some hard work.

  44. Winston Smith
    Posted February 9, 2012 at 5:05 pm | Permalink

    You need to remember that much of the wasteful local Govt spending is to comply with central Govt legislation and edicts within ring-fenced grants. Then they have to supply the same services to many more people each year, thanks to central Govt mass immigration policies. Sure, LAs can be much more efficient and they waste money on pointless schemes, but stop passing the buck and look to your own colleagues who are in a position to make changes that could reduce LA spending. LAs are spending £ms just to comply with the marxist Equality Act, pushed through by your colleagues.

  45. Barbara Stevens
    Posted February 9, 2012 at 5:23 pm | Permalink

    Well Mr Redwood your pension is your business and I wouldn’t presume to say its value for money for the taxpayer who helps to fund it. You earn your money like everyone else, being in parliament can be a precarious business, from one election to another. Your there by the whim of the electors. Not everyone likes to live and earn like that.
    As for the governments spending for next year, we’ll probably see cuts again even though we are being told its increased spending; it won’t feel like.
    We have had libreries cut, swimming baths, retirement homes, you name it, it’s been cut. Services used by all and paid for by local taxes. What are we left with, substandard services and many almost nil. In our area they are now proposing to rebuild and replace some, how daft is that.
    You cannot keep cutting services to the bone, and expect the same services to continue. The government cannot, either, expect the electorate to believe what they say, for they see the results of their policies each day. I for one feel let down and that the electorate are angry to see services cut to the bone, and what for. Children, from poor backgrounds looked to local libraries for an extension to their education through books, all do not have the Internet to use. Buying books is out of the question.
    So, talking about MPs pensions to me is futile and patriotnising when the poorest of our country and the least able to defend themselves have to fight even harder to survive, in education, and services that were available till the bankers caused the crash. That’s how they see it, in black and white, and no colour.
    Its how the young will see this as they grow up, into young men, it may make them harder and least compliable to law and order, it breeds contempt and it festers like a bad wine. I hope they don’t turn out like that, but denied basic things at such a young life can alter their course through life. So, when we talk about the money allocated for the country, we should think what and whom we spend it on, for it as far reaching results if spent wrongly. The same goes for this awful health bill, destroying the health service won’t be forgiven, when people fail to get treatment and die or suffer, the bell will toll. The Conservative would so well to drop the health bill before they do it,and themselves great damage. Will they listen, I doubt it, but the electorate is.

  46. Iain Gill
    Posted February 9, 2012 at 5:24 pm | Permalink

    got a use for 50 billion quid anyone? QE running at more than 20% of GDP…

    crazy crazy crazy the political bubble really has gone mad

    • Mark
      Posted February 9, 2012 at 6:56 pm | Permalink

      Not quite…It’s £50bn in three months, or £200bn per year – but it certainly leaves the Bank buying more gilts than the DMO is issuing. There’s £26.867bn due for redemption on March 7th. As at Feb 7th, the DMO had sold £160.787bn out of a planned £178.9bn for the financial year, leaving £18.1bn to go:

      http://www.dmo.gov.uk/documentview.aspx?docname=Remit/20120207remit.pdf&page=

      Of course, January and February sees seasonally high receipts because of payments of self-assessment tax and CGT, leading to less need to borrow. Lots of QE cash to whip up inflation over the next couple of years though…

  47. Atlas
    Posted February 9, 2012 at 5:47 pm | Permalink

    John,
    Like many, I don’t object to remuneration and pension provision honestly earnt. So I think it would be useful to establish what the job of MP is. This way we would have a baseline for perfomance and therefore financial reward. For example: Is the job of MPs to rubber stamp Civil Service EU wheezes which the’ve blagged past their Minister? (This is the Whips ideal definition). Or is it to think for himself when considering proposed legislation? – heaven forbid!

    Reply: I agree – there are of course many different ways of being an MP, and many varied roles within Parliament. The common themes should be to represent constituents views to Parliament, and to seek to explain government and Parliament to constituents.Duties include exercising understanding and judgement when considering new laws and the actions of the executive, and seeking to sort out problems constituents have when dealing with public authorities.

    • Alan Wheatley
      Posted February 10, 2012 at 12:35 pm | Permalink

      The job of some MPs is to be Speaker or one of his deputies. I have long pondered what the constituents of such MPs make of this. On election night a universal theme is for the elected MP to say how honoured and proud they are to have been elected to serve their constituents, which is fair enough. But you have to wonder how much representing goes on when the role of Speaker or deputy is superimposed: I believe that “special arrangements” are made, but you can but wonder if “representation” has become second class.

      So with political reform in the air, how about Speaker and deputies being chosen by the Commons from members of the Lords?

      Reply: The Speaker fights the election as Speaker, so his or her constituents usually know the position.
      The Speaker and Deputies have good access to Ministers, and make private representations on behalf of their constituents. They are no more constrained than Ministers, who cnanot speak on topics other than their own Ministry, and who can never oppose government policy in public.

  48. uanime5
    Posted February 9, 2012 at 6:08 pm | Permalink

    The problems with councils is that the government has taken so many powers from councils no one seems to know what councils are meant to do. Thus it difficult to assess how much money in addition to council tax they require.

  49. JimF
    Posted February 9, 2012 at 6:51 pm | Permalink

    Whether this particular £72bn is spent centrally or locally is surely of little import, compared with the fundamental choice to continue to borrow ever increasing amounts of money and, when this doesn’t do the trick, print another wodge. We all thought this was a Labour party trick to kick the can down the road for an incoming Government to deal with. Had it been a Labour government they would have continued to print and borrow, because their way of dealing with prudent savers is to remove their savings from them by stealth. We now have a government which is doing PRECISELY that.
    You know this has to end in tears. You’ve said as much yourself. You were echoing Mr Osborne in opposition in saying that QE is the last resort of a failed economic policy. Yet the so-called one-off stimulus instigated by Labour has turned into a “programme” under this government. So is the government now programmed into a failed economic policy?

  50. Jon
    Posted February 9, 2012 at 6:57 pm | Permalink

    I would like to think that the £72bn cost is because of all the redundancies having to factored in, the upfront costs of relocating offices as they look to share resources with other councils or the redress payments for cancelling contracts. However, its starting to look like thats not what it is. If the MPs were not debating savings to be made it makes me fear its slipping off the agenda.

    Just as with John’s pension costs everyone else seems to be having to pay more and/or get less. I hope its not an indication that government spending will remain around £700bn +! The low interest rates and AAA status are dependent on us getting this to a manageable level.

    On the subject of the pension what normally happens in the private sector is that the level of pension is cut. I’m assuming the MPs wanted to keep the pension accrual rate at the same level put pay more for it. That said I wasn’t expecting the pension deal that the civil service has been offered which is still too high.

  51. Jon
    Posted February 9, 2012 at 7:09 pm | Permalink

    On the pension is there an argument that the MPs could switch to a money purchase arrangement say with a 15 to 20% employer contribution and then whatever each individual wants to pay. The reason why its not an option for the civil service is that the cost of running the accrued defined benefits along side pre funding going forward would be too expensive. The MPs are a small group and so that could be financed and achieve a saving in the long term but still with a good employer percentage contribution. It would give MPs the same type of pension that most of their consituents have meaning a better understanding of them perhaps.

    I say this because I think a number of MPs have little understanding of them. At a recent Westminster Hall debate with Steve Webb an MP asked for the subsidy to the pensions industry to be dropped. He was referring to tax relief which as pensions are taxed as earned income neither is it a subsidy for the person who pays into that money purchase scheme nor the industry players. If that MP had a money purchase scheme he understand that better as a legislator.

    Besides that I don’t feel MP’s are overpaid, I’m not coming from that angle on this.

  52. Robert Christopher
    Posted February 9, 2012 at 9:28 pm | Permalink

    Better get those printing presses working again!

    Oh, they already are! Good! After all, it’s never done anyone any harm, has it? :))

    “Leaders of more than 700,000 public sector workers made it clear they were not prepared to agree to planned higher contributions, lower pensions and longer retirement ages.”
    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/union-warns-of-new-pension-strike-6699550.html

  53. BobE
    Posted February 10, 2012 at 12:36 am | Permalink

    No public sector worker, council worker or Quango should earn more than the PM. All should be in money purchase schemes. This would seriously alter the mind set of these people. Life might become fair again. (each 100,000 in your pot gets you 500 a month)
    BobE

  54. AustinAmbassador
    Posted February 10, 2012 at 1:44 am | Permalink

    £420,000 is to be spent on a ‘Sculpture Trail’ for the Yorkshire Wolds to attract tourists to this previously unspoilt landscape.

    How a series of odd looking earth excavations and six benches cost just shy of half a million quid have never been explained to the rate payers of East Yorkshire. It seems all too typical of what happens when public bodies form committees that need to justify their own existence.

    It’s curious how these madcap kind of schemes get the go ahead when lollypop ladies and library’s always seem to be the first service to be cut.

    I can’t remember anyone saying ‘what we really need is a sculpture trail and more seating’ ..but plenty will complain about over subscribed schools,scruffy local hospitals and long waiting times to see a doctor. Why do we have to put up with this madness!

  55. Austin Ambassador
    Posted February 10, 2012 at 2:06 am | Permalink

    £420,000 is to be spent on a ‘Sculpture Trail’ for the Yorkshire Wolds to attract tourists to this previously unspoilt landscape.
    How a series of odd looking earth excavations and six benches cost just shy of half a million quid have never been explained to the rate payers of East Yorkshire. It seems all too typical of what happens when public bodies form committees that need to justify their own existence.
    It’s curious how these madcap kind of schemes get the go ahead when lollypop ladies and library’s always seem to be the first service to be cut.
    I can’t remember anyone saying ‘what we really need is a sculpture trail and more seating’ ..but plenty will complain about over subscribed schools,scruffy local hospitals and long waiting times to see a doctor. Why do we have to put up with this madness!

    Cuts cannot be made without adversely effecting front line services because either front line services are cut or they suffer because front line services rely on non-front line services.’

  56. Caterpillar
    Posted February 10, 2012 at 4:22 am | Permalink

    Slightly off topic but is it known whether any MPs at all agree with Frase Nelson’s QE piece in the Telegraph?

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/comment/9073196/Quantitative-easing-Pensioners-are-paying-the-price-for-Sir-Mervyns-funny-money.html

  57. Wolfhunter
    Posted February 11, 2012 at 8:22 am | Permalink

    The headline says it all. There is no will anywhere in the entire country to reduce the profligacy of the last 40 years. The creeping welfare has permeated every area. It is almost impossible to find anything that isn’t subsidized by the state. £72 bill subsidy on top of council rates? What is happening? How much does it need to collect garbage and fix a few potholes? Unemployment isn’t the only problem facing the UK. It’s also massive under employment. This is like the car industry in the 70s. A cast of thousands producing only a few shoddy cars that no one wanted to buy. Where is the productivity increases? Productivity has probably declined markedly, although there appears to be no measure of it.

  58. Chet
    Posted February 11, 2012 at 11:59 pm | Permalink

    Government borrowing yet another £120bn in next financial year. Overspending is still running widly out of control. Can’t be long before credit agencies give us a “B” rating (or worse). Our annual budget deficit (c. 11% of GDP) is worse than Greece (c.7% of GDP)

  • About John Redwood


    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, He graduated from Magdalen College Oxford, has a DPhil and is a fellow of All Souls College. 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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