Controlling public spending

The government has rightly confirmed that a successful economy requires sensible control of public spending and borrowing. The pressures that require more to be spent on schools and social care do not mean we can afford to relax public spending generally. Growth in the economy will generate more tax revenue to meet the needs of priority services for more money. Action still needs to be taken to remove less desirable public spending, to root out waste, and to run the public sector better.

Conscious that many readers here want to see financial discipline in the public sector, I am today writing about it to give you more opportunity to state what you think could be better done or removed from the budgets. In the middle of this current 5 year Parliament the state will no longer have to send the large gross and net contributions to the EU. From March 2019, assuming a sensible deal or no deal, we will no longer be sending that money to the EU. Of course the UK Parliament will wish to spend money on farming, universities and regional development where we were getting some of our money back from the EU. This will leave us around £12 bn of the net contribution to spend, as I explained with my suggested post leave budget before the referendum vote. This will take some of the pressures off.

There are many other areas to look at to save money. The government could press on more vigorously with its office and property rationalisation programme. It can initiate something for something pay deals to promote smarter working in return for higher pay. It can do more to cut its demands for fuel and other supplies.

I voted against HS2. It looks as if we are now committed to that expensive project. In the light of that the budget of Network Rail should be reviewed. Network Rail can improve efficiency, dispose of more property assets, and encourage more use of existing track to boost revenues. There are opportunities for getting more value for money from the railway budget.

The large overseas aid budget is pledged by Act of Parliament which this Parliament is unlikely to amend. There should be more scope to include as part of this budget the many costs the UK already incurs in helping low income countries and refugees. When our armed forces are undertaking humanitarian or peacekeeping work for a low income country all their costs doing that should be part of the overseas aid budget.

Introducing more Right to buy purchases by tenants of social housing would raise more private capital, to offset the housing budget. There are a range of public sector assets which could be sold as an alternative to additional borrowing.

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116 Comments

  1. Javelin
    Posted July 7, 2017 at 5:14 am | Permalink

    Housing benefits and subletting of council houses.
    You’ll find billions in fraud in London.

    • Hope
      Posted July 7, 2017 at 5:24 pm | Permalink

      Oh JR, the elephant is the overseas aid. Reported today nearly 3,000 people recruited to waste our taxes. The cost for the slaairies alone has gone up £6 million! Before pensions etc. Good grief man have you lot really lost the plot that much?

      Councils in need of urgent reform, the non-bean counting jobs are endless all brought about by govt lefty liberal agenda, questionnaires on ethnicity, point systems traffic light systems, layers of unnecessary management. Unitary authorities of a similar size with similar functions. Cap public sector pay at the top. This could cut across the police, fire service, NHS. Ministers need to understand their brief, get a grip and do something. Actually do something.

      Bonfire of quangos. Environment Agency does not serve a purpose if the council is now charging u and taking on its role for flood defence. One or the other not tax us two or three times for doing a poor job to implement anything.

      HMRC. Simplify tax, cut the numbers. You might recall the increase in staff under Osborne.

      Criminal justice system is not fit for purpose. It is a recruiting ground for gangs or extremists. Proper long term prison punishments for offences of personal harm, or plan for personal harm. This week alone we read so many people get off with manslaughter instead of murder. Change the law. Life sentences without parole for serious personal violence. Quick deportations, speedy trials for such people to cut the cost to the taxpayer.

      CBI, funded by EU, ranting on about long transition period and stay in the customs union etc. Like Hammond this is designed to keep us in the EU long enough to change our minds. No no no. This will cost us a fortune. Leave ASAP no transition needed or required. Specious devious behaviour trying to keep us in the EU.

      Cut number of MPs and Lords not required or necessary. These groups are setting a bad example to public sector who want equal treatment. Speaker only needs same pay as MP, the same for ministers. It should be an honour to serve not a gravy train. It is a part time job not requiring qualifications and being told what to do by the party.

      • Hope
        Posted July 7, 2017 at 5:34 pm | Permalink

        It is not too late to stop HS2, secret reports hidden from public because it is not value for money, fiddling, dopey contracts awarded, conflict of interest. Better to lose £80 million now than £80 billion!

        Put every military conflict, peace keeping force or help down to overseas aid. EU budget should be counted as overseas aid, after all it is being spent on infrastructure to former communist countries. A sixth of overseas aid is spent by the EU, £2 billion, without any say from any U.K. Politician!

        Scrap the Climat Change Act now and write a sensible energy strategy and policy to help commerce and privat citizens.

        Change the law on PFI even though it is rare to have reteospecive legislation this is one area which will help public sector budgets. No one should have ever entered such a ridiculous mind numbing stupid idea, even New Labour had the odd person with a brain.

    • Search me!
      Posted July 8, 2017 at 12:50 am | Permalink

      Javelin
      London Councils are on record of not knowing who their tenants are and even where their houses are located.. Unbelievable but true, that they teh Council actually own certain houses.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted July 9, 2017 at 8:22 pm | Permalink

      Charge market rent, then they would not sublet (as there would be no profit in subletting) and people would give the flats up sometimes. Why should some people get subsidised housing at the expense of others (often poorer) who do not?

      People get help with rent if they need it anyway.

  2. Dame Rita Webb
    Posted July 7, 2017 at 5:17 am | Permalink

    Stop non contributory benefits for other than the disabled. If you have not paid into the system you should not expect other tax payers to underwrite your lifestyle.

  3. Newmania
    Posted July 7, 2017 at 5:21 am | Permalink

    By net contribution I take it you mean net of our rebate , but this is not net of EU payments back to the UK which would ;leave about £6.5 billion according to that lefty rag the Daily Telegraph so that’s well under 1% of government spending and yet another lie
    Even the one or two rare economists who like Brexit a loss of growth of 1/2% predicted and many think it may be much much worse so it is clear Brexit will put additional pressure on public spending which has already been rescheduled to avert the crisis the referendum itself caused
    In this landscape with the Conservative Party having lost the support of business Liberal opinion , much of the media it seems highly likely that we will soon have a quasi-Marxist government

    God knows what damage will be done, Brexit may have been associated with Free Trade in the minds of a few odd bod tories but it wil be the most protectionist period of this country in my lifetime with the prospect of National Socialism speeding the end of NATO , a course Trump seems set on

    Never has the future looked so bleak

    Reply Cheer up. I mean net of payments

    • Anonymous
      Posted July 7, 2017 at 8:14 pm | Permalink

      We’ll have a quasi-Marxist government for the simple reason that the young fail to understand the one reason why they’re poor.

      EU migration has brought competition for their wages AND their housing.

      Instead they blame the old, whose only crime was to have voted to stop this.

  4. fedupsoutherner
    Posted July 7, 2017 at 5:31 am | Permalink

    Look at the Barnett formula, stop the green madness, simplify taxes, stop Hinckley and put in simpler nuclear facilities, stop giving out foreign aid like sweeties and get to grips with the feckless. Cut down the numbers in the Lords and in parliament too. Not much more to say really.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted July 7, 2017 at 3:37 pm | Permalink

      Indeed all obvious but they won’t do it as they are tax borrow and piss down the drain socialist at heart, May and Hammond certainly are.

      • fedupsoutherner
        Posted July 7, 2017 at 8:09 pm | Permalink

        LL Have to agree with you. Only tonight Mrs May is upset over Trump’s stance on the Paris agreement and will try to change his mind. Has she really lost the plot? I despair of this government. If I wanted a green government I would have voted for one. What is the matter with our politicians if they can’t see what damage they are doing to the country? We need change and pretty damn quickly.

    • getahead
      Posted July 7, 2017 at 6:42 pm | Permalink

      The country is top heavy in administration. Too many people hanging on to the apron strings of the taxpayer. Halve the number of people in the civil service, the ministries and any other paper pushing organisations. Then look at local government.
      Let people spend their own money.
      What happened to Cameron’s bonfire of the quangos?

  5. Posted July 7, 2017 at 5:45 am | Permalink

    Er John. What can I say. Controlling public expenditure is certainly necessary and is a vital function of government. But to do so in an arbitrary way driven by theology with no understanding of economics in the manner of Osborne, now largely continued by Hammond; is irresponsible. They do not seem to have noticed the economy is desperately in need of a boost.

    I also have absolutely no idea why this Govt keeps setting out ridiculous over ambitious targets to do various things then keeps missing them. Eliminating the deficit, migration in the 10ks , and rehousing the Grenfell residents to mention just three.

    No one with half a brain believes anything the government says any more about anything.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted July 7, 2017 at 3:40 pm | Permalink

      The best boost would be tax cuts, red tape cuts, simpler planning and large cuts in the size of the state.

  6. Peter Wood
    Posted July 7, 2017 at 5:45 am | Permalink

    Good Morning,

    2017/18 net payment to EU Budget: @ 10 Billion

    2017/18 aid budget: @ 12 Billion.

    2017/18 estimated budget deficit: @ 58 Billion

    Where are the fiscally responsible Tories?

  7. Mark B
    Posted July 7, 2017 at 5:53 am | Permalink

    Good morning.

    I believe the EU still have to look at our budgets. Unlike the other nations though, we are not bound by the Euro and strict fiscal policies. Thank God, Tarzan never became PM.

    More money does not translate into better services. Just more for those at the top. If there are inefficiencies in the Public Sector then it is up to government to either part, or all privatise.

    We also need to introduce referendums for non-defence projects that are likely to cost the taxpayer more than say £1bn. Let us decide what is in our best interests.

    End, or slowly phase out, all green subsidies. Encourage the use of cheaper fuels and more local (CHP) energy.

    Less government is more for the people.

  8. Duncan
    Posted July 7, 2017 at 6:03 am | Permalink

    I don’t want to see control of public spending, I want to see a REDUCTION of public spending! Spending less is not immoral. Spending less is not evil.

    The tories need to counter the left’s narrative of more State spending and yet from what I can see they refuse to do just that. What is the purpose of the tories then?

    Spending less is of course viewed by all politicians, from all sides, as politically unpopular and therefore politically damaging. Spending less is therefore never an option and the private sector is therefore expected to produce more capital value to finance the political spending of a political class who, let’s face it, couldn’t care less

    It is so important that your average private sector worker organises their affairs to protect against never ending demands from a political class, who when in government, will take more taxes and take again without a flicker of guilt or concern

  9. Bryan Harris
    Posted July 7, 2017 at 6:10 am | Permalink

    JR – Perhaps you could provide us with some statistics on how much is spent where

    For example, we know the NHS drugs bill is huge, but how nuch is it?

    First attack should be the 80/20 rule – look to the largest and reduce that first.

    The government should also:

    – encourage large companies to provide healthcare and medicines for their employees and families so that they do not need the NHS
    – find ways to cut the NHS drugs bill – drugs all too often are dispensd without due regard

    • getahead
      Posted July 7, 2017 at 6:52 pm | Permalink

      Google it Bryan.

  10. Andy Marlot
    Posted July 7, 2017 at 6:27 am | Permalink

    Yes your government is so committed to sensible control of public spending it is splashing money around like a drunken sailor in a brothel. What happened to eliminating the deficit?

  11. Roy Grainger
    Posted July 7, 2017 at 6:28 am | Permalink

    “In the middle of this current 5 year Parliament the state will no longer have to send the large gross and net contributions to the EU”

    Yes, let’s pretend that is true just for the moment.

    • Posted July 7, 2017 at 4:57 pm | Permalink

      Let us also pretend there will be no additional costs in transition to ex EU status and re engineering our economy. Let us further pretend that for some reason there will be no charge for participation in the 40 odd EU agencies or alternatively setting up own own organisation in lieu eg : We are leaving Euratom to mention just one big ticket item. But hey ho. Onward to the sunlight uplands we go.

    • getahead
      Posted July 7, 2017 at 6:54 pm | Permalink

      Have faith Roy.

  12. fedupsoutherner
    Posted July 7, 2017 at 6:31 am | Permalink

    Perhaps you should have a word in Sturgeon’s ear. She doles out millions to failed wave power projects and has recently given £2m to Kite Power in Scotland but this morning it is reported that teachers have been helping the poorer students with uniforms etc. Of course Sturgeon blames it all on Westminster. Perhaps thinking a little harder about where the money is spent might be better in the first place. We also hear that in England mental health services are suffering because the extra money given has not reached the front line. This is typical of the NHS. Throw as much money as you like at it but unless the whole structure is changed then it is just a waste. It is criminal what governments are doing with our money or should I say not doing.

  13. Sir Joe Soap
    Posted July 7, 2017 at 6:33 am | Permalink

    “I voted against HS2. It looks as if we are now committed to that expensive project.”

    That sums it up.

    You are never going to save money as a government if you accept that even white elephants are sacrosanct. Time for a Trump moment. Or the 5 whys.

  14. eeyore
    Posted July 7, 2017 at 6:37 am | Permalink

    A weak government without a majority is at the mercy of every MP with a project or a grievance. Even our host – no squandermaniac he – yesterday mentioned his lobbying on behalf of Wokingham schools.

    When government takes in tax the thick end of half the nation’s income and borrows more on top, it’s not easy to see why economy drives are necessary at all. Efficiency though – that’s another matter.

    I wish politicians would remember that for every £12 government spends or wastes someone has worked for an hour, and for every £1m their entire working life.

  15. MickN
    Posted July 7, 2017 at 6:46 am | Permalink

    “The large overseas aid budget is pledged by Act of Parliament which this Parliament is unlikely to amend.”

    I think that is the only comment that you need to make. Lets make sure we keep the Ethiopian Spice Girls in Prosecco and a couple of fleets of new cars to third world despots whilst our veterans have to sleep rough on the streets.

    • fedupsoutherner
      Posted July 7, 2017 at 4:39 pm | Permalink

      MickN Yes, and our citizens being told they will never get a house while we give priority to those coming in from other countries. A disgrace! What I have to say about this involves too many four letter words for you to print John.

    • Chris
      Posted July 7, 2017 at 9:32 pm | Permalink

      …and sick in hospital drink water out of flower vases…..

      • Hope
        Posted July 8, 2017 at 7:08 pm | Permalink

        While Burnham who was responsible becomes a mayor in Manchester that was rejected by the public! And JR talks about public spending or spending cuts! His party are introducing another layer of bureaucracy at our taxpayers’ expense even though the public stated it did not want mayors! JR is not being serious or he clearly has no influence over anything important. The govt appears clueless, lacks strategic vision, no conviction or belief in anything other than getting in power. No one knew what Cameron stood for, it is now clear the same applies to May and the other minsters in govt.

  16. Ian Wragg
    Posted July 7, 2017 at 7:22 am | Permalink

    Committed to HS2, foreign aid untouched, Hinckley Point going ahead.
    No serious effort to control spending.
    All this against a backdrop of failing schools and a creaking social care system. What a joke.
    Now the CBI wanting indefinite access to the single market and customs union.
    If you agree to that your toast.

  17. Posted July 7, 2017 at 7:23 am | Permalink

    It’s almost beyond belief that Corbyn is now 8% in the lead according to a new You Gov poll in the Times.

    There are so many holes in the Labour boat that it should be sinking without trace. Their policies simply don’t stand up to proper scrutiny.

    The Conservatives really have to come out fighting and make their case otherwise we will lose it by default. Once Labour establishes a regular lead in the polls, it will become very difficult for an incumbent government to turn the situation round.

    We know it is almost impossible for Labour to win an outright majority while it is still in full retreat in Scotland, but on current trends, a small improvement in the SNP position brings the nightmare possibility of a Corbyn/Sturgeon coalition.

    When the final Boundary Changes are made known in 2018 will the Government be able to get them through Parliament – especially the House of Lords ?

    If Tory Central Office doesn’t get its act together, the Boundary Changes might be the only thing that could keep Corbyn out of Downing Street.

  18. Brian Tomkinson
    Posted July 7, 2017 at 7:41 am | Permalink

    It is unacceptable that not only is overseas aid based on a %age of GDP and thereby increasing automatically, it is, as you write, pledged by Act of Parliament. No other government spending is so treated. This rather shows the hypocrisy of many MPs regarding public spending priorities. HS2 has always been a vanity project and colossal waste of taxpayers’ money. Both should be jettisoned or drastically reduced, but neither will.

  19. G Lynes
    Posted July 7, 2017 at 7:44 am | Permalink

    Spend it on improving our country, especially its infrastructure and capacity to facilitate business. So, roads, railways, airports, ports, fibre to premises broadband in all England (BT have been disgraceful). Also, spend it on a properly functioning military, which has been run down and under-equipped to beyond danger-point. That doesn’t mean perpetuating more admirals than ships; nor the system of ‘cuts’ where a senior officer is promoted, gets a rise in pensionable pay, accepts a leaving service package, sets up a private company and contracts back to the military that he just ‘left’. Try not to spend it on increased pay and benefits, the recipients of which acquire a sense of entitlement and resistance to future limitation or reduction.

  20. Edward2
    Posted July 7, 2017 at 7:55 am | Permalink

    Jacob Rees-Mogg was excellent on Question Time Thursday evening.
    He explained that there were three choices for voters when they say they want more state spending on numerous things.
    More taxation or more borrowing or (as he favoured) a reallocation from existing spending plans.
    There is another way he missed off, which is to use the extra revenue created from economic growth.

    • Owl
      Posted July 8, 2017 at 1:01 am | Permalink

      Yes .Jacob Rees-Mogg was excellent on Question Time. The half head leader of the Greens Party wasn’t. I fear ever being stranded to her Constituency overnight. One fears at midnight there will be streams of the population prancing through the streets with effigies of Woden and prepared sacrifices of billie goats.

      • Edward2
        Posted July 8, 2017 at 7:49 am | Permalink

        It won’t be goats because nearly all her voters are vegetarian

  21. A.Sedgwick
    Posted July 7, 2017 at 7:55 am | Permalink

    One of the better radio programmes for me was “The Briefing Room” and I looked forward to last’s episode “Austerity”. It was a major disappointment, after 15 minutes of patronising waffle I had the misfortune to be made aware of Ann Pettifor, someone new to me in the world of barmy economics. It would be very revealing for our host to debate her in a longer version.

  22. A.Sedgwick
    Posted July 7, 2017 at 7:56 am | Permalink

    last night’s

  23. DaveM
    Posted July 7, 2017 at 7:57 am | Permalink

    Any chance you could have a chat with Mr Hammond?

  24. Bert Young
    Posted July 7, 2017 at 8:06 am | Permalink

    Keeping tight fingers on Government expenditure is what every sensible person wants . Wherever there is wastage it has to be cut out ; the cost of the public sector is enormous and every department ought to be made to cut back . 2% of GDP should not be spent on Foreign Aid – more often than not aid gets into the wrong hands and produces no benefit to this country ( the disclosure of monies sent to North Korea was stupid and could well assist in blowing us up !).

    In the run up to Brexit every indication from the EU is about “fining and punishing us”, this must not happen and we must not give in to blackmail . They will certainly want to bleed us dry in order to pay for their insidious wastage of central funds ; we should not pay one penny unless their auditors are prepared to sign off their accounts . The allocation of these funds could be allocated to care for the elderly and pay extra to schools and the NHS .

  25. sm
    Posted July 7, 2017 at 8:09 am | Permalink

    I have got to the age of cynicism (over 70), and in my personal experience and from all the considerable amount of history I have read during my life, I believe ALL governments, whether those of a single regal ruler, a dictator, an oligarchy or a democratically-elected body, contract a contagious disease called super-hyper-overspenderitis.

    Is it over-weening ambition, stupidity, cupidity? All of those things, presumably, and sadly I don’t think there will ever be a cure.

    • rose
      Posted July 7, 2017 at 2:15 pm | Permalink

      Henry VII ?

  26. Richard1
    Posted July 7, 2017 at 8:19 am | Permalink

    The debate on public sector pay highlights the astonishing extent to which Mrs May’s year as PM and disasterous election campaign has handed the initiative to the magic money tree Corbynite Marxists. Labour politicians, even moderate ones, now feel no need to pay even lip service to the need to get rid of the deficit. This is because Mrs May assisted by her two poisonous advisers spent their time ignoring or even trashing the (quite) successful record of the Coalition / Conservative government in restoring economic stability after another Labour economic crisis, and focused on drivel like energy price caps and other Labour-lite policies. Somehow or other Conservative MPs as a body need to find a way to reestablish the Party as the party of economic stability, free enterprise, free trade, low taxes, etc. We are a very long way from that now. The damage done in just a year since Mrs May’s election is extraordinary.

    I saw her on PMQs the other day – she was quite good. But this was the first time she has focused on the key issue of the Tory economic record and the catastrophe that Corbyn would be. We heard none of that in the election.

  27. Mockbeggar
    Posted July 7, 2017 at 8:24 am | Permalink

    There is a small railway station near where live with a rather nice Victorian Station Master’s house. It has been empty for years. Given the fact that it is right next to the ‘up’ platform it would be perfect for a commuter. Trains stop every hour so it is not exactly noisy.

    I cannot understand why Network Rail doesn’t just put it on the market instead of boarding it up and leaving it to rot. I bet this is happening all over the country.

  28. margaret
    Posted July 7, 2017 at 8:29 am | Permalink

    Perhaps you could give us an idea of the public assets which have the potential to be sold off. On the whole I am against selling off. Once you lose national power you are unlikely to retrieve it .

    RBS, surplus land and buildings

    • anon
      Posted July 8, 2017 at 4:53 pm | Permalink

      BBC

  29. BigD
    Posted July 7, 2017 at 8:29 am | Permalink

    As well as looking to improve efficiencies & get more value for money from the railway budget, similar scrutiny is needed on the major energy projects that are the legacy of Ed Davey’s time as Secretary of State.

    In the light of Grenfell, there is a need for a full inspection of exactly who is living in social housing & the level of illegal sub-letting & overcrowding and until this is addressed & action taken against those abusing the system, there should be no right to buy sale of social housing in London & other major cities, but there should be greatly increased construction of social housing in London & the south-east in order to reduce the overall housing benefit bill, with stronger control over who gets access to the new social housing, based on residency & employment.

    More money also needs to be put into the Border Force, which is clearly not fit for purpose currently, & broadening the ‘system of residency registration’ beyond what is being proposed for EU citizens wishing to remain after Brexit to include all foreign nationals. The government needs to be much more robust in its legal stance/challenges in all areas, from illegal migrants & removals to defending our armed forces against ambulance chasing lawyers, as the UK is universally seen as a soft touch.

  30. Michael
    Posted July 7, 2017 at 8:35 am | Permalink

    A big part of the challenge is to explain public finances to the man and woman in the street in terms that are easy to understand. Endless talk of debt and deficit are not helpful.

    Mrs T talked of family income and the weekly shopping basket.

    Make it simple and demonstrate common sense.

    • Sir Joe Soap
      Posted July 7, 2017 at 7:04 pm | Permalink

      Easier said than done now that debt without collateral is taken for granted.

    • Bright eye
      Posted July 8, 2017 at 1:11 am | Permalink

      Michael
      Most people you might lump together as “the man and woman in the street” actually do understand basic economics. Many prefer Labour’s Santa Claus letter. Rightly or wrongly they conclude, from their own experience that “Whoever is in power” makes little difference.in the long-run. Many of my family have indeed been made redundant under Labour and Tory governments.

  31. Anonymous
    Posted July 7, 2017 at 8:37 am | Permalink

    If Parliament can’t cut the foreign aid budget when we are cladding tower blocks in cheap, lethal materials and if Parliament can’t secure the borders at a time of a migration/population crisis then we don’t need Parliament.

    It is just a hugely expensive debating club.

    All talk of budgets and economies is fantasy if we don’t know how many people are going to be here.

    The purpose of such talk is to give the impression of control when there clearly isn’t any.

  32. Anonymous
    Posted July 7, 2017 at 8:39 am | Permalink

    “…some of our money back from the EU. This will leave us around £12 bn of the net contribution to spend”

    Minus any losses owing to the adverse effects to businesses through Brexit. Sensible Leavers understand that there will have to be adjustments.

  33. Posted July 7, 2017 at 8:50 am | Permalink

    The NHS costs of non-EU citizens who have health treatment in this country and don’t have insurance should be charged to foreign aid. At least that way it would be spent, not end up in some foreign dictator’s Swiss bank account.

    • anon
      Posted July 8, 2017 at 5:02 pm | Permalink

      Any expenditures on non verified UK citizens should be recovered from the overseas budget.
      1) health
      2)housing
      3) basic food assistance
      4) any other expenditure or other word dreamt up by the public service to facilitate the misinformation.
      5)the border force should be funded from the overseas budget, those countries unwilling to facillitate and co-operate should lose all aid.

  34. Epikouros
    Posted July 7, 2017 at 9:07 am | Permalink

    The government is not the right body generally to decide how the public spends it’s income and wealth that privileged rightly belongs to the individual. Certainly there are times when forced appropriation through taxes of our income and wealth can be justified. However they should be exceptions rather than the rule. They are not so now government who have no motivation or incentive to tax and spend wisely controls and decides how we spend a very large proportion of our money.

    The results being the growth of crony capitalism by wasteful support of favoured producers and causes and vested interests. Investment in non productive vanity projects so denying the private sector investment that can be used productively. Socialising debt public and private so as to bind future generations into having to commit even more of their income and wealth to service it and pay it off.

    Some of the government spending is well intended. Important is that we do have access to healthcare, protection from those who would do harm to our person or property, financial assistance for times when through no fault of our own we cannot support ourselves and some other things that as a caring society we are obliged to ensure. Government role certainly is to help us facilitate such actions but not make the choice as to what we subscribe to or provide the means of attaining them.

  35. Duncan
    Posted July 7, 2017 at 9:08 am | Permalink

    More importantly is this:

    The CBI is trying desperately to frustrate and even reverse Brexit by arguing for a timeless transition period and then hoping for a change in the ‘public mood’, though how this mood would be determined is conveniently ignored

    It is so important that patriotic conservative MP’s impose themselves before democracy is undermined and even ignored

    The EU referendum result must be respected and implemented in full

    We want our country back, its democracy, its sovereignty, our independence, its laws and its soul

  36. The Prangwizard
    Posted July 7, 2017 at 9:10 am | Permalink

    Selling assets does not improve operational efficiency. Effort is diverted and those doing the selling think they are ever so clever but the underlying problem remains. The economic argument favoured by Mr Redwood of sell, sell sell means we as a nation end up owning nothing.

    Our businesses are owned and operated by foreign interesrs and all excess profit is sent ovrseas.

  37. agricola
    Posted July 7, 2017 at 9:17 am | Permalink

    Overseas Aid must be a dreadfully constructed piece of legislation if there is not means of capping it. If what you say is true it can grow ad infinitum. I suspect not, because if you can give it to the MOD on debatable grounds you could also give it to our schools to enable them to teach English and British values to the vast array of immigrant children you have encouraged for the past 30 years or so.

    The net £12 billion we will not be spending on the EU could be used to relieve tax on small and medium sized companies. The object being to encourage investment and ultimately generate more business. Tie the relief to investment.

    You might consider buying a box of matches and igniting that yet to be seen bonfire of quangoes, better known as deniable responsibility for ministers and their departments.

  38. Tom William
    Posted July 7, 2017 at 9:21 am | Permalink

    Almost exactly the same arguments for building Concorde were made as our now made for HS2. It was over budget, never made a profit over costs and, although a technological masterpiece, was a white elephant. HS2 will quickly be obsolete, possibly before full installation.

    It will also be paid for by the taxpayer. There are far more cost effective ways of spending that money.

  39. Ron
    Posted July 7, 2017 at 9:53 am | Permalink

    Why not cover the NHS costs of non-UK-nationals as a first charge from the Overseas Aid budget?

  40. Nig l
    Posted July 7, 2017 at 9:57 am | Permalink

    Who knows what is needed at an operational level but one thing is certain, namely that the Public Sector and, because currently it is in your hands, you, have lost the trust of vast swathes of the public who view it with real cynicism especially as they are taxed so highly to pay for what they see as large amounts of waste and inefficiency.

    No 10 has recently appointed an excellent Director of Communication who will be helped no doubt by having a brother as an MP who can brief him on grass root feeling.

    His narrative to counter the cuts agenda, should be that any time a Minister or MP talks about this subject, the words productivity, value for money, efficiency are stressed with, if possible, more for less figures quoted. This create clear water between you and Labour at the same time promoting traditional conservative values. If you then created a high profile job with support to identify these efficiencies, you might get the public back on your side.

  41. James Neill
    Posted July 7, 2017 at 9:59 am | Permalink

    There are retired public servants and others in this country getting pensions valued at way above their needs. Here i’m talking about pensions that are paid out of the public purse. I realize that the pensions area is sensitive but when they were first introduced way back in Roman times the idea was that old retired soldiers etc would have enough to live on and keep body and soul together. pensions were not meant to be like winning the lottery every year. My point being that there should be a cap on the amounts people can get way on into their old age so that the excess unspent doesn’t mount up to be left to another generation who never earned it in the first place..and please don’t give me the old story about property rights.

    • Dame Rita Webb
      Posted July 7, 2017 at 3:55 pm | Permalink

      Public sector pensions are already clamped by things like the lifetime and annual contribution allowances. For some reason this does not apply to MPs though. It also spectacularly backfires with the retention of doctors and specialist medics. If you are having problems in getting an appointment it is probably because many have decided to leave the NHS early rather than have their pension fund raided by the HMRC. Another malign effect of ZIRP low interest rates make it easy to quickly accumulate a million pounds fund.

      reply The pension tax rules of course apply to MPs

  42. forthurst
    Posted July 7, 2017 at 10:06 am | Permalink

    “Introducing more Right to buy purchases by tenants of social housing would raise more private capital, to offset the housing budget.”

    What is the proportion of council accommodation that has been sold at a below market value, subsidised by taxpayers, which then becomes private rental accommodation rented back to the local authority at a higher rent than the cost of new built accommodation including interest? In my area, very high. The money supply can be expanded to accommodate the size of economy that can absorb it: capital is not really an issue.

    Here’s another way the Tories could become more popular: be more patriotic. Or do they look forward to the time when as alluded by Anonymous yesterday we will become ‘Ancient Egyptians’ ruled over by a super-race of people who are not in point English, in fact not, in pointof fact, European?

  43. gyges01
    Posted July 7, 2017 at 10:08 am | Permalink

    “Introducing more Right to buy purchases by tenants of social housing would raise more private capital, to offset the housing budget. ”

    If (i) housing benefit bought equity in the property rather than simply paid rent, and (ii) if an individual could force a sale of the house if the council had a greater than fifty per cent equitable stake in the property then the price of houses would fall increasing their availability and the council could use their released equity on other houses (or build social housing).

  44. bigneil
    Posted July 7, 2017 at 10:16 am | Permalink

    We have cuts to the Police, cuts to services from councils, etc, now 3 local hospitals are looking at closing their dementia wards. Yet with an announced population growth of about 1/3 million due to immigration annually ( actually much larger ) that works out about a thousand a day ( makes it a nice round figure). All entitled to walk straight into a doctors/hospital and WE have to pay. Those who bring their family want their kids schooled. WE pay. They get housed. WE pay. They throw their rubbish out – WE pay.
    The govt is robbing Peter to give free lives to Ahmed and Mtobi – and all their extended families – who are turning out to NOT be Surgeons, Scientists, Engineers etc.
    It is completely senseless and unsustainable. Why does our own govt clearly hate us and are going to destroy us – completely. Not many of us want to go and live in a 3rd world so why are you bringing the 3rd world here for us to pay for and live among?

    • fedupsoutherner
      Posted July 7, 2017 at 8:16 pm | Permalink

      Well said Bigneil. The Tories are going to be lucky to get in again at this rate. Absolute nonsense is being legislated for at the moment. What has happened to politics in this country? It’s gone to the dogs.

    • Anonymous
      Posted July 7, 2017 at 8:18 pm | Permalink

      You’ve hit the nail on the head.

      We are discussing things as though mass immigration is not happening. It’s insane.

      My typical town is doing the same. Closing down clinics and factories whilst building houses and shipping people in.

  45. Oggy
    Posted July 7, 2017 at 10:34 am | Permalink

    Dear Dr. Redwood you already know what most of us here think about the enormous and scandalous Foreign Aid budget. To have it enshrined in law was ludicrous and we have Nick Clegg et al to thank for it. It should be repealed ASAP but Mrs May agrees with supporting this Aid as could be seen in her answer to the MP for Shipley during PM’s questions a couple of weeks ago.
    Supposedly it is to help the world’s poorest but realistically how much ends up in corrupt Foreign government’s back pockets. Why do we give money to India when they even have their own Space programme ?
    US charity International Rescue in New York gets £3.6million of British aid while its president David Miliband receives a salary of £530,000. (jobs for the boys)
    Not to mention Priti Patel’s department has seen an increase of 40% in salaries since 2010.

    http://www.express.co.uk/news/uk/823568/Foreign-aid-budget-civil-servants-wages-increase

    Really there is a lot of ‘Mickey taking’ going on regarding Foreign aid, does the Government realise how unpopular it is with the general public ?

    • fedupsoutherner
      Posted July 7, 2017 at 8:17 pm | Permalink

      No Oggy, they don’t realise how unpopular foreign aid is because they are completely out of touch with the people. This is the problem with the UK today. They only want to listen to their own kind.

  46. ian
    Posted July 7, 2017 at 10:39 am | Permalink

    They already sold well over 100 billion of assets, i will just wait to see what the thicko do.

  47. Lifelogic
    Posted July 7, 2017 at 10:54 am | Permalink

    When the Government cancel HS2, Hinkley C, the enforced gender pay reporting, the 15% stamp duty, the misguided apprenticeship scheme, tackle the death causing NHS, the taxation of non profits on property rentals and all the green crap subsidies perhaps I might accept they are actually starting to try to control public spending and their red tape lunacy. Until then I will just assume they are tax, borrow and piss down the drain, big state socialists.

    Better that Corbyn certainly, but not by very much at all. Certainly not “low tax” not even low tax at heart.

    • Chris
      Posted July 7, 2017 at 6:45 pm | Permalink

      You are right, Lifelogic. Why can’t they see this?

  48. Robin Wilcox
    Posted July 7, 2017 at 11:47 am | Permalink

    The Foreign Aid budget needs to be drastically cut. Our own public services are more important. It will also be a vote winner except for the Liberals and Left who would not be voting Conservative anyway. Then let’s see how well pledging to spend extra £ billions on foreign aid goes down with the electorate

  49. Julian
    Posted July 7, 2017 at 12:09 pm | Permalink

    Numerous quangos do next to nothing productive except keep down the unemployment figures – maybe that’s the point. I know from personal experience that if you report an e-commerce fraud to Action Fraud all they do is put it in their stats*.
    Then theres the whole charity scam – many of the big charities with swanky London offices are mainly government funded not funded by donations. Why is there no outcry about the huge salaries of these “charity” workers. (giving to small local charities is better to me).

    *Remit of Action Fraud:Action Fraud is the UK’s national reporting centre for fraud and cyber crime, and takes crime and information reports on behalf of the police and gives advice and fraud prevention guidance. Action Fraud does not have investigation powers, however, the reports taken by Action Fraud are sent to the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau (NFIB)

  50. Bruce Knight
    Posted July 7, 2017 at 12:19 pm | Permalink

    The Uk’s EU contribution, £10bn net, is pretty much irrelevant to UK public spending which runs at £772bn per year. A giant red herring in the whole debate around both EU membership and public spending.

    • ian wragg
      Posted July 7, 2017 at 4:45 pm | Permalink

      It’s also 15% of the deficit so it has to be borrowed. We get nothing in return and it is an effective 7% tariff on our EU exports.

  51. Posted July 7, 2017 at 12:23 pm | Permalink

    More public sector sales please, the less Govt owns the better.

  52. Ben Gallagher
    Posted July 7, 2017 at 12:23 pm | Permalink

    Dear John,

    In my humble opinion, the size of the overseas budget is a complete disgrace and shows up the politicians in parliament that continue to sanction this as holding the general British public in contempt. Many of us are struggling with inflation (thanks to the B.O.E.) eating into our earnings, tax rises eating into our earnings and yet we have a government content to carrying on giving billions and billions away overseas. The average member of the public is left asking, who does the government care more about, it’s own voters who pay it’s massive salary, or corrupt regimes overseas?

    I’ll make a bet with you that during this parliament (i.e. in the next 5 years), the government will buckle regarding this overseas aid budget. Let’s assume there’s a recession during that period (quite likely) – how do you think the public are going to react if the government continues to ring fence this? Are you aware that if the Conservatives had put a manifesto pledge to slash foreign aid by 50% and spend it on the NHS or schools – or even better tax cuts – or simply lowering the deficit, you’d have won by a country mile.

    Why not slash foreign aid and use it to offer free university education – I’d like to see the Labour party and BBC try and attack that policy only to see it blow up in their faces.

  53. Lifelogic
    Posted July 7, 2017 at 12:45 pm | Permalink

    The attacks that seem to be coming on the gig economy are hugely misguided. Why on earth did May and Hammond set up the Taylor report under lefty Taylor? Well we know they saw it as another back door way to increase taxes. It will actually just destroy jobs, productivity and probably reduce the tax take too.

  54. Pat
    Posted July 7, 2017 at 12:50 pm | Permalink

    Perhaps some of our overseas aid could be directed to poorer countries that agree to dismantle trade barriers. The aid helps them immediately. The free trade helps them grow out of poverty. When they have grown out of poverty they will become good customers.
    Rinse and repeat as countries become rich.

  55. Mitchel
    Posted July 7, 2017 at 12:59 pm | Permalink

    From John Julius Norwich’s “History of Byzantium”re the reign of Emperor Anastasius:-

    “Now in his early sixties,he had a reputation for uprightness and integrity.”Reign,Anastasius”the people shouted when he first appeared before them in the imperial purple.”Reign as you have lived!”.Anastasius did so;and if his subjects found life under his rule more irksome than they had expected,they had only themselves to blame.His chief defect was parsimoniousness-a failing which,combined with a strong puritanical streak,made Constantinople a duller place to live in than ever before.Contests with wild beasts were forbidden;citizens were no longer permitted to hold nocturnal feasts,on the grounds that they led to unbridled licentiousness-which indeed they very often did.Meanwhile his campaign against unnecessary public expenditure was finally to leave the imperial treasury richer by 320,000 pounds of gold”.

    So,”reign Anastasius,reign as you have lived”and skip the beasts and save the gold.Only slight problem is that it would take the absolute powers of a Byzantine Emperor to cut public spending here.So,on we go….

    The Empire survived a further 900 years after Anastasius,will we?!

  56. Prigger
    Posted July 7, 2017 at 1:12 pm | Permalink

    Juncker and Tusk are jubilant in signing a “free” trade deal with Japan and more or less gesticulating the EU cuts the mustard. The UK’s relationship with Japan began in 1600.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted July 7, 2017 at 3:15 pm | Permalink

      They haven’t actually signed an EU-Japan free trade deal, as explained here:

      http://facts4eu.org/news_jul_2017.shtml#japan

      Insofar as there is now a provisional political agreement on the outlines of a future trade deal, it would be quite interesting to have some official estimates of the future overall economic benefits to each side. So far I have only found partial information, but that suggests that the overall economic effects will be very marginal.

      Another interesting aspect is whether as part of this future trade deal Japan will have to agree to the almost unfettered freedom of movement of persons required by the EU single market as one of its indivisible “four freedoms”, so that every citizen of the EU countries would have the automatic right to migrate to Japan, and vice versa with the entire body of Japanese citizens entitled to move to the EU.

      The answer to that is “no”; there will be some loosening of “Mode 4” rules, but that will amount to small numbers of usually temporary foreign residents:

      http://trade.ec.europa.eu/doclib/docs/2017/july/tradoc_155693.doc.pdf

      “The Agreement includes provisions on movement of natural persons for business purposes (“mode 4”). They cover all traditional categories of mode 4 service providers (such as intra-corporate transferees, business visitors for investment purposes, contractual service suppliers, independent professionals) plus two additional profiles that the EU has committed in CETA, namely short term
      business visitors and investors. In addition, the Agreement includes a Protocol with procedural commitments concerning the entry of service providers in the territory of the Parties. This covers issues such as fees or processing times for entry applications. Finally, Japan and the EU commit to allow the entry of family dependants (spouses or children) of mode 4 service suppliers.”

    • ian wragg
      Posted July 7, 2017 at 4:49 pm | Permalink

      It won’t be effective for at least a decade if it ever gets ratified.

      • rose
        Posted July 7, 2017 at 8:43 pm | Permalink

        More EU propaganda – to show up Trump as protectionist and the EU as Free Traders! “Our European values” as Frau Merkel might say. Sad that so many of our own people fall for this sort of thing.

  57. Labrador puppy
    Posted July 7, 2017 at 1:38 pm | Permalink

    Canada added 45,300 jobs last month well above the estimated 10,000. The USA is advancing in jobs creation too and importantly in job participation. The omens look good for the UK if we can also wipe off the BBC economic negativity from our rear.

    • Dame Rita Webb
      Posted July 7, 2017 at 3:42 pm | Permalink

      Before you get carried away by the jobs report. Those new jobs in America are mostly of the low skill low pay variety or involve working for the state. The number of hours worked is not much to be proud of either.

      Despite what JR might want you to believe there is no real recovery in either the UK or America. If there was, after nearly ten years, we should still not have abnormally low interest rates. While the banks would be valuing their assets on a “mark to market basis” and not giving their regulator a fantasy figure.

  58. miami.mode
    Posted July 7, 2017 at 1:44 pm | Permalink

    Student loans total around £13bn per year and with current interest rates may quadruple in 30 years if nothing is repaid.

    Government obviously borrows this amount but is it included in the deficit or is it listed as an asset with the outstanding balance due in 2047?

    The current vogue is to tell people that we do not want to saddle them with large government debts in the future, but are we misleading them?

    • Sir Joe Soap
      Posted July 7, 2017 at 6:59 pm | Permalink

      Yes, another Blair-era disaster. Send kids on non-courses, give them a non-repayable “loan”, which is of course then off balance sheet for the government. Government happy to keep unemployment down, naïve kid/parent happy, public sector uni employees happy with a gravy-train job. The taxpayer only realises they are on the hook many years later, when the “loan” is still there, but Blair, Cameron & Co are long gone.

    • Just His
      Posted July 8, 2017 at 1:26 am | Permalink

      Whoever it is who compels 18 year olds to go to University should be stopped. They are allowed to vote, join the army, navy, and fight and die for their country. They should be allowed therefore to choose whether they get into debt of not.

  59. Peejos
    Posted July 7, 2017 at 2:31 pm | Permalink

    Bearing in mind Parkinson’s proposal that a civil servant could benefit from explaining why a colleague’s job was unnecessary, why not examine why certain ministries exist? Closing one or two would have a permanent reduction in pay, pension and other staff costs and release real estate. Not only that but a cabinet minister and his opposition would not be a drain in a number of directions

    Now why is there a Ministry for Sport? The major sports are mega businesses which can and do look after themselves ~ consider the pay and rewards of those involved. If people wish to play tennis then let them, but at their cost

    Why is there a Minister for the Arts? The need for subsidies for exhibitions, performances and theatres, etc. is not set against any realistic yardstick, but an arbitrary long established and out of date formula.

    Why not adopt Parkinson’s proposal everywhere in Central and Local Government? It would cost nothing and sharpen a few acts up nationally.

  60. a-tracy
    Posted July 7, 2017 at 2:38 pm | Permalink

    You have got to get a grip of Welfare spending but in a compassionately conservative way.

    The first area I’d look at is mobility cars, I know so many women who have a car who don’t even drive and their children get cheap brand new motors. What % of the population have mobility cars now compared to those that used to have mobility cars in the 1980’s, how have we got so ill with the National Health Service, constant information about good health and eating, exercise etc. When on holiday I saw two seat (one behind the other) small electric cars, we should be able to make these cars in the UK, in car plants that may get emptied with all the threats we’re receiving currently) these cars should then have recharging points on disabled parking bays and all but those requiring wheelchairs should have them, we should lead in the manufacture of them if the steering wheel is in the middle of the car then it could be used on the right or left of the road ready for export. It’s a shame Dyson isn’t into making cars.

    All large council house areas should be building one bedroomed retirement apartments to free up large council houses (the apartments should have come first and then you can’t complain about the bedroom subsidy – obviously disabled carer need apartments must be created on the ground floors). This will cut down on bills, improve communities, regenerate schools that are now in the wrong areas because people’s families have grown up and new families can’t move in and if they are placed near the town centre aid mobility and access to shopping and facilities.

    • fedupsoutherner
      Posted July 7, 2017 at 8:24 pm | Permalink

      A-Tracy Yes, and providing disability cars for parents who have disabled children who then lay their backsides in bed and we pay for taxis to get those children to school. I know so many people who are not disabled but who park their flash upmarket mobility cars in the disabled bays of the supermarket and then sprint around the store as well as any other person. The whole system stinks.

  61. BrexiteerwivMusket
    Posted July 7, 2017 at 2:54 pm | Permalink

    The economic figures coming out of the EU don’t seem to hang together. I noted they were beaming about car sales within the Eurozone. So, I looked at major companies in Europe dealing with spare parts thinking that given old and new cars changng hands there would be an upstick in early sentiment if not an early follow-through in increased sales and profit. No.
    The share prices have gone down and no broker upgrades. Perhaps all is not what it seems.
    I believe our government and Local Government should keep tight budgets and expect as Osborne always said he did, a downturn. coming out of the blue. The less we owe as a nation: the better.

  62. Kenneth
    Posted July 7, 2017 at 2:55 pm | Permalink

    Where does one start?

    How about scrapping nationally administered benefits and replacing them with a local hardship fund, administered by parish councils?

    How about bringing a voluntary corps into the NHS. I think a national health service is a good thing and I have nothing against people making a profit from the sick (it’s been done for 1,000’s of years) but why does every nook & cranny need to be professional? There are plenty of people, both retired or younger and eager to help who could carry out basic housekeeping tasks or triage services.

    How about doing what any large corporation must do every now and again and carry out some pruning? Empire builders love to make a case for ever increasing budgets using dodgy businesses cases. Let’s prune back the management. Start by looking looking at the guest list at some corporate work-time shindig (usually complete with pointless speeches and a B-list comedian) and sack the attendees. If they can afford to take time off for a jolly I doubt they were needed in the first place.

    I could go on but it is pointless while the media is so lop-sided by the massive BBC and its constant pressure to increase the size of the public sector.

    No solutions to poor public sector productivity and a very expensive state sector can be contemplated while the BBC is pushing its political propaganda.

    The only time the BBC refers to “taxpayers’ money” is when they talk about the Queen’s settlement. Any other time, taxpayers’ money is an “investment” as part of another dodgy business case. BBC Fake News.

    • rose
      Posted July 7, 2017 at 8:40 pm | Permalink

      The Crown Estates, from which her income derives, are not “taxpayers’ money”. And the Treasury keeps most of the Crown revenue. A good example of BBC fake news, and just the sort of subject they should be educating the public on, not deceiving them.

  63. outsider
    Posted July 7, 2017 at 3:40 pm | Permalink

    Dear Mr Redwood,
    Public spending is dominated by four elements: health (mainly NHS), means-tested welfare payments, uncapped social security (mainly state pension) and education. None of these has been cut. Debt interest is high and rising. Unfunded net public sector pension payments are forecast to rise by 35 per cent by 2021-22. As a result, most other areas and departments have indeed suffered severe austerity.
    You are right that continuous efficiency savings and smarter working should be a permanent everyday feature of any state activity but in the areas subject to austerity the proceeds are probably needed to improve or restore services (eg policing) rather than cut overall spending.
    Significant shifts can only be achieved by cutting the big four. To state the obvious, all these four budgets are driven by poverty: there seem to be many more “poor” people than ever before. The long run solution to excessive public spending is to raise the pre-tax real incomes of the poorest quarter of the population.
    Meanwhile, the best way to control these budgets without constant penny-pinching “crises” is to limit and reduce their functions.
    The NHS should be limited to maternity care and treating and caring for people who are actually ill. All the other worthwhile, civilised things it does should be charged for, left to the private sector or charity funding (as in eye or dental care).
    A double lock on the state old-age pension is quite adequate. The winter fuel payment can be converted into 53rd week of basic pension, saving admin and making it taxable.
    Schools should be for teaching only, not social care, axing those dead, end-of- term days so that teachers can refresh and upgrade outside term time.

    In other words, if you want genuine cuts, follow the money.

  64. Biggles High Flyer
    Posted July 7, 2017 at 3:40 pm | Permalink

    Without the slightest indication or clue of what or how or in what tone G20 Leaders are discussing matters, Sky News at 16.30 hours today says in immediate advance of its own analysis: “We will ask ..is this the most fractious G20 summit ever? ” Then it cut to a commercial break. The adverts were professional and logical anyway. Sky News is well on its way to becoming as worthless as the BBC.

  65. Christine
    Posted July 7, 2017 at 4:06 pm | Permalink

    “The government could press on more vigorously with its office and property rationalisation programme.” Have you seen the damage this has done to small towns? Well I have. In my area we have lost thousands of jobs. Large cheap government accommodation has been sold off to the private sector, it has then been demolished to make way for housing. The jobs have gone to Manchester, Leeds, Sheffield and Newcastle. Hardly areas offering low cost staff and accommodation.

    Regarding our EU contributions – remember you will need extra Civil Servants to take over the jobs currently done by the EU and also to build up areas like trade, fisheries, revenue and customs. As you will need experience I suggest you stop staff taking early retirement in their 50s like they do now. Set up these expanded departments in the towns in the north of England where you can employ good staff and the accommodation costs are much lower.

    I do think that the Government should be tackling waste to free up money rather than raising taxes. They could start by reforming the House of Lords. MPs complain about the bureaucracy in Brussels but allow the bloated HoLs to continue eating public money unchecked. Why do we have the second largest second chamber in the World? In a period of austerity it is an anathema that many of these people earn good money for doing so little.

    A subject you don’t seem to mention is the investment that is required to build up our fishing fleet again. Sixty years ago Fleetwood, near where I live, had 120 trawlers and the industry employed thousands of local people and now it has no trawlers left. What is the point of regaining our fishing grounds when we don’t have the trawlers, fishermen or processing plants to catch and handle the fish? We will look pretty stupid if we win something back then find we aren’t in a position to use it.

    I hope some part of the Brexit team is looking at what investment and training for the future is required.

    Why should tenants in social housing get subsidised rents and be able to buy their homes at a discount when those in private rentals get nothing? This system is totally unfair. What you should be doing is setting social rent at market value then giving those who can’t afford it a top up with housing benefit. This would encourage those tenants with higher earnings to move out thereby freeing up council homes for those on lower earnings which is who it was intended for. It would also stop the common practise of sub-letting which councils seem to turn a blind eye to.

    Hold a referendum on Foreign Aid and see what the people think should happen to their money. Switzerland holds referendums all the time and their country works very well. It will be difficult for politicians to go against the will of the people as we have seen with Brexit. It seems to me that the majority of honest hard working people in this country know what needs to be done whereas politicians just make one daft decision after another.

  66. Bert Young
    Posted July 7, 2017 at 4:12 pm | Permalink

    John , It’s 5.15pm and still not moderated !. Why ?.

    • rose
      Posted July 7, 2017 at 8:50 pm | Permalink

      He shouldn’t have to account to us for how he spends his day, surely?

  67. lojolondon
    Posted July 7, 2017 at 4:14 pm | Permalink

    EU – £20Bpa. Foreign Aid – £10Bpa. BBC – £6B pa. HS2 – £71B plus the rest (eg. trains).

    That is where the money is. Not one of the above represents good value for money by any measure. If the government is not willing to even consider cutting these massive, wasteful vanity projects then the Conservative party is not nearly conservative enough!

  68. Denis Cooper
    Posted July 7, 2017 at 4:44 pm | Permalink

    Why do we have to put up with this kind of rubbish?

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/07/07/philip-hammond-warns-theresa-may-would-madness-not-seek-closest/

    “Philip Hammond warns Theresa May it would be ‘madness’ not to seek closest possible ties with EU”

    As it happens she has repeatedly said that she wants to seek the closest possible ties with the EU, while not actually being part of the EU or part of the EU’s single market or of the EU’s customs union; so why does Hammond feel it necessary to make public statements of this kind, and why does Theresa May tolerate it?

  69. stred
    Posted July 7, 2017 at 4:55 pm | Permalink

    The BBC News and politics dept is widely believed to be leading the campaign to prevent or have a Brexit in which we still obey and pay the EU for buying their products. Their director has just been chosen to be her chief of staff and present her case. Is this because she needs someone who will put the case for the above? Or is she just not aware of the previous track record of staff.

    She seems to be trying to persuade Trump to re-join the Paris greencrap treaty. Has anyone told herthat two independent studies by Danish statisticians and MIT scientists have concluded that the scientific facts agreed in the treaty are false and the measures will not work. Maybe someone on Trump’s team will have time to explain this to her and why it is not worth closing down American industry in order for the Chinese and Indian economies to belch out even more greenhouse gases and pollution.

    It is difficult also to believe that top student and Rothschild banker Macron does not know this too. But then he has appointed the French equivalent of Caroline Lucas as minister for energy and he is busy closing down their nuclear industry, banning shale and petrol cars and thinks they can manage using windmills and solar panels. Let’s hope Mrs May doesn’t take their advice and have us freezing and unable to travel far.

    • fedupsoutherner
      Posted July 7, 2017 at 8:30 pm | Permalink

      Stred. She’s not inspiring me with any confidence. The Tory party has had many opportunities to do something about the Climate Change act but they have done NOTHING. In fact they are just as bad as the dithering Libs and idiotic Labour party. Shame on her and the party. It sounds as though everyone on this site is in the same frame of mind so why don’t our politicians listen to the electorate – those that vote for them and not the Greens or the Lib Dims or Labourites?

  70. Freeborn John
    Posted July 7, 2017 at 5:13 pm | Permalink

    The Chancellor is undermining Brexit negotiations again. He needs to be fired immediately. A delegation should visit Theresa May and tell her that if Hammond is not dropped immediately she will be deposed. He is clearly aiming for a permanent transition that keeps all aspects of EU membership in place.

  71. Terry
    Posted July 7, 2017 at 5:40 pm | Permalink

    JR, you point out two glaring examples of publically perceived Government waste. HS2 and Overseas Aid.
    Together they add to over £40 Billions and rising!
    Will the Government ever explain their reasonin g for throwing OUR MONEY at projects NOT supported by the Tax Payers? And also justify why these vanity projects are more important than helping the British Tax payers in their own country with their OWN Money?

    Why are we wasting all of those £Billions overseas when millions of so-called refugees and asylum seekers are fighting to get here anyway? The £12 Billions donated to Overseas Aid could employ thousands of Brits and build a very effective Border Agency wouldn’t it?

    • Anonymous
      Posted July 7, 2017 at 8:24 pm | Permalink

      It’s quite obvious what the establishment is doing. Brexit was a mere diversion.

  72. Ian Pennell
    Posted July 7, 2017 at 9:26 pm | Permalink

    Dear John Redwood,

    I think that the Public appetite for further Public Spending restraint is now virtually zero. Of course the Budget Deficit leaves no room at all for increases in Public Spending so we need to look at pledging the money currently going to the EU and Foreign Aid. Not only is this electorally vital for the Conservatives but re-directing money that currently leaves the UK back into the country would help the struggling economy.

    We also need to look at raising much more revenue without alienating Conservative Voters to offer tax cuts that would appeal strongly to low and middle income workers like reducing fuel duty and raising the Income Tax threshold to £20,000. Not only would this appeal to Voters with a unique Conservative policy but this would stimulate the economy and encourage the growth needed to greatly increase Public Spending in years to come. As to how to raise the funds to do this a Wealth Tax on only very expensive mansions over £5 million could raise a further £15 billion annually. It would not harm the economy like taxes on income because houses don’t move. In New York taxes on mansions are as high as $60,000 (£40,000) yet rich people still run businesses in that city and the US economy is thriving. Such a policy is unlikely to cost the Conservatives more than 1 to 2% in the polls since there probably less than a million people in Britain who own such mansions and we could gain 15% or more in the polls by having a costed popular series of tax-cuts for low-income families. If you have doubts about this recall what happened when Gordon Brown wanted to have an Election in 2007 and when George Osborne pledged to tax non-doms more in order to raise the Inheritance Tax threshold to £ 1 million.

    Conservatives appeal to the masses with tax-cuts provided that they are satisfied that this does not mean Public Services will be cut. This is how the Conservatives came unstuck in 2001 and 2005, since Labour was able to suggest to Voters that the Conservatives would cut Public Services. This same anger over Cuts is what Jeremy Corbyn has tapped into last month when the Conservatives lost Seats.

    Reply The richest 1% already pay 27% of the Income tax. A Mansion tax might lead to an exodus from London of some of these.

    • graham1946
      Posted July 8, 2017 at 9:51 am | Permalink

      Reply to reply

      This is a well worn silly argument. Of course the rich pay the most income tax – they get the most money. They don’t pay the most tax overall which is why it is always income tax that is mentioned in this context, not taxation in general. If they leave their mansions, where will they go that is cheaper, has our shopping, opera, ballet, art galleries, restaurants etc which is their life style? Its why they are here and where they make their money. Even if they do leave, they can’t take the mansions with them, so they can still be charged and if they sell them, their new owners will pay.

    • anon
      Posted July 8, 2017 at 5:56 pm | Permalink

      And the exodus would be biblical if corbyn rides in. Assuming they are allowed to leave.

  73. Chris
    Posted July 7, 2017 at 9:35 pm | Permalink

    …and to add insult to injury,
    http://www.express.co.uk/news/politics/826177/Theresa-May-Foreign-aid-taxpayers-cash-overseas-fury
    “FOREIGN AID SCANDAL: UK taxpayers’ cash to be spent on overseas natural disaster insurance

    BRITISH taxpayers’ cash is to be spent insuring Third World countries against the risk of natural disasters including floods and droughts, Theresa May announced today, sparking widespread fury….”

    This is utter madness and totally inexcusable. Please do something, Mr Redwood.

    • Chris
      Posted July 7, 2017 at 9:41 pm | Permalink

      A PS to above: same link. Seems that Mrs May is committing even more of our money at G20 summit, Hamburg. Philip Davies is not very happy as he apparentlyrefers to his constituents who can’t get/afford insurance for flooding disasters in his constituency.

      “At the G20 Summit of world leaders in Hamburg, Germany, Mrs May also pledged nearly £140million from the Department for International Development (DfID) budget to a series of aid projects in Africa.

      They include a new London Centre for Global Disaster Protection using British expertise to strengthen disaster planning in poor countries.

      Theresa said foreign aid budget will be spent on the insurance premiums over the next four years. The centre will help develop the use of insurance schemes to provide rapid and reliable finance in humanitarian emergencies such as the severe drought in East Africa.

      Officials say the centre could provide up to £2billion when crises hit as a cost-effective alternative to emergency aid. They envisage that the governments of developing countries would fund their own insurance in future but plan to provide British funding over the next four years as an encouragement.

      British-based insurance companies will benefit from the foreign aid investment, the officials stressed. Mrs May said: “We must not forget that progress in Africa benefits the UK at home.

  74. Buttercup Syrup
    Posted July 8, 2017 at 1:33 am | Permalink

    My local Labour Council has said “Council Tax will certainly need to rise in 2018” It always raises Council Tax to the maximum level permitted…whoever is in government. I can’t speak too lowly of the Head of the Council.

  • 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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