Where all the money is going and what should be done. Making state services more efficient

Please find below my latest article for Conservative Home:

This government has been generous with taxpayers’ money. Record sums have gone into the NHS, alongside the huge amounts spent on Covid measures. Extra money has been allocated for the police, defence, levelling up. and other priorities. Despite this, NHS waiting lists have surged, our armed services are shrinking, we struggle for skilled people to fill thousands of jobs and the (effectively nationalised) railways are perpetually striking to resist changes that would boost productivity.

This century, our public sector has seen productivity gains come to a halt. The latest ONS publication on the subject is dated 7 April 2020. The long-term graphs included show that from a base of 97 in 1999, productivity had just managed to reach an index level of 100 twenty years later. There are some in the public service senior management who think productivity does not apply to them.

By associating productivity with cost-cutting, those managing our public services have not learned that good productivity programmes aim to improve quality whilst reducing costs. Concentrating on good outcomes cuts complaints and remediation costs. Employing fewer better-trained and better paid-people for any given task often raises customer quality, improves motivation and performance, and leads to more growth of the business as a result. Productivity can be raised by applying the right technology, automation and machinery to tasks and training people better to do the tasks only people can do.

Some claim that the public sector requires a high ratio of staff to users for the best service. Whilst limiting class size in schools can improve the quality of each pupil’s experience, learning experiences can also be enhanced by giving pupils remote access to star lecturers, or by using digital lessons that are not as staff intensive. Many like access to a named GP or hospital consultant if they become seriously ill, but also approve of new opportunities for phone calls or online links to their GP for advice or  treatment. The railways should also be an ideal industry to embrace automation to improve safety and raise productivity.

The government is right to seek better control over public spending after the huge expense of tackling Covid. The first reductions were easy: removing Test and Trace and scaling back the vaccination programme after most people had received three jabs. But there is more to do. The Secretary of State needs to take a tougher interest in the amazing array of administrative and policy jobs still being  advertised for various health quangos. I have twice now asked Ministers to tell me how many Chief Executives there are of health bodies in NHS England.

As they are all clearly drawing large salaries you would have thought the NHS would know. But on each occasion they have replied that they do not. No large private sector organisation would employ CEOs without knowing how many there are, what they cost, and what they do.  It was particularly strange that one of these exchanges was debating a report into the senior management of the NHS, which should logically begin with its size and cost.

My next recommendation to curb spending targets the million people on out of work benefits whilst there are far more than a million job vacancies. Both the individuals and the public finances would be better off if they took those jobs. The pre-Covid checks and support offered to job seekers must be reinstated and improved so we can take advantage of these plentiful vacancies.

When it comes to handing out money, the Treasury could offer ways that cut government costs rather than raising them. Its wish to offset the high price rises for fuel by sending one off payments to people based on various criteria is more expensive than reducing taxes on the specific items. The Treasury also adds to costs by inventing new taxes when it should concentrate on economic growth and the large revenues generated from pre-existing taxes. Recent and upcoming Treasury reforms will make tax collection less efficient and add to compliance costs. It does not set a good example for Whitehall.

With the Government hoping to extend home ownership, it would be wise to review the number of permits granted to people to come and live and work in the UK. The current rate of admission requires the UK to build many extra homes, to construct additional school and healthcare capacity, put in extra roads and much else to accommodate the rising population. All this requires substantial up front capital to be provided, and adds to demand side market pressures  Accepting a slower rate of population growth would relieve some of the pressure and cut the need for additional public sector capacity.

The government should review quangos and contract terms for Chief Executives of agencies and public bodies. It should slim down the number of bodies, transferring more to central Whitehall and the existing team of senior managers, and amalgamating elsewhere to cut overheads. Doing more better with existing resources should be a normal expectation in many areas, as it is in the private sector. The public sector pays large salaries to some of the chiefs of the larger trading bodies but often does not get the performance from them you should expect from such well paid individuals.

There have been long-running problems with public procurement. Most of the system is run by officials to avoid allegations of favouritism in contracts. There should be methods to ensure the system is capable of delivering great quality and a good price for all that government buys. It should also ensure domestic supply and access to technology is properly looked after in a competitive process. Importing too much is often not the cheaper option in the long term, is subject to overseas supply interruptions, entails more transport cost and undermines the domestic industry and tax base.

There is a big productivity agenda to make government better that the government needs to take seriously. There are plenty of Ministers. They should be charged with the task of raising the quality and volume of output we get for the large resources now committed.


  1. Mark B
    June 15, 2022

    Good morning.

    As I see it there are a range of problems that need to be dealt with but, the very first of these is to realise that there are problems in the first place. A very difficult thing to do in politics and even more so whilst in government. No one likes to admit to their mistakes are criticise say. the NHS. Bad PR.

    The second problem is the people at the helm – They’re not Conservatives but a bunch of people looking to make a career in and out of politics. Being in the Conservative Party and government is a means to a very lucrative end. Just ask Theresa May MP about what she got for her latest lecture ?

    Then we turn to Labour’s army of hidden in plain sight helpers, the Civil Service, unions, charities, activist groups, the BBC and other media. All working for the Establishment against the will and interests of the people.

    A nice to do list. Sadly, it will be ignored .

    1. Lifelogic
      June 15, 2022

      Indeed but who on earth would want to pay to listen to the tedious, wrong headed, net zero dope and geography graduate Theresa May?

      You cannot really be generous with other people’s money can you.

      So once again the government fails to do anything (beyond wasting £billions) on open door illegal immigration with the Rwanda farce yesterday. Why on earth are we will still in the ECHR and why are lawyers being allowed to subvert democracy and waste £billions in this way?

      1. Ed M
        June 17, 2022


        Either you are just letting off steam and / or else you think you think your policies can be realistically implemented?
        The problem isn’t so much the SYSTEM (that can be important to a degree) but more HUMAN NATURE and LACK OF CULTURAL VALUES (such as 1. WORK ETHIC 2. TAKING PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY FOR ONESELF 3 AND ONE’S FAMILY 3. FAMILIES VALUES 4. PATRIOTISM ETC).

        Once you have human nature / cultural values sorted, then you’ve achieve 90% – 95% of what is needed. The rest, the 5% to 19%, is merely the system in place and how efficiently that is run.

        You keep focusing on the system and how inefficiently it is being run but you’re over-egging the importance / role of the system and also thinking it’s possible to micromanage every single cog and wheel in the system. It is not. People have to take personal responsible for that to an important degree.

        And so back to human nature / cultural values. That can only be achieved 90% to -95% – and starting at a very early age – through Education, The Media, The Arts, The Church (or the equivalent either religious or some ethical, non-religious organisation). Etc …

        Conservatism is far, far more than politics (this is a modern HERESY). But rather should be a cultural movement that also happens to involve politics although politics very important (and when I say politics, I mean politics in a general sense, not just economic policy). (And if you over-focus on politics, you mess things up, because to build people up correctly to behave correctly takes time and far more than just politics – to the point politics just becomes interfering / bossy / controlling).

    2. Narrow Shoulders
      June 15, 2022

      Then we turn to Labour’s army of hidden in plain sight helpers, the Civil Service, unions, charities, activist groups, the BBC and other media. All working for the Establishment against the will and interests of the people.

      Quite, such as the Union for Border Force workers funding legal challenges against government policy in the removal of illegals.

    3. DavidJ
      June 15, 2022

      Indeed Mark.

    4. Christine
      June 15, 2022

      The obscene amounts failed politicians get for giving lectures needs to be investigated. Who is paying this money and why? It could be construed as a backhander for services provided whilst in office. Also, politicians setting up foundations that could also be linked to providing highly paid jobs for the chumocracy. The whole thing stinks as does the amount of taxpayer money going to the charity industry.

      1. Mark B
        June 15, 2022


        I am of the opinion that MP’s receiving such gifts should be taxed to the tune of 105% of the fee.

    5. Ian Wragg
      June 15, 2022

      So the ECHR has scuppered the flight to Rwanda. Another WEF supporting unelected body interfering with a sovereign state.
      Also worth mentioning Boris,s wife’s beloved windmills generating 1.22gw. Lions ruled by donkeys springs to mind.

    6. Mitchel
      June 15, 2022

      I’ve just been re-reading a few chapters of Solzhenitsyn’s “Lenin in Zurich”(about Lenin’s exile there prior to THAT fateful railway journey home.A couple of choice quotes,first on the Swiss Socialist party:

      “The whole Swiss party was opportunist through and through,an almshouse for petit bourgeois.It consisted of bureaucrats,future bureaucrats and a handful of people terrorised by bureaucrats.”

      And then the Russian Provisional government (after the abdication of the Tsar):

      “How your pseudo-Socialist loves sticking his behind into a bourgeois ministerial chair.”

      Lenin,we need you!

      1. Richard II
        June 15, 2022

        I think Johnson agrees with you, Mitchel. Let’s remember that in his speech to the CBI last November, he quoted Lenin saying that ‘the communist revolution was Soviet power + the electrification of the whole country’. Johnson was using this quote from a Communist dictator in support of his Green revolution agenda. Makes you think.

    7. formula57
      June 15, 2022

      @ Mark B “A nice to do list” – what, productivity, quango functioning, procurement? Was that not all a priority in the 1970’s, alongside the NHS charging foreign visitors for treatment?

      All ignored because there is an absence of will to effect change perhaps?

  2. Richard1
    June 15, 2022

    All good ideas. What’s the chance of Boris Johnson’s govt launching an effective programme to deliver such gains? You only have to ask the question to know the answer.

  3. Bloke
    June 15, 2022

    Over-borrowing to be generous adds worse for later. Changing people’s errant behaviour is more cost-efficient and kinder at preventing waste. Incentives and tax more skilfully stimulate what is right. On the heavier side, we used to have an effective police force. Now it is a soft service, allowing dangerous others to rule. Safe streets at night were once the norm in our civilised nation, even for a woman alone; not now.

    Our nation has become clogged with far too many people. They live crushed together tight and often fight for basic services which once flowed easily. Borrowing yet more to match such increasing demands just adds to the flames.

  4. DOM
    June 15, 2022

    Your party’s part of the problem. Your party is Labour and Labour is your party. Both of these parties seek to prevent any significant change to the status quo and they’ll act in unison under the radar to prevent any threat to their domination. It is a duopoly, it’s rancid and it’s destroying our nation, its culture and its finances.

    I don’t believe the Tory-Labour duopoly give a toss how much damage they cause to freedom, liberty and sanity

  5. Sharon
    June 15, 2022

    Mark B

    Your last paragraph sums it up nicely.

    “ Then we turn to Labour’s army of hidden in plain sight helpers, the Civil Service, unions, charities, activist groups, the BBC and other media. All working for the Establishment against the will and interests of the people.”

    The question is, how can we change things? This state of affairs has been a long in the making.

    1. Original Richard
      June 15, 2022

      Sharon : “The question is, how can we change things? This state of affairs has been a long in the making.”

      Keep pushing for referendums, its the only way to bypass the ruling elite.

      Of course this will be very difficult as Brexit did not go the way of the undemocratic ruling Establishment in Parliament, the Civil Service, the CB(?)I, the CoE(?), the educational establishment, the judiciary, the BoE, the POTUS, the M(arxist)SM etc. etc.

    2. Mark B
      June 15, 2022

      Things will only change when you and everyone else changes. And that means, not supporting the LibLabCON.

  6. PeteB
    June 15, 2022

    Sir J, you touch on one area of inefficiency – tax legislation. Our tax rules are now over 10 million words long,
    and are the most complex in the world.

    Slash the tax legislation, scrap taxes that bring in modest amounts (IHT is a classic example) and scrap the associated offfsets and allowances which ensure many do not pay (again the true wealthy avoid IHT).

    This would save government cost and save private sector cost spent in tax avoidance work. Every chance you would generate more income with a handful of simple, unavoidable taxes.

    1. Mark B
      June 15, 2022

      IR35 Was brought in because Employers National Insurance (ENIC) was not being paid by contractors / employers. This was HMRC’s solution. My solution would be to rid ourselves of ENIC as it is a tax on jobs and, would remove one of the advantages of employing Service Contractors.

  7. Nigl
    June 15, 2022

    Sadly spot on. And thank you yesterday to Bill Brown for for his rude arrogance rubbishing alternative views to his, just like his beloved EU.

  8. MPC
    June 15, 2022

    Another fine article that most voters would agree with. Each day one looks for reasons for optimism that the government may stop destroying our way of life, but each day the opposite happens. One latest example being Michael Gove refusing consent for exploratory fracking in Yorkshire for no good reason whatsoever. So we can say goodbye to any resumption of fracking in Lancashire and to coking coal mining in Cumbria.

  9. Lifelogic
    June 15, 2022

    Next BBC 1 has the appalling David Lammy on and he is asked for his solutions, but he clearly has no sensible ones to offer on flood of economic immigration.

    So are this government going to sort out the mess left by Blair’s 1998 human rights act and remove us.? Cameron promised this years ago but did nothing.

    What a lot of appalling damage Blair did in his ten disastrous years, wars, botched devolution, open door immigration, the ECHR… I suppose we also should blame Major for burying the Tories and giving us three disastrous terms of Blair/Brown.

  10. Everhopeful
    June 15, 2022

    Yes. But we all know that this mayhem has come from constant change which has no beneficial effect.
    I mean..let’s change from allowing the extreme far Left to defy govt. legislation to actually applying the law. That might be a good idea?
    So either the ideas are rubbish or there is not the calibre of staff to implement them.
    They have ruined so many aspects of our,lives with their craziness.
    Aren’t they satisfied yet?

  11. Paul Edwards
    June 15, 2022

    This all sounds like ‘motherhood and apple pie’ – difficult to disagree with cutting costs and improving productivity but it requires some vision. After 12 years of a Conservative government, one would assume that at least some of this could have been tackled. But no- the Conservative Party is the establishment and do not want to ‘rock the boat’ for their supporters and members who can see knighthoods, peerages and well paid sinecures for chairing this or that agency, all available for following the party line.

  12. Narrow Shoulders
    June 15, 2022

    May we ask how much money is going on illegals? Do the benefits handed to them entitle them to £326 on 14 July? It all adds up and increases the pull factor.

    Turn again defendant KN, thou worthy citizen, Turn again, defendant KN, asylum seeker of the Channel. Make a good fortune, Find a good wife, You will know happiness all through your life. Turn again

  13. Roy Grainger
    June 15, 2022

    Has Test and Trace been cut much ? We’re still doing well over a million tests per day which is surprising. We are testing at a rate three times higher than Germany (adjusted for population). Why ?

  14. Everhopeful
    June 15, 2022

    With regard to spending on Police.
    Yesterday a car park was given over entirely to police car checks.Yet shown as open on internet.
    Checking ONE car and I counted 6 or so bobbies hanging around.
    Parking is obviously a huge issue for local businesses AND of course people pay council tax!!
    Not to mention revenue loss from a fair sized car park.

  15. Berkshire Alan
    June 15, 2022

    Many of the questions you ask John are the same as many of us out here also want answers to.
    Surely a government cannot keep on taking more and more taxes from those who pay them, and then throw it around like confetti every day of the week, because if that continues you eventually destroy the very basic work ethic, and any attempt at self improvement.
    At the moment Government does not seem to have a grip on anything at all, everything seems to be in chaos.
    Fully aware Ministers cannot know the answer to everything, but the people they seem to be going to for advice also seem to be clueless.
    Parliament is stuffed with lawyers yet we cannot even deport illegals, but instead put them up in Hotels, just look at the latest farce.
    Look at how many large organisations avoid paying the correct amount of tax.
    Anyone with reasonable eyesight can see the state of our roads is getting worse and worse, but no one seems won’t or be able to organise sensible repairs.

  16. Donna
    June 15, 2022

    Fiddling around with efficiency savings will never achieve a great deal with a public sector which is addicted to regulations, bureaucracy and micro-management. And that includes Parliament, which these days appears to be more interested in micro-managing our personal lives than governing the country.

    A scroll through the following shows where a lot of the money is going, and a simply don’t believe that they are all essential (although they provide nice little earners for the governing class)

    We need the bonfire of the Quangos which Cameron promised but never delivered. Scrap the Police and Crime Commissioners and their fiefdoms (no-one wanted them in the first place). Halve the size of the House of Frauds, prior to genuine reform and democratisation of the “Senate.”

    We are over-governed in this country; there are too many layers of governance and “jobs for the political guys n gals” and they try to do too much and do it badly.

  17. majorfrustration
    June 15, 2022

    Want a job John – you have some good ideas and clearly understand the problems. Shame you are not in No.10

  18. Wanderer
    June 15, 2022

    Well put. Sadly, your ending comment is true.

  19. Clough
    June 15, 2022

    Your list of areas we’re subsidising doesn’t mention that the U.K. has committed a total of £2.8 billion to Ukraine, according to a government website. I wonder if there is any oversight of how this money is being spent. We know that vast sums of Western aid to Afghanistan disappeared into a black hole. I’d like to know how cost-effective our aid to Ukraine actually is. E.g. are we sending the Ukrainian army artillery that they’re using to shell civilians in Donetzk, which is a war crime, or are our weapons having some success in fighting back the Russian army?

  20. BW
    June 15, 2022

    Can you tell me how much money is being or has been claimed in legal aid to human rights lawyers representing illegal migrants over the past 5 years. Those lawyers, whose motivation is not the rights of the individual but their own financial gain is no less reprehensible than the people traffickers making money in Calais.

    Cutting legal aid to assist those who are illegally in the U.K. could be a way of saving money.

    However as I have said before The government will achieve absolutely nothing whilst we remain in the ECHR. As proved yesterday. All our judges were just wiped away.

    Next we could start on the House of Lords and that sinkhole for which money is no problem.

    1. Timaction
      June 15, 2022

      Dont hold your breath. Torys need annialating to achieve meaningful change

  21. No Longer Anonymous
    June 15, 2022

    I fear that a real Tory government is impossible in the current situation. Vested interests are making the country ungovernable and the BBC has a grip on the zeitgeist. Even the advertising industry is irredeemably woke. We have to go through the full ‘boom-bust’ political cycle before another Thatcher appears, I’m afraid.

  22. DavidJ
    June 15, 2022

    “As they are all clearly drawing large salaries you would have thought the NHS would know.” Of course they know but are trying to cover their guilt in squandering taxpayers’ money. However, surely the Inland Revenue could provide that information? Better to ask the gamekeeper rather than the poacher.

  23. Everhopeful
    June 15, 2022

    Talking of efficiency and money was it actually the ECHR that stopped the fabled flight to Rwanda?
    Which has, of course, always been a load of utter nonsense and mendacious rubbish.
    It IS…it IS DEFINITELY “Alice Through the Looking Glass”.
    Jam tomorrow.
    And of course…tomorrow never comes ( as planned).

    1. Everhopeful
      June 15, 2022

      How ON EARTH is this “taking back control”
      How can EU judges do this?
      Why do we take notice?
      Did we ever leave the EU?
      And how utterly LUNATIC in the face of this to sign up to the PandemicTreaty.
      We won’t lose our sovereignty …..😂

      1. R.Grange
        June 15, 2022

        EH, it’s not an EU court. The ECHR is a non-EU body we recognised back in 1951. It was a different world then, of course.

        Fortunately we haven’t signed up to the pandemic treaty because it hasn’t yet been presented to the WHA. Johnson’s government has said the treaty is a good idea, without knowing what’s going to be in it. Flying blind as usual.

        1. Everhopeful
          June 15, 2022

          Thanks for pointing that out.
          I see that ECHR is totally different …part of the Council of Europe.
          Of which we are, of course, an obedient member!
          And there seem to be ongoing negotiations for the EU to accede to ECHR…

          1. glen cullen
            June 16, 2022

            The Council of Europe ECHR just happens to have the same number of main members as the EU….and its a condition of EU membership that you join ECHR….its all the same

    2. glen cullen
      June 15, 2022

      Why are the flights publicised; why isn’t a date given that no appears can to taken or heard; why are 20 year olds with beards classed as children just because the say they are…..this lunacy needs to end – everyone in north France now knows its impossible to be removed from the UK

    3. Mark B
      June 15, 2022

      The real clever thing is one of perception.

      To explain. Before we had a government that really did not care about those crossing the Channel until, Nigel Farage started making it news. Then as the numbers rose and the public were being affected the government tried all manner of schemes, all to no avail. Now Rwanda has proven a dead end the government can not claim it has tried all means but others have stopped them. Result ! The government is seen as the good guy and has scored a few brownie reputation points with the electorate as it can blame the ECHR and all those lawyers and charities.

      Talk about getting out of a tight spot 😉

  24. MFD
    June 15, 2022

    Good morning Sir John, I know this is off topic but I believe it needs discussed today!

    Considering the ECHR ruling last night, resulting in no economic illegal migrants being sent to Rewanda , I believe it is VERY urgent that Great Britain leaves the corrupting organisation. We have our own morals so we do not need to be involved with anything to do with Europe!

    1. glen cullen
      June 15, 2022


    2. Mark B
      June 15, 2022

      We can’t !

  25. Beecee
    June 15, 2022

    Good morning and Happy Birthday Sir John.

    1. Mark B
      June 15, 2022

      Oh ! I did not know. Happy Birthday.

      1. Everhopeful
        June 15, 2022


  26. Ralph Corderoy
    June 15, 2022

    It’s not just public services which have failed to make productivity gains for many years, the lack in the private sector hurts too. I’ve heard it argued that the plentiful supply of fiat money at low rates removes the incentive for firms to risk capital on investment for a potential distant productivity return when a share-buy-back scheme is beneficial to shareholders, and the board, today. Similarly, British governments of all colours have had a magic money-tree for many years, most recently through Quantitative Easing, so why should public services look for any improvements other than those which will miraculously appear when new money arrives?

    As for slimming down the size of the state, Lord Rees-Mogg, Jacob’s father, wrote how our state is run by its employees as opposed to owner or customers; this is apparent in its profile of income, profit, and so on. The state’s key aim is to cover it main cost: labour. When it can’t, it still prioritises the employees thus it tends to deficits. To overcome objections from its customers, the tax payers, Rees-Mogg senior says it co-opts more pseudo-employees through the welfare state. Both political parties are complicit in this when in government, alternating between the feckless layabout and the fat-cat pensioner as the new co-optees. It’s all made possible by fiat money and, IIRC, Rees-Mogg says it only stops when the money fails.

    Once the lack of sound money in this country is apparent, many problems seem to have fiat money at their base. The solution to fiat-money woes is to print money which works as long as more is printed than for the last fix and until enough people catch on that the money is quickly declining in value. That’s where many countries in the world are heading, surely and not too slowly, since the last tie with sound money was broken in 1971.

    It would be very interesting for you to debate economy, money, etc., with Steve Baker, a proponent of sound money. Not as a slug-fest, simply for the listener to learn more about the topic. Perhaps Liam Halligan might host?

  27. a-tracy
    June 15, 2022

    It would be interesting to correlate the introduction of the Working Time Directive in 1998 with the downturn in productivity, we were told the opposite would happen and people would be more productive working fewer hours.

    The public sector has massive holiday allowances, absence allowances and duvet days on full pay and therefore requires 10% – 15% more employees to cover. They don’t even appreciate how much this massive perk costs their employer and it is never mentioned in wage reviews.

    Another big impact on productivity is road delays, motorways down to two lanes and minimum speeds for months on end. On main arteries and poor local roads dug up for months on end with no rush, the difference when it is a private contractor fixing a problem on the same junction is massive a matter of weeks instead of months and you see them working from 8am to 6pm not the 10am to 4pm with a big break in the middle. The new ad-blue and filter measures on vehicles causing lots more breakdowns and limp mode recoveries ask the AA and RAC in vehicles from the Continent less than 3 years old, even with the regular and expensive servicing at a great schedule than that recommended by the maker!

  28. Wokinghamite
    June 15, 2022

    I think people’s health should be the priority, not raising productivity.

  29. Lifelogic
    June 15, 2022

    “Making state services more efficient” well no shortage of scope for this. So many public services are virtually useless and many are even worse than useless doing positive harm.

    So we are to get some brief nice weather in the South anyway – great. Or as the absurd Met Office now puts it we have “a level 2 heat warning”! At least they have not started to give warm weather names yet!

  30. a-tracy
    June 15, 2022

    John, what sort of turnover per hour worked per employee earning £10 per hour, £20 per hour, £30 per hour should an SME business expect to be considered productive on the measures the ONS use as just a crude measure?

    I don’t see how the ONS measures productivity accurately at all, the end-of-year pay returns do not ask for company turnover related to that employee, it doesn’t ask for hours worked by each individual, and snapshots don’t show the full story as a lot of the company turnover may not be related to employees at all. Many companies especially foreign companies operating in the UK use sub-contractors and umbrella subcontractor teams how can that be measured to hours worked it can’t, their journeys to and from home are working but not measured as working, they don’t take the holidays and they do more hours.

  31. Christine
    June 15, 2022

    The amount of waste in the NHS is staggering. Take for example my experience this week. I received a text message and a phone call from my doctor asking me to go for an x-ray. I had to travel to my surgery to pick up a handwritten form and then take this to my local hospital. The team was waiting for patients so I was in and out within 5 minutes. Why in this day and age of technology are doctors wasting their time handwriting forms that could be emailed at a touch of a button? Something is sadly wrong with money being spent in the wrong areas. My health authority has just spent thousands removing the word WOMEN/WOMAN from its literature and is proud that it shows their inclusivity. They have truly lost the plot.

  32. agricola
    June 15, 2022

    A good question, but remember, in public finance their is no bottom line and few employed in public service who would recognise what it was or have the experience and talent to achieve it.

    Witness HS2. The contractors know how to look after their own interests and achieve a healthy bottom line, but the customer, government, hasn’t much of a clue. As ever Joe Public pays. Be aware, it is government in the guise of the civil service who ochestrate such fiascoes. The same civil service that government, politicians, allow so much political latitude to. They are the unaccountable third state who need their tails docking.

  33. turboterrier
    June 15, 2022

    Sadly O/T
    Has the country got or even wants control of its destiny?
    Boris has got to step up to the mark with the announcement that the ECHR have blocked the Rwanda flight.
    The country cannot go on like this anymore. It is now all or nothing and politicians had better start being honest with themselves if they haven’t got the ####s to throw it out, then resign.
    The government has got to harden up against the sectors who are making millions out of all of this and weakening our country. 6000 ex service personnel are homeless , it is not on, actually its obscene that we treat our own people this way..

  34. hefner
    June 15, 2022

    With today’s blog on productivity I suddenly wonder: what is the productivity of the Government? the productivity of this or that Minister? that of Parliament as a whole? or of the individual chambers? of the individual parties? of an individual MP?

  35. KB
    June 15, 2022

    There needs to be a serious look at the Highways Agency in connection with productivity of our society.
    By their own admission many of their “improvement” schemes lead to worse congestion and increased journey times. Examples are the M40/A34 junction and J23 on the M6.
    The time taken for works is incredible, usually far longer than it took to build that section of road in the first place. As many have remarked, you can drive through miles of roadworks and never see a single person working there.
    There are also unnecessary works, for example they are taking several years to install concrete barriers between J26 and J21 on the M6. WHY for heavens sake.
    Given the level of congestion, it is a miracle anything at all gets done in this country, let alone improving productivity.

  36. turboterrier
    June 15, 2022

    It is a mammoth problem but surely the easiest way to start addressing the situation is to completely re-think how we do things.
    Heads of Departments. Paid by Results
    Large departments broken down into smaller manageable teams on a self directed basis again PBR
    No more costly quangos, departments solely accountable for their own decisions.
    Reward identification of waste and its eradication.
    Get rid of the Auto Pilot Syndrome. Coming to work leaving brains on the gates , working in AP, lifting brains on the way out. Mythology of continual improvement must be standard practice.

  37. paul
    June 15, 2022

    All to do with discipline and schooling to which you saw the last of, in the 1960s. Market down turn soon or immminent.

  38. Mickey Taking
    June 15, 2022

    Once again it is clear for all to see that Sir John knows full well, and is gradually using his extensive ammunition, that this Government, PM and much of what people refer to as Establishment, are grinding this country down, law and order, economy, health, transport, education and political subtle volte-face.
    It is all a mocking downward spiral of a country that most of the World respected.
    Bring on a massive GE defeat for God’s sake.

    1. glen cullen
      June 16, 2022

      Agree…..I still fail to see a single success of this government

  39. Original Richard
    June 15, 2022

    There are two very, very large expenditure items where our civil service led government refuses to make public the costs, Net Zero and immigration.

  40. glen cullen
    June 15, 2022

    Boris confirmed today, at the first question at PMQs, his commitment for his green revolution….the recent vote of confidence hasn’t dented him nor his net-zero policies

    1. Philip P.
      June 16, 2022

      Glen, that’s because the policies are independent of Johnson. He’s just the man you see on the front desk. In 2020 the country adopted a policy of spending astronomical sums on the pharmaceutical industry and PPE products, while decimating the travel and hospitality industry. Johnson was told to follow the policy and after initial hesitation he did.

  41. Pauline Baxter
    June 15, 2022

    Yes well, Sir John . . . .
    Perhaps writing in Conservative Home increases the chances of you being listened to BUT I still have my doubts.

  42. Lewis
    June 15, 2022

    Totally agree Mr Redwood, thanks again for your thoughts

  43. Original Richard
    June 15, 2022

    If the Royal Navy/border force/RNLI/government/charities/judiciary/the civil service welcome unidentifiable young men of fighting age from hostile countries such as Iran by efficiently accommodating them in 4* hotels, giving them free healthcare, £40/week pocket money and the freedom to roam the streets as they wish, would young Russian men of fighting age arriving in our waters be treated any differently?

  44. Lindsay McDougall
    June 15, 2022

    If we want to get more people into work and simultaneously reduce public expenditure, there is a pair of measures that will get the dynamic right. First, ensure that nobody on the minimum wage pays income tax or personal NI. In other words, nobody on £18,000 pa or less should pay income tax or NI. While the individual components of Universal Credit benefits may be increased, the cap should not be increased, even possibly reduced. The current cap is £20,000 pa (£23,000 in London), more than the earnings of someone on the minimum wage. That’s generous.

  45. David
    June 16, 2022

    UC for a single person is £5,000 per year … plus rent if applicable.
    State Pension for a person born after 1951 is ~£9,000 per year.

    How the f*** – pardon the language – can any reasonable person be expected to live on these amounts? The state pension in Ireland is ~£12,000 per year. That’s more realistic.

    The country’s just blown £400,000,000 on a respiratory disease epidemic whose dangers were blown up out of all proportion. The Daily Sceptic, Conservative Woman, Left Lockdown Sceptics, UK Column News and other websites have documented the untruths.

    Minor example of the fraud: four days before lockdown began 23 March 2020, the government declared COVID-19 to be not a ‘high-consequence infectious disease’. What …? Yes.

    It appears that WHO issued orders which overrode national sovereignty. The disastrous past two years show the ‘success’ of this command-and-control world healthcare system (sarcasm alert).

    I hope that Sir John will start digging into this scandal of, er, unelected bureaucrats telling a sovereign nation-state how it must behave. But so far only one MP has been brave enough to challenge Whitehall.

    1. hefner
      June 17, 2022

      Indeed the government declared Covid-19 to be not a HCID on 19 March 2020 (a disease that can be dealt with locally) but WHO had declared it a PHEIC (Public Health Emergency of International Concern, ie a pandemic) on 30 January 2020.
      So what is your point, as it appears that some tens of thousands of people in the UK died from or with Covid-19?
      Tell us: do you think that the UK Government should have done nothing?

  46. MikeP
    June 17, 2022

    It’s hard to read this piece – and I’m coming to it a bit late – without concluding that our Government and likely as not many of our Civil Servants are totally incompetent. This isn’t what we expect of a Conservative administration, they seem to be going down the same rabbit hole as in 2008.
    Does anyone read your analysis and advice?
    Are our politicised Civil Servants being deliberately uncooperative, slow and inept to frustrate the Government into submission?
    What are we learning from Japan (in the G7) which has very low inflation?
    Do please, Sir John, keep up the pressure on the Chancellor and Treasury to ACT and why does any such action have to wait for Helen Whateley’s “next fiscal event” in the Autumn? We need a private sector can-do mindset in there, they need to get on with it!

  47. a-tracy
    June 18, 2022

    If India and all of these other areas that we steal trained doctors from have the training facilities at a lower expense than us and more than 80% of applicants for doctors training places are refused in the UK from British students due to a lack of training places why don’t you open up training places abroad like the Chinese and Indian government do to us here in the UK, why don’t you expect them to take the same number of British trainees? Is this even a thing? Other Countries are far sighted and pay for the training expertise they need, your government obviously think the training abroad is more superior than ours because you bring 9000 of their doctors over here, it seems only fair to pay them to train the doctors they send back to us anyway? By the way this training should be linked to a certain number of NHS hours expected for ten years or they need to pay their own training back.

    Do we get doctors in New Zealand to provide out of hours FaceTime care? Couldn’t this be facilitated evenly between the two Countries so we do their night phone calls between 10pm and 5am and they do ours?

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