The outrageous costs of public sector disasters

This week we read taxpayers will be slapped with a bill for £10 bn for the NHS using contaminated blood when treating patients. It has taken years  to enquire into what went wrong, and to offer people compensation.

We await the full bills to compensate sub postmasters which the nationalised Post Office put into prison  on made up charges of misconduct. It was  covering up its own gross management mistakes  with an expensive computer system. Despite wrongly taking large  sums from its employees it also sent taxpayers a ballooning bill to pay its trading  losses.

We are  paying billions for nationalised HS 2. Vastly overpaid bosses have presided  over a tripling of the costs of the scheme. The full railway will never now be built thanks to the  out of this world cost overruns and timetable delays by years.

The Bank of England is the worst and dearest of them all. It has already been paid £50 bn to cover unacceptably large losses on its bond dealing, with much more to come over the  next few years according to the OBR.

These disasters were organised by senior managers paid large six figure salaries  and often paid bonuses to celebrate their incompetence.

So who do so many MPs think nationalisation a good idea? How much more  money do they want to grab from taxpayers to pay to incompetent public sector managers who assume they can rely on  taxpayers to pay for their grotesque mistakes?


  1. Geoffrey Berg
    May 20, 2024

    The penalty for similar mistakes in the private sector is bankruptcy and the end of the business. In the public sector there is no such penalty, just a massive bill for taxpayers. So nothing should be in the public sector unless there is an overwhelming public interest case (as with the army) for it to be so.

    1. Nigl,
      May 20, 2024

      And, of course, like NatWest, the head has his honours taken away as in the PO. Any scintilla of a suggestion incompetent civil servants/public sector leaders lose theirs?

      Ha ha. No chance. We live in a ‘corrupt’ you scratch my back, I will scratch yours environment with top jobs often given as a ‘reward’ or to promote diversity. Paula Venells still given a CBE and a job in Whitehall after the Post Office scandal was well known. Andrew Bailey hardly glittering in previous jobs.

      I worked for a time in a quasi public sector business. CEO got the job as an ex private secretary to a very senior Labour politician. A very nice person, obviously good with the politics but useless/naive about driving a business.

      No surprise, still in a (different) senior public sector position.

      1. Hope
        May 20, 2024

        Todays news says no time table set to enforce EU border! Eight years! Is this why we have the boat invasion? What an absolute disgrace not to implement a national security issue and the huge cost of these welfare claimants each day! How many billions wasted because of your ministers refusing to implement it. Why no mention on this blog today?

        Reply No, the border issue is about more checks on goods, not people.

    2. Ian wragg
      May 20, 2024

      It looks like the Dutch are making a screeching U turn on the disastrous net zero nonsense
      No mote subsidies for EVs no compulsory heat pumps or the banning of gas boilers no more compulsory purchase of farms or culling of cattle and finally drilling for oil and gas in one of the largest reserves in Europe.
      Who says the voter can’t force change.
      Popcorn time in Brussels

      1. Mickey Taking
        May 20, 2024

        effective resistance if the group feed the nation and withdraw it. Here the group stop/disrupt transport seeking unrealistic employment terms in a threatened industry. Laws will be required.

    3. Lifelogic
      May 20, 2024

      Indeed, and we even have grossly unfair competition by the state by subsidised competition to the private sector in healthcare, schools (about to get even worse) with VAT, broadcasting, universities, energy, transport, banking, housing…

      So even efficient private businesses go bust due to unfair competition and over taxation from and by the state sector. This and clearly rigged markets. To go to a state school when Labour gives us VAT you pay four times over and yet labour and Gove call VAT on private schools a tax break! Same for private healthcare with IPT at 12% in this case.

      1. Lifelogic
        May 20, 2024

        So new dental graduates will be forced to work to work for the NHS it seems? This despite the fact that the young dentists have probably incurred about £150k of fees and living cost for 5+ years or so just to train themselves with student loans etc.

        So is this not modern slavery or bonded labour? Are these practices legal in the NHS then? Seems to be a good way of getting good UK trained dentists and doctors to go overseas and earn double where houses are often much cheaper too. Labour for 5-20 years seems a good way or encouraging hundred of other to do so too.

        1. Hope
          May 20, 2024

          How about £40 odd billions paid to EU for nothing in return, £2.3 billion each year for EU Horizon to promote EU interests, JR has not listed or cited EU costs?

    4. Peter Parsons
      May 20, 2024

      “The penalty for similar mistakes in the private sector is bankruptcy and the end of the business.”

      Really? How many banks did this happen to in 2008?

      1. Geoffrey Berg
        May 20, 2024

        The major banks may be a special case because they hold the savings of millions of people and if one bank collapses (unlike with shops) people won’t just go to another bank but would not put their money in any bank which could lead to the end of loans and the collapse of the economic system with devastating consequences to everybody.

      2. Peter
        May 20, 2024


        Banks got away with it, Fred the Shred and others.

        This whole article is just an attempt to pin ‘disasters’ exclusively on nationalised industries.

        We know Sir John Redwood loves privatised enterprises and is blind to any faults in them.

        Reply Not so. I am critical of bad private enterprises. At least when they lose money it is their shareholders and lenders that take the hit, not taxpayers. I was very critical of the bad banking regulation by the B of E that led to the banking crash in 2008

      3. a-tracy
        May 20, 2024

        Just a few, closed or taken over:

        Northern Rock, (Gov)
        Catholic Building Society
        Alliance and Leicester
        Derbyshire Building Society
        Cheshire Building Society
        Bradford and Bingley (Gov)
        HBOS (43% Gov) diversified financial services to Lloyds TSB (up to 43.5% Gov bought)
        London Scottish Bank

        1. Berkshire Alan
          May 20, 2024

          Bank branch closures also gaining speed, according to a recent Which Publication 33 constituencies are now without a single Bank Branch.
          They also report average waiting time of 23 mins on the HMRC help line (due to be discontinued) given the number of people ringing HMRC for help, this they suggest equates to a combined waiting time of 800 years, yet we hear reported that many of its staff working from home have nothing to do !
          Dread to think what the waiting times are for the NHS are when it is all added up.!
          Seems like we are on a downward spiral with Customer service now a thing of the past almost everywhere.

          1. a-tracy
            May 21, 2024

            Do your children ever go into a bank, though, Alan? Mine do everything online. I don’t like it. I think they will lose out on advice from decent bank managers on mortgages and savings products as time goes by, but they prefer the long-distance approach to most things.

            I miss our department stores, BHS, Debenhams, House of Fraser, I don’t like buying clothes and shoes online but they do. They don’t even mind telephone appointments with doctors! They’ll liaise with help bots and chat bots and YouTube teaching videos; I find it bizarre, but because more of them use these online services, the real-life services close.

  2. mickc
    May 20, 2024

    That would be the HS2 which Cameron inflicted on Britain as part of the proposed EU wide high speed rail network…instead of upgrading existing rail infrastructure.

    1. Lifelogic
      May 20, 2024

      Supported by labour too.

      No shortage of examples, it is not their money they are wasting & not they who benefit from the value (if any) is ever delivered.

      Some more examples. The net harm Covid vaccines – compensation will be about £300 billion doubtless in about 40 years time.
      Nearly all defence procurement projects especially the dire aircraft carriers.
      Defence recruitment
      The Millennium Dome
      Blair’s idiotic & counterproductive wars
      The pointless Covid Lockdowns
      The PPE rackets.

      The biggest of all Net Zero which will cost £1 Trillion + for a zero or negative “benefit”.

      The book – The Blunders of Our Governments Hardcover – 9 Sept. 2013
      by Anthony King (Author), Ivor Crewe (Author) needs updating. Not so much “blunders” as gross incompetence, crony capitalism and much corruption.

      1. Hope
        May 20, 2024

        You forgot overseas aid, £14 billion each year! China and India get overseas aid!

        1. Timaction
          May 20, 2024

          Aid for these and many others but none have agreed returns agreements for their illegal citizens. Why not? Because they want all forms immigration and have very different world view than unrepresented and forgotten English people. No returns, no aid, simples for anyone else. We’re desperate for commonsense. We need Reform.

    2. glen cullen
      May 20, 2024

      And don’t forget the main protagonist and sponsor to HS2 is now the Defence Secretary

      1. Lifelogic
        May 20, 2024

        Any jobs the man has not had apart from those at no 10 and no. 11. Amazing perhaps I should have done at HND at Manchester Poly in Business!

  3. agricola
    May 20, 2024

    SJR, it is not so much about Nationalisation or Privatisation as about a lack of ability to manage either for the greater good. Add to this the total inability of government, both political and civil service, to anticipate the elephant traps in either system and you have a clear explanation of where we find ourselves.

    Take HS2, a project that no entrepreneur would invest in. If financially incompetent government insist on having this bauble, then a stream of entrepreneurs are only too willing to partake of the cake at a profit. Well down the line, faced with overall governance that is out of its depth, it is all too easy to hike their take.

    On the other hand examine the private water companies. Effectively given a geographical monopoly, an ineffective set of public responsibilities, and a totally useless overseeing quango, who can blame them for prioritising the interests of their shareholders, who ultimately govern their take home pay. To cap the sin of government most of the shares are in foreign hands.

    Most of private enterprises outside the payolla of government contracts run themselves tolerably and morally well, particularly in the case of SMEs and the self employed. Their ultimate sanction being bankruptsy if they do not. In recognition of this, and what they provide for the Treasury, government treat them like s..t, seeing them as the enemy rather than the seed corn they are.

    In final analysis, political government and the civil service who sit at the top table of the management of the UK, are unquestionably useless.

  4. Javelin
    May 20, 2024

    The biggest financial disaster of all is mass migration of people from MENAPT (Middle East North Africa Pakistan and Turkey). Comprehensive Danish figures in the Economist magazine show on average they do not contribute financially at any point during their lives. Recently these figures have just the headlines talking about different crime rates being 3,4,5 times higher from MENAPT countries.

    Slowly the West is waking up to the economic disaster that dwarfs every other financial disaster you talk about. Fear of being called a racist is masking the huge problem.

    I strongly suggest you watch a video on YouTube by an ex Apprentice contestant, second generation Pakistani woman called “Candid with Lubna” where she has started to document the fraud committed by migrants. As she says it’s makes her blood boil.

    1. William
      May 20, 2024

      The biggest disaster is not just the illegal immigrants or MENAPT but the totally incompetent Ministers that have been given the task of running the country without the aptitude to do it. That’s why the Civil Service blob have been permitted to do what they want and take legal action against the Government if challenged. And if you think it’s bad now, wait till the idiotic Starmer and his Motley Crew get into Downing Street; we’ll be swimming to France!

      1. Timaction
        May 20, 2024

        The Chief exec of Wizz Air writing in the Telegraph today about socialism in the City imposed by this Tory Government and its predecessors. This is the EDI, ESG, 172 Companies Act plus the non Equality Laws and this Governments favourite religion NET stupid. Add a load of stamp duty share purchases, add Corporation taxes and the recipe is almost complete.
        Hunt wonders why London is not competing or gaining investments from pension funds etc loosing to capitalist American markets or elsewhere. I have a bridge to sell him and a small piece of advice.
        You can’t tax your way to prosperity or compete in the modern world by NOT selecting the best people on merit for company profits. Go woke, go broke!!!

  5. David Andrews
    May 20, 2024

    The explanation is simple if you believe the prevailing mantra that public sector spending is good but private sector profits are bad if not downright evil. Furthermore all this wasteful public (over) spending offers the further benefit that there can be no room for wicked tax cuts.

  6. DOM
    May 20, 2024

    Mr Redwood is absolutely correct. It is a hideous train of criminal incompetence without anyone taking responsibility nor seemingly anyone enduring punishment. The crimes are committed, the guilty walk away unsanctioned and the entire fiscal burden is then passed onto the perpetually abused, the taxpayer. Welcome to the British state, an immoral organisation without moral decency nor limits to its repugnant behaviour

    Anyway, I’m off to the local Doctors. By 1pm this afternoon I shall legally become Doreen rather than Dominic. Welcome to the psychotic neo-marxist sewer that is C21st Britain. Delivered to you by dangerous lunatics namely Members of Parliament

    1. Donna
      May 20, 2024

      Hope you’ve bought a nice frock, heels and some pink lippy Dom. Oh and don’t forget the accessories.

      Turning yourself magically into a woman requires attention to detail ….. but obviously not the minor detail that a man born with XY chromosomes can NEVER become a woman with XX chromosomes.

      1. Lifelogic
        May 20, 2024


    2. Peter Wood
      May 20, 2024

      The root of the problem is the FPTP, duopoly system we cling to. It has ceased to give us the quality, experience, competence and honesty we need to guide the nation. We are about to change the name of management but we’ll get no better than we have now, probably worse. There is no chance Labour will sort out the incompetence and corruption of the CS, so what are we to do? My only option is the unknown Reform Party. leap of faith when there’s no better alternative.

      1. formula57
        May 20, 2024

        @ Peter Wood – it must be doubted that the voting system is the cause of deterioration in the qualities of the elected, particularly as once upon a time it delievered better quality and there are many other rather obvious factors in play.

        The FPTP system has the considerable merit of making it easier to dismiss those in power than is the case with proportional votes systems. A fifteen minute youtube video by Oxford University’s David Deutsche on the AV referendum explains more particularly.

        1. Narrow Shoulders
          May 22, 2024

          The problem is not the voting system but voter behaviour.

          Voters need to register their opinion at the polls not vote for the “winner.” Stop voting for the least worst option and pick a subject that is important to them.

          UKIP showed in 2010 and 2015 that voters registering their opinions can move mountains without winning. It’s about momentum. The more votes for a party, the more influence even without MPs.

          SNP is powerful not because of their influence at Westminster but because of government appeasement of their voters’ main concern

      2. Donna
        May 20, 2024

        Voting Reform is a means to an end. We have to break the Establishment’s Uni-Party or nothing meaningful will change. It’s like a 3-legged stool ….. Labour, CON, LibDems …. and very stable.

        But if you break one leg of the “stool” it cannot stand.

      3. Timaction
        May 20, 2024

        No longer a leap of faith but an act of common sense if we want to break the stranglehold of the odious Uni Party and its Civil Serpents and lefty institutions.

    3. Ian B
      May 20, 2024

      @DOM +1
      Brought to you in the name of a fake, or is it deep-flake Conservative Government who have maliciously refused to manage their own activities. What is the difference between the heads of PO, Cameron, May, Johnson, the the Sunak/Hunt duo? They are all there for personal ego, personal self-satisfaction, but are clueless, inept or is it they are just maliciously out to damage everything. What ever way you look it they have not contributed to the well-being of the UK, its people – it has been about self. We all thought Blair/Brown were at the depths of the cess-pit but this crowd have found another level down

    4. Michelle
      May 20, 2024

      +++. Incompetence and corruption all the way. Spot on Doreen

  7. Old Albion
    May 20, 2024

    But surely the senior management in nationalised ‘industry’ is the Government. Why didn’t it step in and control the losses?

  8. Nigl,
    May 20, 2024

    Are you being selective or run out of ink. Meg Hillers report March 24, the latest of many highlighting utter incompetence in MOD, Treasury wasting billions in a naive Covid business loan scheme plus the British Bank handing out loans to businesses that will never achieve scale, Home Office, not fit for purpose, NHS given billions over umpteen years without any sort of plan. Not fit for purpose computer infrastructure across all sectors with a complete lack of project management resulting in vast cost overruns.

    HSBC with trillions of assets, vast transactions on a worldwide basis integrated umpteen legacy systems hardly missing a beat and continues to be at the forefront with Fintech/Block chain and increasing AI.

    NHS still using or just got rid of fax machines.

    ‘Vive the revolution’ if only!

    1. Ian B
      May 20, 2024

      @Nigl, – I get what you are saying, but is it those at the coal face or those we have empowered and paid to Manage? This Conservative Government

      Then they insult us all to shuffle the pack to give themselves in 5 years in office, from the already to long 4 years before seeking approval. How many Businesses would go that long with out referring to their shareholders. That’s the problem, we are no longer shareholders we are the Politicos ‘Surfs’ their personal ‘Slaves’

      ‘Vive the revolution’ if only! – but now probably the only way to clean the swamp.

    2. Lifelogic
      May 20, 2024

      The bank are hugely worse now due mainly to over and rather misguided regulation from government. GDRP, money laundering etc.

    3. Mickey Taking
      May 20, 2024

      The sweet FA have always used Fax machines to receive /send player registration forms, not trusting IT.

  9. Roy Grainger
    May 20, 2024

    And who was the owner of all these nationalised businesses who could have stepped in and fired the managers or closed them down or (in the case of the BoE) told them what alternative policies they should be following at any point ?

    The problem is if businesses are too big to fail or of strategic importance even if they are in the private sector the taxpayer has to bail them out too – the banks for example.

  10. agricola
    May 20, 2024

    Yet another example of government incompetence is the way they place the responsibility of controlling money laundering on high street banks through residual EU law. Money laundering should be the responsibility of our intelligence services, our police force and HMRC. Banks should only advise the above of strong suspicions with evidence.

    With this responsibility and under threat of billions in fines, our high street banks, the epitomy of risk aversion, debank hundreds of thousands of individuals and small enterprises, thankfully highlighted by Nigell.

    And who do we have sat at the top of this insanity but government and their quango the FCA. Too blinkered to remove or rewrite residual EU law along the lines of presumed innocence until guilt is proven . Napoleonic law assumes guilt, putting the onus of proving innocense on the accused.

    For me it is yet another Post Office scandal, but more widely spread. Who is going to pick up the tab as a result of joint litigation against the banks. Government as agents of the taxpayer is my best guess.

  11. Rod Evans
    May 20, 2024

    Unfortunately for us ‘tax payers’ we are constantly having to pay for corporate failure in the private sector also.
    The banking crisis costs are still being paid for using tax payers pockets. The Thames Water company debacle will be covered by tax payers money and on it goes.
    The public sector are the worst because they are completely underwritten by tax payers, The NHS’s endless waste of resources, whether over ordered PPE languishing in a scrap dealers field in Dorset or computer upgrades that never yield an outcome, are then abandoned costing £billions.
    While those are the reported cases the ones unreported are magnitudes worse.
    The bankrupt councils up and down the country owing £££billion in borrowed cash, is a scandal so bad the officials are working hard to stop any reporting. That excess borrowing was allowed by civil servants knowing the financial pain will be eventually heaped onto the tax payers to cover.
    We used to have a democratic system that enabled the voters/tax payers the opportunity of getting rid of incompetence. Now we are cursed with political incompetence and financial malfeasance across the entire political landscape. Our choices are ultimately limited to voting for the least worst….
    The Sir Humphries with their overblown authority need to be returned to civil ‘servant’ status and fast.

  12. Sakara Gold
    May 20, 2024

    It’s better to say “re-nationalisation”. The selection process for too many senior management positions involves men wearing aprons in smoky lodges, and/or choosing folk who can speak the dead language Latin and who come from Establishment families

    Management in the British private sector is just as bad. The difference is, in the private sector the guilty suffer consequences – they lose their jobs/bonuses/options. In the public sector it’s the whistleblowers who get sacked – the incompetent and the usless get moved up a grade

  13. Bloke
    May 20, 2024

    What MPs think about nationalisation is a matter for them. Too many of them and nationalisation itself are incompetent. Each mess contributes to worsening the next.

  14. Donna
    May 20, 2024

    Sir John, you omitted to list the outrageous cost of the Covid Tyranny, currently estimated to be between £310 – £410 billion. The spending controls were so lax, there is a £100 billion difference between the low and high estimate.

    From HMRC “Across the full lifecycle of the three financial support schemes (covering 2020 to 2021 and 2021 to 2022), the total value of error and fraud is now estimated to be between £3.3 billion and £7.3 billion, with a most likely estimate of £5.0 billion (an error and fraud rate of between 3.3% and 7.4% with a most likely estimate of 5.1%).”

    Gee thanks, Sunak. Not even the most basic checks on the money-shovelling process were put in place by the Treasury to identify and prevent fraud. Fancy paying us back? No, I thought no. Move on, nothing to see.

    And that’s just actual spending, before we get on to the long-term economic and societal costs caused by the Tyranny: businesses destroyed; education wrecked; society fractured; suicides, vulnerable children murdered, the hidden abuse with people locked-in with their tormentors.

    Then there are the people killed or seriously injured by the poorly tested, experimental and dangerous gene therapies, which the Establishment is desperate to suppress until the guilty men and women are long gone and can’t be held to account.

    1. Barbara
      May 20, 2024

      Quite. And how many people in the future will be maimed by blood transfusions full of spike proteins from blood donated by the covid-vaccinated, now we know that the spike protein does not stay at the injection site (as ‘the science’ wrongly stated), but goes all round the body?

      1. Donna
        May 20, 2024

        If faced with a possible blood transfusion, tell them you’re a Jehovah’s Witness and refuse it.

  15. Rita
    May 20, 2024

    I robustly suggest lack of accountability is the “why” of the whole issue, Sir John.

    Across the “establishment” those in authority are never seen to be held to account. There appears to be no meaningful oversight on use of public money. It’s become too easy to ignore common sense criteria in decisions made involving many areas, but in this case we are talking of use of public funds.

    I could go on, but that is my (and many others’ I know) perception.
    Lack of accountability, Sir John.

  16. John McDonald
    May 20, 2024

    This is more to do with the people selected to run nationlised industries than the concept of Nationalised strategtic infrastructure. Who selects these people? The Government is the Nationalised industry responsible for the selection of these people. Like will select like and set thier pay and conditions. Should we somehow privatise The Commons and the House of Lords🙂
    The privatised strategic intrastructure is not operating too well at the moment.
    Are the majority of MPs competant enough to run the country ?
    Should their pay be bonus related and paid on results?
    It’s not their money they are spending they do not get a personal financial loss for their mistakes.


    1. Mickey Taking
      May 20, 2024

      Oh to join the Remuneration Committee of some large Government body, ensuring I would be provided with a suitably paid parachute any time it was needed.

    2. Timaction
      May 20, 2024

      Pay them all less until the Country has a budget surplus like my wife and I have to. Spend less, start repaying debt. Stop giving borrowed money abroad. We the 46% can’t afford you. Time limit welfare. Make welfare recipients do something for their communities or……get a job. You’re not embarrassed to make me pay disproportionate taxes, so get on with Reforming the system, you’ve had 14 years!!

  17. Nigl,
    May 20, 2024

    And currently we have two examples of the utter malaise of central government. It has taken five years to get what looks like sensible legislation through to punish reckless cyclists with at least two Secretaries of State making promises but doing nothing plus the bureaucratic tentacles of the blob and secondly the push back against the take over of the Royal Mail.

    Incompetent, loss making too many people losing out to the nimbler more efficient competition. Politicians supporting inefficiency, sums up our hosts topic.

  18. Richard1
    May 20, 2024

    It really does seem the blob is completely out of control, with ministers wringing their hands powerlessly on the side. yesterday we heard that the health secretary Mrs Atkins was astonished and very cross that NHS managers have been persecuting doctors who blow the whistle on incompetence and negligence, and very cross about all the money spent to fight spurious legal cases to cover the arses of blobbites in the nhs management in such cases. How can this be when she is the Secretary of State of health? Why can she not pull in the top dozen or so and say “stop this now or you are fired for cause with no compensation and pass the message down the line”?

    Likewise today we hear Treasury ministers are very concerned that regulators are to make a huge increase in the liability in financial services payout limits. I don’t know whether this is right or wrong I haven’t thought about it yet. But are we not a democracy where policy is determined by ministers and either voted through or not in parliament?

    We need a Javier Milei in the U.K. now.

  19. Bryan Harris
    May 20, 2024

    Excellent article, and nothing to disagree with.

    When are quango bureaucrats going to be prosecuted for wilful incompetence and wasting public money — Surely if that happened the others might just start doing their job properly?

  20. Everhopeful
    May 20, 2024

    I don’t think that donated blood was comprehensively tested until 1985.
    The people who were infected were given blood from about 1970 to 1991.
    So was there some politically correct reluctance to test all blood thoroughly once the alarm bells had rung?

  21. Everhopeful
    May 20, 2024

    Weak govt. ( which we have) leads to corruption and our politicians are desperately encouraging devolution which will lead to the loss of even more control.
    In situations like the PO debacle I daresay there is more to lose than just reputation.

  22. Rita
    May 20, 2024

    Lack of accountability, Sir John, including of those responsible for the public purse. It seems to be lacking across all sectors.

    I believe that would address the “why” of MPs favouring Nationalisation too.

  23. Sir Joe Soap
    May 20, 2024

    The root cause is the producer-consumer divide and lack of transparency one to the other in all these cases.

    We could argue the same is true for social media, which is a privately owned and free market as we can get, but where kids can potentially be exposed to harmful products without sufficient “labelling”. So we get a regulator. But then the regulators aren’t doing a noticeably brilliant job in the guise of Ofwat, Ofgem, Ofcom. Sewage everywhere, and try dealing in any sensible way with an energy of comms outfit! There’s simply more incentive in ripping off Joe Public in all these cases than there is to offer a fair, sensible, safe and transparent service or goods.

    So I think we can say that neither the full-on corporate/private nor the state-run models work. The answer is probably localisation of supply of goods and services. I’d prefer to be able to walk in and bang on the table when goods or services fail, even if the service is slightly more expensive. Why does the NHS have to be so large and monolithic? Where this is impossible, and government has to run things, then the answer is a better system of appointments rather than just throwing the system from state to private/corporate.

    It’s pretty clear for example that the former PO Chief Exec, NHS Chief exec and former PM types then appointing bra-designer crony types to the HOL isn’t the way to go and is likely to end in these sorts of disasters. Most of us could name better CEOs than these, better negotiators than the hapless May, better leaders than Sunak etc

    Nutshell – It’s the appointment of these types which is at fault more than the system.

  24. Everhopeful
    May 20, 2024

    When slavery was the usual work model there wasn’t much room for corruption in the work force. Instant death?
    Feudalism bestowed certain rights on certain groups “ by hook of by crook” etc etc ( My grandparents’ title deeds allowed them to graze sheep on the local common)
    All those rights have no doubt been eroded but as with “sweepings”( the right to take odds and ends from one’s employer) the underlying ethos has scarcely changed.
    Many tales of useful items being brought home from work until employers began prosecuting for theft ( of a pencil …say)
    So did “common practice” move up the food chain. Or unlike at the bottom end was it never tackled? Or having deprived the underdogs did it become entrenched with golden handshakes, bonuses, cut glass decanters at Christmas and so on….?

    All this might cause those at the top to defend their positions more fiercely.
    Personally…I think it was a grave mistake for employers to make enemies out of their employees and for govt. to go to war with the country.

  25. Original Richard
    May 20, 2024

    “These disasters were organised by senior managers paid large six figure salaries and often paid bonuses to celebrate their incompetence.”

    Deliberate sabotage by fifth column Communists as evidenced by there being never any sackings let alone jail terms. The purpose of going woke IS to go broke.

    1. Everhopeful
      May 20, 2024

      Adam Forrest “The Independent” Jan 11th 2024
      “Post Office investigators were handed cash bonuses for every conviction of a branch manager during the Horizon IT scandal.

      Former staff have told the public inquiry that bonus incentives played a key role in one of Britain’s worst-ever miscarriages of justice”

  26. Brian Davidson
    May 20, 2024

    I wholeheartedly agree. In my humble opinion, the next UK Government will make even more mistakes: too many politicians have NO real experience of business.

  27. IanT
    May 20, 2024

    My wife has had a cough for several weeks and has been off her food for the last week (even chocolate – always a bad sign). After another sleepless weekend of her sat up in bed coughing, we finally phoned the Wokingham Medical Centre first thing this morning. After queueing for some 20 minutes (not too bad) we were finally answered and after lengthy questioning, were told there were no face-to-face appointments available but we could e-consult or go to A&E. My wife is concerned that she has a chest infection and would like a doctor to listen to it.

    She was told that she needed to call 111 to get an “emergency” appointment, which we did. A pleasant ‘111’ lady asked even more questions and then went away for a while before coming back and informing us that WMC would call us back some time today for an ‘e-consult’. What a complete waste of everyones time! However, I am sure that both WMC and 111 will record this as another call successfully handled. No normal private business would survive like this (although WMC is clearly doing so).

    I was suprised recently when my 18 month old grandson was unwell and my daughter-in-law (after trying to get him booked into WMC) eventually took him to a private clinic in the town centre (same day appoinment). I understand why now. I guess this is our new reality. How we miss our old Doctors Surgery in Rectory Road. We might have sat there for an hour or two but we did get seen by a real Doctor eventually – and not suffer a pointless phone roundabout.

    1. IanT
      May 20, 2024

      A follow-up note – WMC did call back and subsequently arranged to see her this afternoon. She does have a chest infection and has been prescribed anti-biotics. So I guess All’s Well that Ends Well – but it still seems a very convoluted way of doing things…

  28. Original Richard
    May 20, 2024

    “The Bank of England is the worst and dearest of them all. It has already been paid £50 bn to cover unacceptably large losses on its bond dealing, with much more to come over the next few years according to the OBR.”

    This pales into insignificance compared to the costs of mass immigration of alien cultures and Net Zero, a policy designed to cripple our economy and impoverish the country with rationed supplies of energy, food, heating and transport.

    There is no CAGW caused by increasing levels of CO2 through burning hydrocarbon fuels. A tiny note at the bottom of P95 of the IPCC WG1 (“the science”) states that doubling CO2 increases global temperature by 1.2 degrees C (Happer & Wijngaarden 0.7 degrees C). All the rest of any supposed additional warming is caused by water vapour feedback with a “best guess” (political assessment) as a further 2 degrees C. A totally ridiculous idea given that either water vapour is already IR saturated, as for CO2, or it should be increasing in the atmosphere, which it isn’t and certainly not at the higher altitudes where it would matter.

    1. Mickey Taking
      May 20, 2024

      Looking at that last para – do any self-respecting scientists read that and accept the nonsense at face value expressing wild opinion and no facts?

  29. Ian B
    May 20, 2024

    “The outrageous costs of public sector disasters” 14 years of WOKE deflection from the pretend Conservate, Conservative Government – expenditure out of control and climbing by the refusal to manage. all paid for by the ‘cop-out’ of creating ever higher taxes.
    No interest shown in the economy, in fact it would appear the new Conservative mantra is ‘kill’ the economy. A thriving economy feeds into more tax paid without the need to raise the levels.
    Socialism is renowned for the trait of tax & spend, but the Conservative Government has out done the worst of the worst who proudly call themselves Socialist.

    1. Ian B
      May 20, 2024

      The fault line is this Conservative Leadership and their CCHQ maliciously blocking Conservatives entering the Party. No real Conservative Government would cause such damage such pain to the UK Citizen.

      Is it neglect, lack of management ability, incompetence or are they the wrecking ball of all that is good in the UK, its Society, its People?

      They seem to be hell-bent on punishment and retribution in the name of their own personal esteem.

  30. glen cullen
    May 20, 2024

    NHS Compensation billions, HS2 billions, Net-Zero billions, US Nuclear Weapons & US F35 fighter billions, Immigration billions, BoE Bailout billion, Foreign Aid billions, EU payments billions, UN payments billions, UK Space Agency billions, Regional/City Mayors billions …..and what do they all have in common:

    They’re political wants and not the peoples needs – they’re government follies, government spend that doesn’t need to be spent

    If we didn’t spend that money two things would happen, (1) the people wouldn’t know any difference and (2) the tax bill would be half

    1. Mickey Taking
      May 20, 2024

      glen – I can see sense in NHS Compensation £billions. Now that ‘we accept the wrong arm/leg/ear or wrong kidney/lung/heart chamber has caused some major inconvenience, or likely death in a matter of weeks/months etc payment might do a little to salve the damage’? Even better, one hopes the outcome would result in NHS Trusts being rather more attentive to medical routines and processes intending to avoid further mistakes!

  31. herebefore
    May 20, 2024

    We know what the penalty for similar mistakes would be in Stalins Russia – there has to be a middle ground

  32. Chris S
    May 20, 2024

    The whole structure of the NHS is designed to prevent patients and their families from being treated as customers. We get whatever the heads of the Trusts decide to give us and far too frequently that is found wanting.

    Nobody ever goes to jail and they are hardly ever even dismissed. The Contaminated Blood scandal is a case in point:
    It has been allowed to rumble on until almost all those responsible are either retired or dead. I include here, politicians, civil servants, NHS managers, and doctors, many of whom will have collected gongs along the way. How convenient !

    At least the Post Office managers are still around to be called to account. Is there anyone who doesn’t believe that Vennells and her senior staff and lawyers don’t deserve some serious jail time ? Ten years behind bars, and not in an open prison, would make them sweat, but I suspect that they will somehow wriggle out from under and continue to enjoy their over-generous final salary pensions. That would be a disgrace.

  33. peter lawrenson
    May 20, 2024

    There is one public sector spending catastrophe in progress today – net zero. This will definietely put the UK so far behing other countries with the spend that the politicians of all hues want to commit. Hunt and Coutinho have allocated £60bn to CCS Carbon Capture and Storage – an unproven technology which will make nil diiference to the CO2 in the global atmosphere. Money is doled out to wealthy people for ASHP and EV’s – subsidised by those who can least afford it. I despair.

    1. Original Richard
      May 20, 2024

      pl :


  34. William Long
    May 20, 2024

    This scandal, the recently publicised fate of whistle blowers in the NHS, and the Post Office Horizon scandal have a common theme running through them: a culture of covering any fault up, so that what starts as a containable error turns quite quickly into a major disaster for which no one is prepared to take responsibility, and deal with. In the private world people would probably, quite rightly, be sent to prison for failures such as these, if they were concealed. Why does that not happen in the public sector?
    And perversely, such is my distrust of the ‘Establishment’, I cannot help wondering if the size of the compensation provision does not have something to do with the current Chancellor’s poor conscience, over his failings as Health Secretary: has it had proper independent scrutiny?

  35. Ed M
    May 20, 2024

    When is Tory party going to reintroduce voluntary national service (few months service) like in Sweden – military and / or public service. To toughen up our young men and make them more responsible and patriotic.

    Even the ex-head of MI6 (or 5) recently argued in Telegraph we need to reintroduce National Service.

    1. Original Richard
      May 20, 2024

      Ed M :

      Agreed. Except that it should be for women as well as men and include social service for those who do not want to do military service.

      1. Ed M
        May 20, 2024

        That’s what I meant too. Exactly.

    2. a-tracy
      May 20, 2024

      Have you signed your children up for National Service or the military?

      1. Ed M
        May 20, 2024

        I come from a military family. Grandfather and three uncles. I was in CCF at school – loved it.

        1. a-tracy
          May 21, 2024

          I wasn’t talking about the past. I’m talking about your family’s current generation. Are they all signing up?

          My nephew did RAF for several years; it was good for him because he was going off the rails, and he learnt a trade he now uses in civilian life, but it’s not for everyone, and I wouldn’t force anyone.

      2. Ed M
        May 20, 2024

        My dad’s dad 30 years in British army. My uncle also 30 years. And another uncle 12 years. All great men!

        1. a-tracy
          May 21, 2024

          Did you go into military service? If not, why not? I work with lots of ex-military personnel, and others I wouldn’t force, pressure, guide into national service or the military. I wouldn’t want my children going into forced military service or national service they are all great men and women now, full of character and a hard work ethos.

    3. Mitchel
      May 20, 2024

      Patriotic young men should not be fighting for the Establishment (or its organs);they should be doing whatever it takes to get rid of it.

      1. Ed M
        May 20, 2024

        National Service would not involve front line fighting.

  36. Michelle
    May 20, 2024

    Incompetence, corruption, adherence to and making a priority of the ‘woke’ agenda have put us through the mangle as a nation in every aspect imaginable.
    With Corbyn types in the Unions, we can only ever have a public service used solely for their political wishes, and not one that serves the nation as it should.
    Another incentive for slapdash performance and attitude is the lack of consequences.
    What consequences are there for those in Westminster and the civil service that have led us to where we are?
    It seems none at all. Mr T Blair is a prime example.

  37. The Prangwizard
    May 20, 2024

    Who gets punished in the public sector for incompetence, negligence, etc..? No-one.

    Why does it take years and years? So lawyers can make millions and the guilty can, with the delay, get away with it.

    What will be done to correct all this? Nothing.

    What should the people do? Take to the streets, and mean trouble. Name names. I don’t mean politicians, I mean people who work in the organisations and make the errors

  38. Bert+Young
    May 20, 2024

    Would an alternative Government have done any better ?. Lack of control and direction has been lacking in Government for many years . Margaret Thatcher was the last PM to really put the foot down and re-establish a form of positive direction . Is there anyone like her around now ?; if so how are they likely to emerge and gain support ?.

  39. Original Richard
    May 20, 2024

    There is no CAGW as evidenced by climate activists lack of condemnation of China’s CO2 emissions and hindering the development of nuclear energy. China must be using a different atmosphere to the West….

    Net Zero and electrification is designed to individually control and ration our heating and transport using “smart” meters. CBDC is designed to control and ration food.

    The “outrageous costs of public sector “disasters”” are deliberate acts of sabotage to hasten Net Zero and CBDC.

  40. a-tracy
    May 20, 2024

    In the telegraph it said that The gilt purchases were made in two weeks through the middle of October 2022 and Threadneedle St started selling them at the end of Nov 2022. Buyers paid a total of nearly £23bn for the bonds, netting the Bank around £3.8bn in profit – a return of around 20% 12 Jan 2023? Headline BOE made £3.8bn profit from mini-budget fallout?

    The FT said that pension schemes ended 2022 in overall better financial health owing to their liabilities falling more steeply than the drop in asset values, as higher gilt yields reduced the cost of pension promises.?

    Reply Yes, all true. The Bank also bought £895 bn of gilts at much higher prices which they are still trying to offload at large losses. The pension funds did lose large sums on higher interest rates which give you lower bond prices, but the way they calculate their liabilities say the liabilities fell in value by more than their bond holdings.

  41. a-tracy
    May 20, 2024

    Simon Foy in the Telegraph also wrote in Sept 2022 that Lord Wolfson raised concerns over liability-driven investment strategies with the BoE five years before Oct 2022 and the looming pension fund disaster.

  42. a-tracy
    May 20, 2024

    In February 2024, F J Cumbo reported that UK pension funds lost £425bn in the year of the bond market crisis ‘sparked by Liz Truss’ mini budget’.

    Yet later in the year the FT reported that pension schemes end 2022 in overall better financial health so who knows what to believe.

    reply Probably both true. They lost money on bonds which fall a lot when the Bank hikes interest rates. They then say their liabilities have gone down and they might go down more than the bonds they own.

  43. Michael Cawood
    May 20, 2024

    Unfortunately a Labour government will be even more fast and loose with the country’s finances.

  44. Sakara Gold
    May 20, 2024

    The infected blood scandal shows the NHS and the Establishment in the worst possible light. Not only is there evidence of rank incompetence right up to the top – as is habitual, those responsible then engaged in a cover-up. To the extent that documents and other evidence were destroyed, the victims were threatened with removal of NHS care unless they stopped agitating – and this refusal to accept responsibility resulted in 20 years of patients still being infected and blamed for their own misfortune. Shades of Hillsborough…..

    The worst thing is that it would have been relatively easy to prevent. The big pharma firms involved “pooled” batches of blood from many sources. They could have heat treated the blood and the Factor VIII extracts – killing the HIV, Hep C and HVP virus but leaving the blood & products unaffected. They could have tested each pooled batch of blood – some firms did test, but any infected blood batches were sold to the NHS at a discount.

    Nothing is going to change until we stop prosecuting the whistleblowers and start prosecuting the guilty. The pharma firms involved must contribute to the compensation. The state has covered this issue up for 40 years – along with hundreds of miscarriages of justice. It’s time things changed

  45. AncientPopeye
    May 20, 2024

    They will continue to ‘get away with it’ so long as you in Parliament permit it, as you have done for such a long time. Supervision Sir, supervision?

  46. Donna
    May 20, 2024

    From the Daily Telegraph:
    “The NHS and the Government took part in a “chilling” cover-up of the infected blood scandal that has claimed more than 3,000 lives, a public inquiry has concluded.

    Sir Brian Langstaff, who chaired the five-year inquiry into the NHS’s worst treatment disaster, said doctors, civil servants and ministers had “closed ranks” to hide the truth for decades.”

    Those doctors, civil servants and ministers should all be prosecuted.

    Since it appears to be “normal” for malfeasance of this nature to be suppressed for 30+ years, I wonder if I will live long enough to read about the NHS’s even worse treatment disaster, the mRNA gene therapies and the “closing of ranks” between Government Scientists, doctors, civil servants and Ministers to hide the truth for decades?

  47. forthurst
    May 20, 2024

    In yesterday’s Telegraph it was suggested that the blood products scandal was caused by the actions of well-meaning civil servants. ‘Well-meaning civil servants’ are the reason our NHS system is far worse than those experienced by our continental peers. On the continent it is not considered good practice to put people who spend three years learning something entirely useless in charge of people who spent seven years studying medicine. Arts graduates who study periods of history before germs were discovered might not be as quick to consider the possible adverse constitution of a blood derived product than someone who is medically qualified.

  48. outsider
    May 20, 2024

    Dear Sir John,
    I hear that Mr Sunak has apologised for the infected blood disaster on behalf of “the British State”. Is there such a thing? I thought that the United Kingdom was its people acting in concert, as in our terrible invasion of Iraq.

    “The British State”, I supposed, was an invention of our enemies, such as the IRA and later campaigners against the evil side of our empire hundreds of years ago. This invention sought to create some kind of reponsibility for people who could not possibly be responsible, including millions of British people whose ancestors at the time lived in Ireland, the Caribbean or Eastern Europe, let alone longer term natives who had no vote.

    If there is such a thing as “the British State” as something different from the people and their elected government, then clearly it would not be the responsibility of today’s British taxpayers to fund any bills of compensation for its actvities. “The British State” whatever it is should pay, not the people.

    Perhaps Mr Sunak means the public sector as a whole, including the politicians who are sadly now public sector employees. Of course, people in the private sector are sometimes blinkered from the truth, for instance over the risks from asbestos or cigarettes but, as you say , they face the consequences. If infected blood is the collective responsibility of the public sector then financial
    compensation should logically be paid from a levy of all those who are in the public sector. Same for the Post Office scandal.

    If “the British State” is some other entity, then the people should abolish it. I hope that , as one of the remaining independent-minded politicians, you will give some thought to this cuckoo in our nest.

  49. AncientPopeye
    May 21, 2024

    You could also ask, why has the State not clawed back some of these rewards for incompetence?

  50. ChrisS
    May 21, 2024

    I recall when Cameron was elected and took over as PM.
    I had hoped that there would be fundamental change but, no, everything carried on as if there had been no election at all ! Since then, things have only got worse.
    The move to home working has been taken up by the civil service with great enthusiasm but it’s clear that productivity has fallen dramatically from the low level it was already at.
    We will never get fundamental change in the way our country is run until the Civil Service is given a complete make over. By this, I mean that research discussions, and decisions have to be made much more quickly. Internal conversations need to take place rapidly – by zoom or telephone – and decisions made and implemented within 48 hours.
    Accountability is sadly lacking in every department, but particularly in the MOD and the NHS.
    The debacle over the Ajax APC is a a case in point : Under this £5.5bn contract, most of the money was paid to the contractor before a single finished vehicle was delivered. There is considerable doubt as to whether those to be delivered this year are actually fit for purpose !
    Then, of course, we have the blood scandal. The victims have been treated appallingly and, as has been said, it is the worst example in British history, but who posting here would believe it won’t happen again ?

  51. Yossarion
    May 21, 2024

    the Blood came from america, Why are they not paying up?

  52. Your comment is awaiting moderation
    May 21, 2024

    Fortunately for the taxpayer vaccine damage payouts are limited to £120k
    Fortunately for big pharma they have been immunised from mRNA claims by the Tory government

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