Under this government you don’t get much for Â£1 billion these days. You can soon blow a Â£100 million on fees for advice on a financial matter, and can get through many times that on a centralised computer contract or good pay rises all round for public sector workers. I expect the political classes will soon be looking for a new unit to make it sound more reasonable.
So I have come up with a modest proposal. Why not account in “rocks”. We can’t be quite sure how much a rock is, but it is probably around Â£110 billion. It breaks down into 2 Granites, a smaller unit of account which works well offshore.
Recasting public spending, the total spend comes out at around 5 rocks. The Health Service is a snip at just 1 rock, whilst you can have all the armed services for a year for well under a granite and keep them mainly working offshore.
Total stated public debt is only 5 rocks. Even adding in unfunded pension liabilities, borrowings by a nationalised bank and railway, PFI and PPP you still come up with a very easy sounding 12 rocks of total public sector liabilities.
This could well catch on, and make it easier for the government to carry on spending as if we had all the money in the world.
(Based on a speech given to a dinner in the Great Room of the Grosvenor House Hotel on Tuesday night of this week)