What do you get for £10,000 a year?

The government is now spending on average £10,000 a year on every man,woman and child in the UK. Or, put another way, we have to pay £10,000 a head on average to the government in tax to keep them going. As children do not pay tax, that means the average taxpayer has to pay well over £10,000 a year if you add up all the taxes you contribute to.

So what do you get for your money? Is it a good deal? I just get my dustbin emptied once a week, and am allowed to use some inadequate roads.
I don’t mind being asked to help pay for the neighbours children to go to school and I don’t begrudge my elderly neighbour a free knee op.
I am not so sure about contributing to all the government’s wars, and become livid when I have to pay for regional government, an army of spin doctors, the rising number of civil servants, and the glossy brochure industry that is a substitute for government action. I dislike having to bail out the odd mortgage bank and railway company, and resent the ever expanding quango state regulating every feature of our lives, at our expense

I would like to hear from more of you about which bits of public spending you think are worthwhile, and whether you feel you are getting your £10,000 worth today?

And why am I doing two blogs today, like yesterday ? Because the weather is so bad I have lost both cricket matches this week-end I was hoping to play in. That just about sums up this summer and this year’s rain sodden cricket season.


  1. no one
    September 7, 2008

    re "I don’t begrudge my elderly neighbour a free knee op" i think you will find your elderly neighbour has paid well over the odds for that op, if they ever get it, waiting lists run by nhs managers which do not show the true numbers of people needing treatment fail to highlight the numbers of people who have paid into the system but never get the treatment out when they need it

    and of course most people end up having to pay again cos the nhs fails to deliver the op

    or get left to die when for instance prostate cancer patients are just left to die from early diagnosis to death with no treatment other than pain relief, no op, no radiology, just left to die far younger than in similar western nations

    so i think my biggest problem is paying so much tax into an nhs which does not deliver

    id be happy to pay an equivalent amount into a proper state backed medical insurance fund that paid out to the patient when they needed treatment, and let the patient take the cheque anywhere they wanted, and didnt own or operate any of the providers of care

    opening up competition for the benefit of patients and staff in the medical business

    oh i dont like funding "speed camera partnerships" which do not address the real road safety issues, ie poor road design by councils, driving too close to the car in front, too few traffic cops, etc, and criminalise the vast majority of safe drivers while leaving the nutters free to do as they please

    i dont like funding the nhs compaints process that never results in any positive improvements to service, and which is generally a whitewash

    i dont like subsidising free car parks for patients in nhs hospitals in scotland when i have to pay a fortune

    i dont like paying for the national id card fiasco

    i dont like paying for so many single parents to have council flats for their kids to have such a poor education that they too become unemployable and they need to have kids in order to get state housing, i dont like funding a perpetual wasteland of state handout dependant wastelands, i want them to have MUCH better educations so that they can contribute at the next generation

    i dont like paying for idiots like CJIT and others in the criminal justice system, really where are the real leaders who can help drive down crime? and prioritise the spend much better

    i dont like paying for fancy fast jets for the RAF when the troops on the ground in afganistan have to buy their own kit as the stuff provided is so poor in many cases


  2. James
    September 7, 2008

    What do I get for my money, lets see

    A primeminister I'm ashamed of.
    A government I dislike
    An Opposition that gives me some hope
    A Borough Council that's turning itself into a Unitary Authority at great expense
    A fortnightly bin collection that resulted in a maggot infestation
    A police force that took THREE days to respond to my last 999 call
    A local hospital that allowed an aged parent to die without dignity and dehydration (findings of Healthcare Commission after my complaint)
    Roads in a worst state than i've ever known them in 30 years of driving
    I could go on and on but you asked for worthwhile spending and none came to mind.
    Somehow, a bit of bad weather pales into insignificance ……….

  3. James
    September 7, 2008

    The government spends £32 billion a year on defence, and about (if I remember correctly) £120 billion a year on quangos. Have I got the quango figure wrong? I think we've got our priorities muddled.

  4. Neil Cuthbert
    September 7, 2008

    Well the £10k also pays for national defence and an efficient system of justice. Easy to forget but these are two of the main roles of Govt that have been around since the start of civilisation.

    1. Andrew Forbes
      September 8, 2008

      so a 10% saving in the quangocracy could give us a 37% increase in defence spending. Even the MoD couldn't spend all that on their office furniture.

  5. Anthony Taylor
    September 7, 2008

    (Para left out)
    Also I resent so many millions being sent to poor countries
    when we all know it will mostly end up in Swiss bank accounts.

    And the enormous sums being wasted. It has been apparent that the country has been bankrupt for some years. God knows what it is really like.

    Enjoy your blog. Keep it up.

    Best Wishes Anthony Taylor

  6. Johnny Norfolk
    September 7, 2008

    Television advertising.

    Telling us not to smoke, Threatening us about TV licence,How to claim.How to drive. Think Bike.Not to drink to much, The list is endless. What a waste of money.
    I rember what I was younger I thought the TV companies did them for free as their contribution to society. The shock I had when I found out I was paying for it.

    John you have done it this time, have you the space to fit in all the lists of wasted money. This is what has brought us to where we are.

    Labour, the party of wish lists, only spending money never making any.

  7. Neil Craig
    September 7, 2008

    I have found the pie charts here of th proportions of money raised & spent quite useful though they have a severe shortage of detail.

    I'm sure "Social protection" + "personal social services" at £197 billiion could be cut.

    "Housing & environment" is £23 billion & I believe if interference in house building was ended, meaning that houses could be built at 25% of the present price we could do without a lot of that while being better off.

    While I would, in the short term, increase the £21 billion spent on transport, this would be to automate & build modern rolling stock for the railways. After that I think they would profitable.

    I've no idea what the £67 billion spent on "Other" is but am sure we could do without some of it.

    That amounts to have the £618 billion spent (or to be fair significant cuts in that half).

    As a general rule big companies look for about 2.5% efficiency savings each year & I see no reason why government departments can't be required to do the same. The Scottish government have made that their touchstone though there are probably even greater efficiency savings possible there.

  8. David Hannah
    September 7, 2008

    In my view, the only duty of government is to uphold the liberty of all citizens, and to defend the nation against all enemies. All other activities are not duties, but luxuries (if one can call them that). Thus, the Armed Forces, Police and the Courts should be the top priorities.

  9. Tony Makara
    September 7, 2008

    I should like to see more pay-as-you-go social amenities, paying for access to a well kept park or recreation area, with exemptions for mothers with young children. Many amenities could literally pay for themselves and we wouldn't be forcing everyone to pay for something that they don't use.

    There is certainly a case for a mass audit of government spending at local and national level. It is indeed a bizarre situation when the poorest people in our country don't have access to dental treatment, while at the same time the government can lavish, not millions but billions, on failed projects like the New Deal, which has overseen a 20% rise in youth unemployment. Imagine if the prime minister announced tomorrow that he was winding down the New Deal to free-up money to enable dental access for the poor. However Mr Brown lacks the political aptitude needed to apply public money where it can have a real-life effect on people's lives.

  10. Blank Xavier
    September 7, 2008

    I read recently that the US Government directly owns 30% of the land in the USA. I then read of a case where an entirely competent wielder did some work on the side and was put into jail because he couldn't afford the license.

    I see in general taxation rises over time; both directly through increases and new taxes and indirectly through inflation.

    I note also the ever-increasing centralization of power and the mis-use of law to provide artifical protection to professions by providing barriers to entry.

    I get the feeling of the mass of people being *crowded out* by the State. Of paying more and more, of being able to do less and less, of being *consequently repressed*.

    I don't think the State or anyone in the State wishes to repress others; it merely is the emergent behaviour of State.

  11. Bazman
    September 7, 2008

    Local income tax would be a disaster on a national scale. Does anyone seriously want to have the council taxing you? The idea is insane. Some areas would be derelict with sky high bills and others would be tax havens. In both cases the councilors would be living in luxury driving top of the range cars. Even now they no money for anything, but no problem finding the cash for new offices. You can be sure the Soviet Union is alive and well in Britain.
    I don't even trust the council with Direct Debit.

  12. Rose
    September 7, 2008

    I most dislike the social and racial engineering that goes on, particularly in local government, and costs a vast amount of money. It usually ends in corruption, but along the way it causes resentment and alienation and these invariably have the opposite effect to that intended. Sometimes it feels as if the beneficiaries of this public squandering actually want to foster disunity and conflict in order to expand their empires.

    What I would like the money to go on is security, the old fashioned variety, and good transport and clean streets.

  13. Freddy
    September 7, 2008

    Worthwhile – armed forces and emergency services, of course, though I would like to see the money spent far better than it has been.
    Not worthwhile – public sector pensions, which are going to cripple the rest of us. These need to be put onto a properly funded basis, so the next lot of socialists can't buy their client voters without properly accounting for the cost.

  14. no one
    September 7, 2008

    re "an efficient system of justice" no it doesnt, in the uk system the side able to afford the more expensive legal team wins 99.9% of the time

    there is no justice for the ordinary working folk

  15. Angelin
    September 7, 2008

    What's worth the money?

    Decent MP's like you John, who tell us as it is and what it could be.

  16. Chris Rowsby
    September 7, 2008

    The present situation of our country reminds me of a Berlin
    cabaret song from the twenties;

    'The left betrays,

    The right dismays.

    The country's broke,

    And guess who pays'

  17. Stuart Fairney
    September 7, 2008

    I dislike the fact that all problems have four basic solutions in Labour Britain

    1. More taxes
    2. More regulation
    3. More politicians
    4. Spin and dis-information

    Usually, the answer is the very opposite of the above. This is only half humour! Consider every Labour pledge or solution of the last decade and it can be categorised into the above four.

    In fairness, I am perhaps doing them a dis-service, I should have added a fifth

    5. Sending other people's sons (but never, never your thier own) to die in foreign wars and being to busy too meet the parents of dead heroes because they are schmoozing some important celebrity

  18. Matthew
    September 7, 2008

    John, didn't you vote in favour of the Iraq war and for the replacement of Trident?

  19. Adrian Peirson
    September 7, 2008

    Of course we Don't get value for Money, We are simply under a Dictatorship that hoovers the Nations wealth ever upward into the Vaults of the Elite.

    Incidentally I didn't see your Blog listed on the Telegraph, maybe you are doing something that the Elite don't like,
    Keep up the Good work.

    Video from Larouche on the US Economy and the British Empire. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UE0VaUm51z8&fe

  20. Bazman
    September 7, 2008

    Does anyone think they could live on £10,000 a year? £833 a month. £200 a week. A pertinent question anytime. If you can't, then you should phone your Mum.

  21. adam
    September 7, 2008

    I dont know where the money goes, ive never looked. For me its a secondary concern.
    My main concern is crime/justice then big brother/dictatorship, in that order. Everything else is a far secondary to those.

    I suspect a lot of money has gone into redesigning society to fit the new regional architecture rather than value for money service improvements.

    Money could be saved on consultants.

  22. Patrick
    September 7, 2008

    I suspect that it is all spent in Scotland, Wales and Manchester. There is not much evidence of it being spent in Wokingham!

    Perhaps the motorways are empty and prescriptions are free up there.???

    It would be really good to know where every penny was spent.

    Surely, Its not what governments spend it on but how they spend it. Ie Computer systems that dont work, Helicopters that dont fly, expensive court cases which are lost, endless re-organisations etc etc.

  23. APL
    September 7, 2008

    JR: "I would like to hear from more of you about which bits of public spending you think are worthwhile, and whether you feel you are getting your £10,000 worth today?"

    There is the £10 billion paid to the European Union each year in return for which, we get our servitude and the destruction of our agriculture and industry, the eradication of our (once) civil society and its replacement with snooping government inspectors.

    Personally, I don't think it is worth it.

    Chris Rowsby: "The right dismays."

    Isn't that the truth.

  24. David H
    September 8, 2008

    You only pay £10,000 tax!!! My last bill was nearer £100,000.

    Arten't I a lucky bastard? No, I feel that my money has been totally wasted and I feel very angry about that.

  25. Eddie Allen
    September 8, 2008

    This blog isn't long enough to sqeeze in all the spending ( drain tipping ) achived thus far by Labour but I agree with you Mr Redwood.
    Wars, bureacracy we don't need, social welfare to disguise the unemplyment figures, knock the schools and hospitals down and build new ones ( utter madness ), computers we don't need, private contractual arrangements which mismanage the jobs, lose our data and yet can't be penalised or held to account by the stupid government.
    Giving away our money to solve the debt problems of others ( very nice to be asked ), heaping "aid" into other economies in order they can train people to take our jobs ( yet more madness ), tax us some more because they haven't got sense enough to see giving our EU rebates away would leave the country a bit short.

    Pumping money into nationalized banks whilst having no measure of influence to make sure they do the right thing with it ( eh ? ) you mean we can't tell Northern Rock what to do ?

    Giving away the £9 billion to utility companies which they paid us to start with when buying said utility companies from the taxpayers ( that sounds like we've gave our money away and our utility companies ) –

    But there's more though isn't there ?
    We have Trident, armed forces and updated military equipment because the other stuff is full of sand ( I mean you can't plan for that if you're fighting in a desert unless you have a brain in your head of course ), then he's gone and ordered those aircraft carriers which even the navy say are not needed ( ? ) – Noone knows what they will / could be for so insert yes into this box when asked is he stupid ( ……… ).

    Thank god there is an end to this nightmare ! Isn't there ?

  26. Donitz
    September 8, 2008

    Had this discussion with my Hen Pecked neighbour. His wife, lovely as she is, big socialist guardian reader ect.

    He on the other hand; I believe is a secret Tory living in fear of said wife.

    After debating what 42% of GDP has bought us, he tentively put forward health and education.

    True, virtually impossible to fail any exams these days and grade A's are every where. Aparently, waiting lists are down at the local NHS Trust too.

    Oh' how we laughed……………………

  27. Neil Craig
    September 9, 2008

    The prime purpose of government is to pay government employees & let them empire build. As a society we are richer than ever in history & can thus afford ever more parasitism.

    The stage at which government spending was needed for real welfare solutions is long over & an ever greater amount of government spending is going into regulating the productive part of the economy out of existence (we have 200,000 Health & Safety enforcers which partly explains why building projects like Crossrail, the Dome & the new Forth Bridge cost 13 times the actual building costs), repealing the laws of physics (windmills subsidies) & nannyism (smoking ban, chips in your bin to make sure you aren't using it & this).

    So long as governement is permitted more money it has to use it for something.

    This is not original here but I am putting it up as a rule of thumb when considering whether spending in any department should increase. Sometimes it should but the working assumption should be against.

  28. Machiavelli
    September 9, 2008

    Tax is theft.

    Actually I DO begrudge paying for everyone else's children. My view is that, if they can't afford to bring up their own children, they shouldn't have had them in the first place. It's surely not too much to expect couples to be responsible with regard to the frequency and timing of their reproduction?

    P.S. always enjoy reading your blog – good sound common sense. All lefties should be forced to read it.

  29. Bazman
    September 10, 2008

    All children for the Fatherland Machiavelli.

  30. […] excellent John Redwood MP, for saying what we are all surely thinking about tax. John asks the question; “what do you get […]

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