The curious case of DEFRA’s spending and overheads


I asked the Department for Environment, Food and Rural affairs how much they spend on their administrative overhead, and how this is coming down under goverment plans to cut it.

I was most suprised by the answer.  I was told that Defra’s overhead was £739.9 billion in 2009-10, £735 billion in 2010-11, and £732 billion in 2011-12, a modest decline. The problem with these numbers is they exceed total public spending for the years concerned!

I guessed when composing the written answer a mistake had been made, and that maybe I should divide all the numbers given by 1000 to get to the right figures. I decided to check the numbers against the published DEFRA annual report. To my surprise I discovered the same error in that. The table states quite clearly the numbers are £m, when they are probably £000. More interestingly, the Annual Report also records that the “Net resource outturn” (one measure of total spending) for 2010-11 was just 4,736,182, (no units given) yet elsewhere in the Report this appears as £4.736 billion which is the more likely figure.

If we assume the error is a mere factor of 1000 and the rest of the numbers are right, the DEFRA overhead has remained high in the period 2008-12, but is now forecast to come down more rapidly to £646m in 2012-13. What is worrying is that many officials were  doubtless involved in compiling the annual accounts, and more in drafting the answer to my question. Ministers signed off the figures. Cutting overhead costs is  a high priority of this government. You would have thought the Treasury and the Cabinet office would be cross examining the departments on their annual report figures. Despite all this, many wrong figures have been published.  It is also clear no-one reads these publications. If I mistype a figure or word on this blog as I can do, producing it on my own often at speed,  readers usually alert me within the hour to my error and it gets corrected. No-one seems to notice these wrong government figures for weeks on end.

More interesting is where the cuts occur.

“Championing Sustainable development” will lose all admin budget  this year. So will Championing Sustainable development (NDPB), and “Strong rural communities”.  “Sustainable Consumption and Production falls by more than half, to £4.4m from £10.39 m last year.  These seem sensible proposals. “Adapting to Climate Change” goes up from £2.9m to £10 m, a large increase.  It would be interesting to know why.  The Department does not on this plan cut its overall overhead by the 30% of the government policy by 2014-15, but does get it down by a useful 22%.

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  1. colliemum
    Posted June 24, 2012 at 5:25 am | Permalink

    It must be the duty of all MPs to stop the jaw-dropping increase for “Adapting to Climate Change”. Yes, questions must be asked, preferably in the HoC and the relevant committees.

    It is a fact that the policies paid for through these ‘adaptations’ will be paid for yet again, on top of what we’ve already paid for through our taxes, by the increases in energy costs.

    If this government wants a ‘veto moment’, then it should scrap the Climate Change Law.
    Does it not occur to the mighty minds of the MPs that it is ludicrous to pay huge sums of money for ‘adaptations’ to something which is not happening?

    I better stop here, I’m getting very cross now!

    • colliemum
      Posted June 24, 2012 at 5:40 am | Permalink

      And I am getting even more cross after having read this:

      It is past time that MPs take a very close, very dispassionate and very clear look at these policies. The fact that more and more ordinary people have learned for themselves that there’s no catastrophic, man-made climate change and that these monstrosities are not only too expensive a burden for our economy, but are disfiguring our National Parks should, and must, give MPs the impetus to do something!

      • Bob
        Posted June 24, 2012 at 9:19 am | Permalink

        Due to the understandable delays in posting links on this blog I would recommend that you to search on You Tube for “Lord Monckton: UN Teaches Children They Need to Die!”.

        It’s an Alex Jones interview with Lord Monckton at the climate change conference in Rio. A real eye opener.

      • lifelogic
        Posted June 24, 2012 at 5:47 pm | Permalink

        The main thing, surely, is that even if there were a real problem with C02, wind farms would make not one jot of difference. They are just an expensive nonsense cut all subsidy now before we have to have subsidies to remove them too.

      • uanime5
        Posted June 24, 2012 at 8:55 pm | Permalink

        People complain when wind farms are build near their homes and complain when they’re built in the middle of nowhere. As long as there’s no acceptable place to build win farms they’ll continue to be built wherever is easiest.

    • waramess
      Posted June 24, 2012 at 2:37 pm | Permalink

      If you don’t stop we will all get very cross, and that will not do, on a Sunday sftrnoon

  2. Ian
    Posted June 24, 2012 at 5:34 am | Permalink

    Don’t suppose it will make much difference to hard-up British farmers, who come second in the department’s title, after environment, and apparently last of all in the CAP order of precedence.

  3. Pete the Bike
    Posted June 24, 2012 at 6:19 am | Permalink

    No wonder the country is so far in debt. Most of the time the government can’t add up and when they do they cook the books. If they were subject to the same accounting rules and penalties as private business the country would be declared bankrupt immediately and ministers would be held to account in a court. Obviously there’s no chance of the law being applied justly, but it would be fun to see.

  4. Mike Stallard
    Posted June 24, 2012 at 6:27 am | Permalink

    OK so you are checking and look what you have found! (That is what keeps us all coming back to this outstanding blog).
    Why isn’t anyone else checking?
    And the baleful statutory instrument influence from the ghastly EU must have some effect as the Directives are just signed off by a Minister or three on the train to somewhere else. Parliament? Forget it. We live in the 21st century!

  5. Paul Danon
    Posted June 24, 2012 at 6:44 am | Permalink

    Remarkable. Is there an auditor who should know about this? It’s not trivial.

    • Mike Stallard
      Posted June 24, 2012 at 4:17 pm | Permalink

      Please do refer it to the proper place. He’s right.

  6. Brian Tomkinson
    Posted June 24, 2012 at 7:09 am | Permalink

    JR: “More interesting is where the cuts occur.”
    It is difficult to see anything from such confusing departmental reporting (a further example of the incompetence of government) but the one actual proposed reduction you show is exceeded by the increase in furthering the climate change scam. The so-called planned reductions should be £86 million according to your figures and yet you have only been able to itemise an increase of £1.1million. What confidence can anyone have that any real reductions will be made? I certainly have none.

  7. David B
    Posted June 24, 2012 at 7:28 am | Permalink

    Trouble is if they cannot get the simple job of publishing the correct information The trouble is if they cannot get the simple job of publishing the correct information, how can they be trusted to undertake the apparently very difficult task of cutting expenditure.

    I heard Lord Digby Jones on Radio 4 yesterday saying how, in his personal experience, the Civil Service prevents change and has a vested interest in keeping the system as it is. This is a prime example of how to ensure carelessness prevents analysis and ensure no change can be properly implemented and monitored. JR, you have made assumptions that are reasonable, but are they correct and can your figures be used when assessing next year’s performance? The answer is simple – No. We need the correct figures.

    More importantly, the person who was responsible for this fundamental error will not be disciplined or dismissed, but instead they will be moved to another job in a different department, at the same level of pay and responsibility, or even promoted.

    If a private company had submitted information to a government department in a similarly shoddy manor, the government would have imposed fines and penalties

  8. Martyn
    Posted June 24, 2012 at 7:28 am | Permalink

    John, you say “Adapting to Climate Change” goes up from £2.9m to £10 m, a large increase. It would be interesting to know why…..
    Is it not just another example of the smoke and mirror operation beloved of quangos and the civil service? The closure or one or more departments/functions and saving £xm per annum is announced, a token number of staff are let go and the rest moved to work, in this case to the “Adapting to Climate Change” area, who will need additional funding to the extent it almost wipes out the announed savings. Brilliant!

    • Mark
      Posted June 24, 2012 at 3:57 pm | Permalink

      I think it may be the new name for the budget for new curtains and carpets for their offices.

  9. lifelogic
    Posted June 24, 2012 at 7:39 am | Permalink

    It seems that the department are using the usual level of state sector competence and attention to detail. Also the usual level of pointless waste on the usual often pointless objectives – still what is a few billion here or there with this lot.

    JR you seem to have an error in the years in the second paragraph.

    • Caterpillar
      Posted June 24, 2012 at 8:28 am | Permalink

      Dates seem OK, table 2 page 22 of

      (perhaps I am looking at the wrong table).

      Reply. P22 has £m instead of £000. P25 has no units and leaves off 000s

      • zorro
        Posted June 24, 2012 at 6:56 pm | Permalink

        I just noticed that they charge £23.50 for this document when you can get it for free off the internet!


      • zorro
        Posted June 24, 2012 at 7:11 pm | Permalink

        Page 22 – Table 2 – Defra’s Aministration Costs – utter drivel – As you said the table purports to be in millions and comes up with ridculous figures. On page 25, we have a ‘take your pick’ scale which again is meaningless for comparative analysis.

        I’ve just spent half an hour scanning that document and am little the wiser to what they are at……No real executive summary with clear information on figures and finance, just some gobbledegook on ‘indicators’….Give me my half hour back!


    • lifelogic
      Posted June 24, 2012 at 1:23 pm | Permalink

      Good news (unless you live near Heathrow) it seems Osborne is in favour of some new flight system at Heathrow to increase aircraft throughput. We still need the new runways at Gatwick and Heathrow and a HS2 link to get a proper (5 runway) London hub airport though.

      • stred
        Posted June 25, 2012 at 12:08 pm | Permalink

        Increasing the number of flights at Heathrow by systems or extra runways will not work without additional terminals. The new Terminal 5 used by BA seems to be at over capacity already.

        Arriving on time over London after a cross Atlantic trip recently, our 747 had to stack for 15 minutes and was then parked about half a mile away on the wrong side of the runway. The pilot had to phone BA head office because no steps were available and we had to wait 25 minutes for them to arrive. Then there were no buses. After some time 2 buses arrived to transport a full jumbo full of travellers to the terminal. The buses were held up as they were unable to overtake the baggage handling tractor. The pilot had to go back into the plane to wake up passengers who had fallen asleep and make apologies to those who were missing connections. We arrived an hour and a half late at customs.

        Surely it would be more sensible to expand at Stansted, which is nearer to the rest of the UK. A new terminal similar to the existing could be finished in 2 years. Rail and bus connections to the north could also be improved relatively easily. The Nimby opposition is far smaller than around Heathrow and those affected could be bunged off for a fraction of the cost.

  10. Stephen Almond
    Posted June 24, 2012 at 7:46 am | Permalink

    I’m appalled that taxpayer’s money is being spent by people who don’t know billions from millions. Imagine the number of people who must have read this document before publication without spotting the errors!
    The consequences for the people responsible? Nothing at all – they are only dealing with other people’s money…

    • alan jutson
      Posted June 24, 2012 at 8:21 am | Permalink


      The problem is the figures are so large, that they cease to mean anything to most people, and the fact that often used shorthand 000 at the top of any listing does not help.

      If figures were listed as they should be, in full, they certainly would be very long, but then may at least mean something to most people.
      ie: its a very large amount..

      • Leslie Singleton
        Posted June 24, 2012 at 12:19 pm | Permalink

        On any spreadsheet or columnar presentation, if all the noughts were put in, the sheet would be a mile wide. And in America it’s worse what with them starting to think in terms of quadrillions. The other thing to worry about in anything cross Atlantic (as with reporting to an American Head Office) is that Americans use “M” (Mille or somesuch I guess) for “thousand” not “million” which hardly helps and then get angry when one politely tells them they are bonkers .

        • stred
          Posted June 25, 2012 at 12:13 pm | Permalink

          It would be a useful shorthand if the numbers were given in powers of 10, as in physics. Very easy to compare by division too.

      • Stephen Almond
        Posted June 25, 2012 at 8:11 am | Permalink

        I don’t accept that as an excuse in any way.
        We are talking about people in charge of hundreds of millions of taxpayer’s pounds – and they can’t proofread an official publication? Any average private sector report would rise way above this level.

    • Bob
      Posted June 24, 2012 at 9:32 am | Permalink

      There was a time when the mention of the word billion made people sit up and pay attention, but post Gordon Brown the word has been devalued.

      And the era of Mugabenomics continues under Blue Labour.

  11. Acorn
    Posted June 24, 2012 at 8:17 am | Permalink

    According to PESA Table 5.1, DEFRA spent (2010/11) £11.344 billion departmental expenditure. By function category, (not economic category), £3.5 billion on “economic affairs”; £6.7 billion on “environmental protection” and, £1.05 billion on “recreation culture and religion”. I don’t know if there is any CAP money in these numbers or if that is a separate budget somewhere.

  12. Tad Davison
    Posted June 24, 2012 at 8:36 am | Permalink

    Sorry to keep banging on about it, but this is just one of the many reasons why we need strong leadership. That leadership just isn’t forthcoming. Presently, it’s woefully inadequate.

    Waste and mismanagement is endemic. Not just in domestic government, but right across the EU. For instance, we all can see that Barroso is away with the fairies, but UKIP’s Nigel Farage is, to my knowledge, the only leader of a UK party that has had the guts to openly say so. I’m afraid if I saw any one of the others in the street, I’d be tempted to clap my hands in rhythm and chant ‘Weak, weak, weak’ in an attempt to shame them, in the best traditions of Jimmy Goldsmith. They really are that contemptible.

    And it will come to the time when we who have been in the silent majority, will make our voices heard in order to make our true feelings known. The vociferous minority from the left have been allowed to get away with dominating the agenda for too long. If we who are on the right, and in the right, wish to change things, we really do need to be more organised and pro-active. The former Conservative party chairman, Sir Jeremy Hanley, once urged everyone to do the same. He indicated he often felt like a lone voice, and said he was sick of being (going purely from memory) ‘disgusted of Tonbridge Wells’. And he has a point.

    The only reason why the lunatics are running the asylum, and DEFRA seems to be a good example, is because we’ve let them get away with it. Let’s turn up the heat and get our country back before it’s too late.

    Tad Davison


    • lifelogic
      Posted June 24, 2012 at 9:51 am | Permalink

      Indeed but Cameron is just an actor/PR man reading the lines for the bureaucrats – both EU and Whitehall.

      • Mike Stallard
        Posted June 24, 2012 at 4:20 pm | Permalink

        The other trouble, apparently, is the Conservative Party has been disconnected from the Quad. George Osborne is in charge of the conservative Party in effect and he is never there. The result is a growing storm, I read, among the party members who feel, quite rightly, that they have been disenfranchised.

  13. oldtimer
    Posted June 24, 2012 at 8:43 am | Permalink

    I am astonished. Is not the Permanent Secretary formally the Chief Accounting Officer for his department? Or am I out of date on who does what or is responsible for what? Someone should apologise and issue a correction.

    Under the last government, DEFRA had a reputation for wasting money and for offering grants to promote its global warming agenda. I wrote to my MP about one example, costing about £6 million. It included grants to one TU training organisation whose principal source of income was government grants for this purpose. The National Trust was another organisation that clambered aboard this bandwagon for a taxpayer handout to push government propaganda.

    After I wrote to my MP I noticed they pulled the press release from their website. A good question for the minister is how much was spent on the Rio conference and who spent it – the department or by grants to lobbying groups.

  14. Michael McGrath
    Posted June 24, 2012 at 8:50 am | Permalink

    No doubt the authors of the report were jolly good chaps with degrees in latin and greek who use the roman M for one thousand rather than the metric K.

    Meanwhile the “Adapting to Climate Change” budget looks like a simply super wheeze as it covers abstruse (or imagined) concepts and allows for all sorts of job creation opportunities…for the correct chaps and chapesses of course

    • zorro
      Posted June 24, 2012 at 6:27 pm | Permalink

      I don’t want to disappoint you but I very much doubt that they would have been schooled in Latin/Greek…..if only.


      • David John Wilson
        Posted June 24, 2012 at 10:38 pm | Permalink

        Its just more likely that they are confused between the American billion that means a thousand million rather than the one that I was brought up with meaning a million million.

  15. Nick
    Posted June 24, 2012 at 9:06 am | Permalink

    Meanwhile the pensions debts, still missing from the figures.

    Still waiting on the campaign promises to publish the figures.

    Imagine that, a candidate promising something and not delivering.

  16. zorro
    Posted June 24, 2012 at 9:20 am | Permalink

    John, I see that Iceland is doing so badly folllowing its decision not to bail out banks and arrest bankers, that it is growing its economy nicely and is managing to pay back its loans early…..


    • lifelogic
      Posted June 24, 2012 at 9:54 am | Permalink

      Indeed did the UK government ever get compensation agreed for all the bank deposits they had to refund – mind you it was their fault too for not monitoring better?

      • forthurst
        Posted June 24, 2012 at 1:27 pm | Permalink

        Did the government collect the loans taken out by the various (people-ed) involved in the Icelandic bank (collapses)? If the government adopted the banks’ debts, they needed to do adopt their creditors as well.

        • forthurst
          Posted June 24, 2012 at 2:17 pm | Permalink


      • zorro
        Posted June 24, 2012 at 6:19 pm | Permalink

        It was their fault, there was plenty of warning about the promises being given by these private Icelandic banks…caveat emptor….Of course, it didn’t stop imprudent councils parking money which they should have been spending on services into these accounts hoping to make a killing….probably also to help them pay their inflated CEO salaries.


        • Denis Cooper
          Posted June 25, 2012 at 1:36 pm | Permalink

          I don’t think there were plenty of warnings for the man on the Clapham omnibus scanning the “Best Savings Rates” table in his newspaper to find the most suitable account, because they didn’t and still don’t pay much attention to potential risks.

  17. zorro
    Posted June 24, 2012 at 10:03 am | Permalink

    I suppose that the inscrutable accounts are a good follow on from the discussion on qualifications. This does not surprise me one bit to see this in reports. I see mathematical errors on quite a few occasions in these types of publications. Yes, John, you are right – few people probably do read these documents it seems but as long they are written they are seen to be doing a good job – though obviously not when the figures make no sense. I think people get confused when using thousands or millions as units……understandable when in a rush but not when producing individual reports which should be signed off for publication.


    • waramess
      Posted June 24, 2012 at 3:02 pm | Permalink

      Zorro, you say you “see mathematical errors on quite a few occasions in these types of publications”.

      I think you dismiss this a little lightly. Give me an example of ANY public company who has made such an error and you might have made a point.

      I worked in a company where the Finance Director made such an error in his submission to the board and he was dismissed. No ifs and no buts: gone the following month, and rightly so.

      ” I think people get confused when using thousands or millions”.

      Please tell me I am not reading this.

      • zorro
        Posted June 25, 2012 at 5:32 am | Permalink

        I think that you can guess what my opinion is on this….Of course, it is not acceptable. Anyone can make a mistake when working quickly. That is why you have drafts, peer reviews and accountability at a high level. My point is that this is not uncommon from what I have seen. Who are they employing? What education do they have?


  18. zorro
    Posted June 24, 2012 at 10:19 am | Permalink

    Returning to the tax issue, Mr Hamilton makes some very valid points in this piece. He mentions a certain person not mentioning any names but he happens to be the PM who is indeed the recipient of inherited wealth (TAXED WHERE EXACTLY?) and whose green policies appear to be awarding large subsidies to his in-laws…..


    • alan jutson
      Posted June 24, 2012 at 5:12 pm | Permalink


      It was always going to come back and bite him, and bite him hard.

      Seems from todays reports that many of the England football team seem to be overseas investors in some tax efficient scheme.

      The solution is simple.

      Simplify the tax laws with a sensible rate.

      • zorro
        Posted June 25, 2012 at 5:33 am | Permalink



  19. Denis Cooper
    Posted June 24, 2012 at 11:02 am | Permalink

    “It is also clear no-one reads these publications.”

    Apart from officials in the Treasury, surely some of the fourteen members of Commons Public Accounts Committee should read them?

    Isn’t that part of the task delegated to the committee by the House, so that it won’t be necessary for every MP to read them?

    “The Committee of Public Accounts is appointed by the House of Commons to examine “the accounts showing the appropriation of the sums granted to Parliament to meet the public expenditure, and of such other accounts laid before Parliament as the Committee may think fit” (Standing Order No 148).”

  20. Denis Cooper
    Posted June 24, 2012 at 11:19 am | Permalink

    As an aside, I wonder whether the IT problems at RBS have helped people to understand why the government could not have allowed RBS to suddenly shut down its operations even it was bust.

    If necessary, the government would have had to invoke the emergency powers available under the Civil Contingencies Act 2004 to force RBS to keep the payments system going and order its employees to report for work.

    I wouldn’t have had a problem with the government taking emergency measures of that kind, the problem is what has happened about RBS since then.

    • APL
      Posted June 25, 2012 at 11:02 am | Permalink

      Denis Cooper: ” and order its employees to report for work. ”

      Is this the normally sensible Denis Cooper, or have you been invaded by the body snatchers?

      • Denis Cooper
        Posted June 25, 2012 at 2:07 pm | Permalink

        The Civil Contingencies Act 2004 includes “disruption of a supply of money” as one of many circumstances which could constitute an emergency, under its Sections 1 and 19, “Meaning of “emergency””:

        Therefore if necessary the government could issue emergency orders under the following Sections.

        Including under Section 22 not only for the purpose of:

        “protecting or restoring a supply of money, food, water, energy or fuel”

        but also

        “protecting or restoring the activities of banks or other financial institutions”.

        Of course it might well be enough for the government and the bank to tell employees that they should report for work as usual, but if necessary they could be ordered to do so.

        • APL
          Posted June 25, 2012 at 9:17 pm | Permalink

          Denis Cooper: “The Civil Contingencies Act 2004 includes.”

          Just because it is on the statute book, doesn’t mean it should be. That act is a typically despicable Blair enabling act, if we had a Tory government it would have been struck from the statute book.

          Denis Cooper: “but if necessary they could be ordered to do so.”

          That is a silly overreaction. This problem was not caused by people refusing to work, it looks to be an IT cockup. Just goes to show you can pay folk a lot of money, get in IT consultants until they are coming out the wazoo, and all you have done is buy yourself a disaster.

          I guarantee, most of the employees of RBS don’t need to be ordered to go to work. The bank simply needs to offer them a wage, they will turn up of their own accord.

          • Denis Cooper
            Posted June 26, 2012 at 9:04 am | Permalink

            Firstly, while it had some controversial features many of its provisions were already on the statute book, in emergency powers legislation going back as far as 1920 – Schedules 2 and 3 detail amendments repeals and revocations:


            Secondly, it’s necessary to have such legislation to provide a legal framework for extraordinary governmental actions which may become necessary in an emergency situation but which would otherwise be ultra vires or illegal, while trying to ensure that the emergency powers are not abused.

            Thirdly, I didn’t suggest that the government should invoke emergency powers to deal with the present IT problem at RBS, I said that if necessary it could and would have done so if RBS had suddenly shut down its operations because it had gone bust – in which case, most of its employees may well have been told not to come in to work any more.

  21. Tad Davison
    Posted June 24, 2012 at 11:21 am | Permalink

    You know, being totally fed-up with the BBC, I’m presently watching Murnaghan on Sky News. There’s a lively discussion in progress between Labour’s George (now lord) Foulkes, the cross-bencher, Lord Hennessy (hopefully the correct spelling), Michael Fallon for the Conservatives, and Lord Bullshot for the Lib Dems.

    Our host led today’s debate with an expose’ of the profligate and unfettered DEFRA. There are many more departments whose purpose is questionable, and spending clearly not subject to as close scrutiny as should be the case. That’s without even touching upon the financial predicament of this and other nations, caught up in the EU maelstrom. Does anyone else feel that politicians have lost the plot, when they concentrate on things like House of Lords reform, that barely concern the general public, and avoid the things that do concern them?

    I rub my as yet unshaven stubble and stare at the ceiling in wonder. I ask myself a searching question, am I missing something? Is it just me who thinks these things are a distraction from the main event? A smokescreen to draw attention away from the biggest mess since world war two?

    Could it be, they have no solution to the main issues, so just ignore them in the hope they simply go away?

    Is running a country so very different from running a business?

    Many on these pages will know, that if a problem arises in business, the first thing to do is deal with it, otherwise, it may ultimately consume them if left to fester.

    Earlier, I mentioned world war two. In that instance, peripheral issues were very much sidelined, so maybe the politicians haven’t quite yet begun to appreciate the gravity of this nation’s predicament. Unless they get their act together, and soon, God help us!

    Tad Davison


  22. Chris
    Posted June 24, 2012 at 12:47 pm | Permalink

    Regarding the increase in spending on addressing “climate change” it is well worth reading Christopher Booker’s article on this issue, where he invited readers to write to their MPs about the huge costs involved in committing to the Climate Change Act. The apparently uninformed responses received by constituents from some MPs justifying these costs makes grim reading.
    It would appear that it is high time that the full costs associated with this Climate Change Act are subject to rigorous scrutiny, as well as the “principles” on which this Act was based.

  23. Brigham
    Posted June 24, 2012 at 1:23 pm | Permalink

    This is interesting, however, what have you done about it? Who made the mistake? Was it a politician or a civil servant? Whoever it was should be taken to task, and exposed. A mistake of this magnitude should be treated very seriously. I look forward to an update in detail on this.

  24. boffin
    Posted June 24, 2012 at 2:02 pm | Permalink

    According to the statement on p.34 of the accounts, DEFRA incurred a ‘notional’ charge of £350,000 for AUDIT !

    Will any heads roll?

    The Crown Service seems to have been working hard over the past decade to extinguish individual accountability. Can we now be confident that it has entirely succeeded in this?

  25. peter
    Posted June 24, 2012 at 2:40 pm | Permalink

    It sounds like a typical symptom of large bureaucratic government. So much red tape is flying around that ministers and their supporting civil servants end up not seeing the wood from the trees.

    A bit like the banks – the FSA and treasury were so busy inventing new rules for bank regulation that they missed the most important one of all – the shape of their balance sheets!

  26. waramess
    Posted June 24, 2012 at 2:52 pm | Permalink

    I think many farmers will agree that DEFRA is a body that should be disbanded for good. It is worth so little and costs so much.

    If the powers that be cannot find the will to disband it entirely they should look seriously at the possibility of disbanding it from time to time and starting again. The same might be said for the FSA and, I am sure , many Quango’s from which we were previously expecting a bonfire.

    An excellent spot on your part Mr Redwood and pretty indicative of the quality of managment that prevails in these fifedoms

  27. Mark
    Posted June 24, 2012 at 3:58 pm | Permalink

    Isn’t the minister Mrs. Mathwoman?

  28. zorro
    Posted June 24, 2012 at 5:17 pm | Permalink

    Remember I said on a previous blog that the national interest might be invoked in order to shoehorn the UK into a smaller Eurozone area….?…..On cue, look who’s coming knocking at the door…..


  29. A.Sedgwick
    Posted June 24, 2012 at 5:26 pm | Permalink
  30. zorro
    Posted June 24, 2012 at 5:39 pm | Permalink

    “The government should create, issue and circulate all the currency and credit needed to satisfy the spending power of the government and the buying power of consumers….. The privilege of creating and issuing money is not only the supreme prerogative of Government, but it is the Government’s greatest creative opportunity. By the adoption of these principles, the long-felt want for a uniform medium will be satisfied. The taxpayers will be saved immense sums of interest, discounts and exchanges. The financing of all public enterprises, the maintenance of stable government and ordered progress, and the conduct of the Treasury will become matters of practical administration. The people can and will be furnished with a currency as safe as their own government. Money will cease to be the master and become the servant of humanity. Democracy will rise superior to the money power.”

    Or you could let international private banks have effective control of the money supply, crash the economic system with unfathomable credit instruments, and convince politicians to bale them out with the wealth of present and future taxpayers……


  31. zorro
    Posted June 24, 2012 at 5:43 pm | Permalink

    Dame Helen Ghosh was Permanent Secretary at DEFRA until January 2011. She is now in position at the Home Office.


  32. David Langley
    Posted June 24, 2012 at 7:13 pm | Permalink

    Adapting to climate change requires vast meetings in tropical countries in superb hotels. The delegates need of course to travel in airliners at great expense to attend where they all agree as a first principle to hold many more meetings in various countries having a pleasant climate and first class hotels. Their agendas have much impact using strong rhetorical language about impending disasters and rising sea levels and temperatures. Why cant these meetings be included in the trade meetings as its all about money at the end of the day, and without cash commitments there will be no adapting to climate change. As for government figures, who can properly attack or defend them we have little understanding of their makeup or origination.

  33. uanime5
    Posted June 24, 2012 at 8:51 pm | Permalink

    Perhaps the Government needs a computer programme to check that the overheads are correct. Such a system would easily identify overheads that are a thousand times too high.

    • David John Wilson
      Posted June 24, 2012 at 10:31 pm | Permalink

      If they cn’t get the figures right in a printed docuent they are equally likely to enter them incorrectly or differently into a computer programme.

      Garbage in, garbage out.

  34. lojolondon
    Posted June 25, 2012 at 9:12 am | Permalink

    I wonder if DEFRA have a budget for ‘adapting to father christmas and the tooth fairy’? Because we have more chance of being affected by them that by affecting the climate, no matter how much money we throw at it!!
    I guess that an elected, conservative MP will have to sign this budget off, I hope that he notices the anomaly and thinks of the taxpayers he represents when he does so!

  • About John Redwood

    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, and graduated from Magdalen College Oxford. He is a Distinguished fellow of All Souls, Oxford. A businessman by background, he has set up an investment management business, was both executive and non executive chairman of a quoted industrial PLC, and chaired a manufacturing company with factories in Birmingham, Chicago, India and China. He is the MP for Wokingham, first elected in 1987.

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