Defra divides and multiplies its figures

I am pleased to report that I have a letter from Defra apologising for quoting millions as billions, and billions as millions, in their annual accounts. They say they will amend it.


  1. alan jutson
    June 28, 2012

    Thats good news then.

  2. JimF
    June 28, 2012

    So easily done when it’s other peoples’ money

  3. Brian Tomkinson
    June 28, 2012

    How many other basic things do they get wrong?

  4. lifelogic
    June 28, 2012

    If they could just concentrate on getting the £billions (of largely wasted money) down to a few £millions that would be great for everyone (other than the current recipients of all the waste).

    I see David Willetts has waded in to the University (lower grades for foreign people who pay in full debate). He should have said Universities are businesses and need all the foreign and other income they can get this money will help them offer a better service to UK (and EU alas) students too. If a student can not cope, after taking up a place, they can always leave or change to study Divinity or the rather more useful “golf course management” or similar. What has the University or the Country got to loose so long as they pay the full rate with a profit and leave when they have finished. We just get richer, and hopefully better, universities for all.

    It does not mean they have to dumb down they might just need to stream a little. So what if they have the money to do it?

    1. zorro
      June 28, 2012

      They may want to have more foreign students….That’s OK as long as they are genuine university students and the authorities are funding more spaces for UK students, and not diverting the money elsewhere.


  5. APL
    June 28, 2012

    Defra isn’t the only organisation that cannot add and subtract;

    Stunning news from Spain, Bankia the countries third largest bank is worth minus 13billion EUR.

    The board has resigned, betcha they all retire on full pension.

  6. stred
    June 28, 2012

    I note that the current minister for DEFRA is Mrs Spelman, who seems to be a version of Mrs Jowell as minister for explaining mess ups, and whose husband is a senior partner in the biggest management consultancy in the world.(see Wiki) There must be some interesting conversations at home. As the ministry handing out the largest subsidies to wealthy farmers for non-farming, let’s hope there are not too many similar errors.

    1. stred
      June 28, 2012

      Perhaps, JR you could ask the Dave to circulate an easy reference on numbers to ministers and the Treasury officials signing off reports.

      10 to the power of 3= one thousand 1000
      10 to the power of 6= one million 1,000,000
      10 to the power of 9= one billion 1,000,000,000
      10 to the power of 12= one trillion 1, 000,000,000,000

      How to use: example the population of the UK is 60 million( approx)
      This is 60 x 10 to the power of 6.
      The planned national debt is 1.4 trillion plus non funded pensions of 1.5 trillion= 2.9 trillion or 2.9 x 10 to the power of 12
      To work out how much each citizen of the UK will be in debt, take away the powers- 12 -6 = 6 and multiply by the first numbers 2.9 divided by 60
      = 0.048 x 10 to the power of 6. This means that every citizen will owe 0.048 million. To convert to thousands multiply by 1000
      Answer £48,000

      As I only studied maths to O level, please check this. It would appears that previous estimate of debt on this blog may have been double this figure, but it is still nearly twice that of Greece. Surprisingly no-one corrected the over estimate.

      1. stred
        June 28, 2012

        Sorry the Nov 18 2011 blog gave debt a 1T in bonds+1.4T bank debt+ 1.3 unfunded state pension = 3.7T so adding the OAP would total 5.2T, giving £86,000 per citizen, or a bit less if we can find the ones who arrived unchecked from Disneyland.

        1. stred
          June 28, 2012

          Plus private debt of 3T gave the original figure of around 6.7T total. So roughly we have 50/50 public/private totalling about £100k per head at 67k population.

        2. lifelogic
          June 28, 2012

          Shame we do not have the gold sold off by G Brown that would have helped to the tune of £400 per head. Sell of the gold then devalue the currency with you policies as chancellor! Surely if he new he was going to devaluation sterling he should have been buying gold and borrowing in sterling? Still it was not his money I suppose.

          1. zorro
            June 28, 2012

            He justified it by saying that he was investing it in Euros and that had been a good bet….legendary judgement.


  7. Brigham
    June 28, 2012

    Just a slip of the pen then. That’s ok. It won’t interfere with their pensions or salaries, will it? By the way I remember being moderated by you, for my scathing comments on Lord Turner when he took over the FSA. The word incompetence was removed. I feel vindicated now.

    1. A different Simon
      June 28, 2012

      Brigham ,

      A verdic of incompetence gives Lord Turner the benefit of the doubt that he did not deliberately obstruct proper regulation of the financial services sector .

      Look at the completely awful job he did in his review of pensions .

      There is a reason why people like Lord Turner , John Hutton etc get comissioned to produce reports ; it’s because they are hugely competent at giving the politicians exactly what they want – perpetuation of the status quo .

      Contrast this with Frank Field who dared to think the unthinkable back in (Tony) Blair’s first term .

      1. APL
        June 29, 2012

        ADS: “it’s because they are hugely competent at giving the politicians exactly what they want – perpetuation of the status quo .”

        Perpetuation of the status quo, meet drastic loss of funding capability.

      2. Brigham
        June 29, 2012

        Another Simon,
        I said incompetent because the alternative was to call him a crook, and I did not want to risk that.

  8. Mike Stallard
    June 28, 2012

    “They will amend it.”

    As quickly as the DfE adjudicate of Free Schools?

  9. Barry
    June 28, 2012

    Just another example of Defra going on in the same old way and faiingl in the same old way

  10. oldtimer
    June 28, 2012

    It is errors such as these, no doubt, that account for DEFRA being known as the Department for the Elimination of Farming and Rural Affairs by those subject to its ministrations.

    Still it is good to have an apology. Did they give a reason?

  11. Mark
    June 28, 2012

    Oh, whenever the Emperor
    Got into a temper, or
    Felt himself awkward and shy,
    He would whisper and whisper,
    Until he felt crisper,
    This odd little rhyme to the sky:

    Eight eights are eighty-one;
    Multiply by seven.
    If it’s more,
    Carry four,
    And take away eleven.
    Nine nines are sixty four;
    Multiply by three.
    When it’s done,
    Carry one,
    And then it’s time for tea.

    A.A. Milne

  12. Steven Whitfield
    June 29, 2012

    Any organisation reflects it’s leadership to some degree – this is what we should expect with ‘Mr Slippery’ David Cameron in charge.

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