Controlling public spending

It’s that time of year again when spending is reviewed. Every year I have been in Parliament spending has gone up, and every time all the debate has been about cuts. That’s the way the public sector likes to organise its debates. There are cuts in forecast increases, cuts in real rather than cash spending, cuts in baseline budgets that overstated the spending, and sometimes even real cuts in real activities. Whatever the cuts made total spending goes on upwards and upwards in cash terms, and usually in real terms as well.

This spending round is a bit more significant than normal. it is the start of a probable five year Parliament, and the start of a Conservative government. The government does wish to control the rate of increase in total spending. It has also ensured real increases in defence, pensions, schools, the NHS, overseas aid and the EU payments, so it needs to probe more incisively the other spending areas that do not have one of these special protections.

This week MPs have been lobbying the Chancellor and the Chief Secretary over what they would like to see in the new budgets. I am therefore inviting all of you to make your requests known.
Some of you will want to cut overseas aid and end our payments to the EU. Those options are not on the table as far as the government is concerned, though ending the EU payments is in the power of the British people when we get to the EU referendum.

MPs have been proposing a number of good ideas. The huge expenditure on climate change research, administration and policies could be usefully cut back. After all, as the proponents tell us the science is now completely settled, why do we still need people studying and researching it in government departments?
The large land banks of the state sector are far bigger than any likely operational needs. It is time to sell some of that land, and to get some of it into better use for homes or commercial premises.
The vicious circle between Housing benefit, higher social housing rents, and larger surpluses by housing associations could be altered to give tenants and taxpayers a better deal.

What are your ideas?


  1. Dame Rita Webb
    October 22, 2015

    Scrap all non contribution based benefits then watch the ripple effects both here and abroad.

    1. Narrow Shoulders
      October 22, 2015

      This would be a good start and would (if priced with due regard to risk as per any insurance policy) cut public spending at a stroke.

      It would be enlightening to break out the annual increase in costs to the taxpayer of those unable to speak English. Children hailing from households deemed English as a second language attract a fifteen hundred pounds premium, likely backed by a further thousand pounds deprivation adjustment and added to by the pupil premium of thirteen hundred pounds. This doubles the average per pupil funding of four thousand pounds. Other direct costs of not speaking the native language are translation costs, additional time and language courses run at the taxpayers’ cost.

      An Australian points visa system would surely prevent those to whom a direct cost to the country is likely from arriving.

      A growing economy from increases in capita does not necessarily assist the individuals within that economy. Japan’s population and economy are shrinking but the individuals are thriving.

      1. Dame Rita Webb
        October 22, 2015

        The big savings come from stopping payments to our home grown feckless. The amount the state handouts to immigrants is peanuts in comparison.

        1. Narrow Shoulders
          October 23, 2015

          That would be an interesting piece of research. 5 million odd immigrants with access to free schooling health and other in and out of work benefits plus access to housing versus our own breed of no or intentionally low hour workers getting housing, schooling health and other in and out of work benefits.

          Both classes cost too much for this net contributor.

    2. Christine Constable
      October 23, 2015

      Surely the simplest way to get rid of waste in the system is to insist on zero based budget costings, rather than allowing departments to seek the same as they had last year plus inflation. There is huge waste in the system and every department should be tasked with an efficiency saving target. I think huge amounts of administration could migrate to websites and do without staff, so much is already providing a better service to users, on line registrations and visas; licence renewals, everything administrators do should be reviewed with a view to cutting staff (ideally through natural wastage) and improving efficiency. Money given over to “projects” is also a huge waste – I myself have been involved in “projects” where large sums of money have been given by government departments to try out this or that, often nothing ever comes of the project and to all intents and purposes the funds are wasted. I think a much tougher scrutiny of project funding needs to take place and a rationale that it can be self sustaining should the project be successful and not rely on further project funding. Project money should be given to effect efficiency savings.

  2. Anonymous
    October 22, 2015

    Either scrap the EU government or the British one – I don’t much care which as we’re utterly f****d either way.

    It will save a lot of money only having just one government *not* running our country rather than two *not* running our country.

    Personally I’d rather have no government *not* running our country. I really do think we’d be better off without.

    1. Lifelogic
      October 22, 2015

      Indeed it is worse than that we have four or more levels of government all fighting with each other. The EU, Westminster, Wales, Ireland and Scotland and local government. Then we have the multilevel court system and the many arguments between then to fund. It is like some malignant parasite slowly killing the patient it feeds off, this while delivering little but worthless dross.

      I see that Theresa May condemns lack of diversity in police forces. Why? If people apply to the police they should clearly be considered on their merits. If they do not so be it. What she is clearly suggesting is clear (totally immoral and counterproductive) discrimination against groups who do not qualify as “diverse” in her terms. Visibly diverse I suspect is all she really wants perhaps just for photo opportunities.

      1. Iain Gill
        October 22, 2015

        The number of chauffer driven cars, on the public purse, driving members of the Scottish government and parliament around is outrageous. Do we really need their obscure junior ministers in a limo?

        1. Lifelogic
          October 24, 2015

          Perhaps better than cycling with the chauffer following with the bags, in the Cameron PR stunt mode?

          It is nearly always “do as I say not as I do” for these purveyors of greencrap.

      2. Iain Gill
        October 22, 2015

        And yea Theresa May is wrong on a lot of counts. Discrimination, which she wants more of, against white males is still discrimination, and discrimination is just as bad no matter who its done against. Particularly when its white males with working class accents she is picking on. She is also wrong in her analysis of the reasons for knife crime going up, it clearly is to do with a reduction in “stop and search”, and also to do with large crime gangs from abroad now having rights to enter this country.

      3. Denis Cooper
        October 22, 2015

        I’ve noticed that there is still a lack of diversity in symphony orchestras, even that of the BBC. But then if boys and girls from some sections of society don’t have much interest in learning those instruments or playing that kind of music, despite every encouragement that is being offered, then that is hardly the fault of those children who do have a go at it.

        1. Lifelogic
          October 24, 2015

          Indeed but the cameras do make the most of any visible “diversity” they can find in such orchestras.

          Just as the BBC seems nearly always to find female engineers, builders and scientists to film. This despite their relative sparsity on the ground.

      4. fedupsoutherner
        October 22, 2015

        I see today that the House of Lords has overturned the Conservative motion to stop subsidies for wind farms in 2016. They have argued that the Renewables Obligation scheme doesn’t fall under the title of subsidies and it has to be put off for now. Get rid of the House of Lords. They are a waste of our money. One Lord actually had the neck to state that it was only lone farmers receiving the money which helped them to keep farming. Excuse me, but all of the farmers that surround us have been farming for many years, have multiple homes, multiple vehicles and multiple holidays each year. Most of the farmers in our area are hosts to 6 or more turbines and many landowners have large wind farms on their land consisting in some cases of up to 99 turbines. I don’t know where most of these Lords live but you can bet your life that most won’t be affected by large wind farms like the average person can be. What do they care?

      5. Anonymous
        October 22, 2015

        Lifelogic – The police have literally bent over backwards trying to redress this imbalance, from dropping height restrictions to aptitude requirements.

        There is paranoia in the rank and file about being politically incorrect (I know a lot of officers) and the diversity budgets are large. The only conclusion is that the recruiters must be racist.

        They should be disciplined and outed.

        Perhaps newly arrived people of colour could be fast tracked into the job – or perhaps a recruitment drive conducted abroad.

        There are also complaints from the Home Secretary that the police are still stopping and searching too many black men.

        I agree. The police should withdraw from areas with high levels of knife crime rather than risk offending sensibilities. They could stop and search old ladies to redress the balance as they do at airports but they stopped venturing the streets at night decades ago.

        Thank you Ms Kitten Heels. Not for good fashion but for showing us that Nu Labour are still in power.

  3. petermartin2001
    October 22, 2015

    The question of controlling public spending is always related to the question of the deficit. That is how much tax revenue can be generated. The difference is what has to be borrowed by selling gilts.

    Who are the buyers of those gilts right now? Nearly all purchases are by the central banks of the big exporting countries who don’t wish to spend all the pounds they earn selling us stuff.

    The only way we can avoid selling these gilts is to close the trade gap. Close the trade gap and we don’t need to sell gilts to overseas buyers. It must follow that the budget deficit will be balanced unless there’s an increase in the number of domestic buyers which there perhaps could be. Would that be such a big problem?

    1. Mike Stallard
      October 22, 2015

      And would;t it be awfully nice if we could make some real contributions to global trade at global level too!

    2. Edward2
      October 22, 2015

      But we wouldnt need to sell all these gilts in the first place if we did not keep spending more each year than we raise in tax.

      1. Lifelogic
        October 23, 2015

        Spending? – Mainly “wasting” if you look at what government actually does and how little value is actually delivered to the public.

        Aircraft carriers without aircraft, counter productive wars, absurd wind and PV subsidies for complete engineering nonsense, HS2, Swansea “lagoons”, payments to augment the feckless, payments to the damage inflicting EU, endless government propaganda, a slow over priced, multi level & arbitrary legal system, the dysfunctional NHS, second rate schools and Universities, the over and ill conceived regulation of virtually everything, an absurdly high and hugely over complex tax system, a very expensive open door immigration policy (£24K PA per person recent figures suggest), £10M+ for Julian Assange……. the list is just endless.

    3. Bob
      October 22, 2015

      How can the UK close the trade gap while it dances to the tune of external regulators resulting in high production costs?

      We can’t even build our own power stations, so we contract out to China, to whom we still donate foreign aid.

      Those whom the gods wish to destroy they first make mad.

      1. Gary
        October 23, 2015

        Why do people still get suckered by this “aid” scam ?

        You mean aid, as is give “aid” to Tanzania to buy a air traffic control system from your mates that Tanzania did not need and the system did not work !

        Aid is a method of funneling handouts to govt chums and buying influence disguised as some nebulous feel good, charitable ultruism.

        Wake up !

        1. Lifelogic
          October 24, 2015

          Much truth in that.

        2. Lifelogic
          October 24, 2015

          A similar process with the green crap grants for wind and pv farms too.

    4. JJE
      October 22, 2015

      When the government borrowed a few billion a year there was a ready market for those gilts. Now the demand is dangerously low. We are at the point where an auction could fail. The market might actually demand to be paid some interest.

      1. petermartin2001
        October 24, 2015

        That would be good. The treasury could sell some more bonds to the BoE. If that had the effect of lowering the value of the £, that would be good too.

        After all “we’re living above our means”me – right? So we’re getting the Chinese to make our steel and build our nuclear reactors! When we’ve plenty of capability to do those things ourselves. That’s the sort of thing the beancounters think is a good deal when our beans are overvalued!

    5. petermartin2001
      October 22, 2015

      @ Edward2,

      But we wouldnt need to sell all these gilts in the first place if we did not keep spending more each year than we raise in tax.

      That’s the conventional line of thinking. We’ve tried that and it doesn’t work. I’m suggesting we think laterally. Figure out some way of stop selling the gilts and watch both deficits (trade and budget) close.

      Yes agreed. The China nuclear arrangement is crazy. If there’s a couple of lines hidden away in the compiled code which controls the reactor which we’d never find (they’d just be ‘0’s and ‘1’s) it could be programmed to self destruct under certain circumstances.
      If we really wanted to tackle the trade deficit we could do it. We just need to export 2.6% more and import 2.6% less What’s too hard about that? It wouldn’t be any more painful than what’s happening at the moment. It just takes a Govt with some guts to make that decision and do it.

      1. Edward2
        October 24, 2015

        PM “we have tried that and it doesnt work”
        We have not tried it.

        But what we have tried has not been very successful.
        We have sold gilts to finance deficit spending for year after year.
        And increased taxation.
        And held interest rates artificially low.
        And done QE as a form of money creation.

        1. petermartin2001
          October 24, 2015


          We’ve tried reducing the deficit by spending less and taxing more and that doesn’t work. We ( and I’d include the experience of other countries) know it doesn’t work in practice and we have good a understanding why it doesn’t work in theory.

          So if it neither works in theory nor in practice why are we persisting in trying?

          1. Edward2
            October 25, 2015

            You must live in some kind of alternative world Peter
            We have not reduced State spending, it is rising.
            Unemployment is reducing and we have growth in the economy.

          2. petermartin2001
            October 25, 2015

            So why has tax credits been cut? Austerity, in an economic sense, can be described as the economy being depressed due to there being insufficient aggregate demand to create conditions of full employment. Full employment would mean what it used to mean in the post-war period. 35-40 hour weeks, for everyone wo genuinely wanted work, with a pay packet at the end of the week that was sufficient to meet basic family needs including housing.

            If there is large scale unemployment, and/or underemployment, and/or poorly paid employment the government will feel the effects in two ways. Firstly taxation revenue will be lower than it should be – for obvious reasons.
            Secondly, spending will be higher than it should be because of the need to pay out social benefits even to those who are employed.

            So austerity economics can’t simply be measured in terms of government expenditure. It has to be measured in terms of all the money flows in the economy. Government spending, taxation revenue, and the loss to the economy of money needed to pay the net import bill. At the moment the govt deficit, (the difference between govt spending and govt revenue) isn’t enough to pay the net import bill. Therefore the economy is getting poorer and austerity is increasing.

            The economy is dangling by thread. If there is any growth, that was entirely because there was an election to win in May. A combination of a small Keynesian stimulus, by temporarily forgetting any “return to surplus” pledge, and a private credit induced asset bubble was enough to do the trick. That’s all about to end and we’ll be back to recession big-time as the recent spending cuts take effect.

            Reply Employment up, wages up, real wages up, unemployment down, GDP up – that’s not austerity on the rise

          3. Edward2
            October 25, 2015

            You feel the State can by a wave of its magic wand create all you want by extra spending.
            I feel if the State creates the correct conditions then the private sector of the economy will respond.
            In Euroland they are trying your policies yet they result in no growth and rising unemployment.
            To say the economy is “dangling by a thread” is a nonsense

    6. Denis Cooper
      October 22, 2015

      “Who are the buyers of those gilts right now? Nearly all purchases are by the central banks of the big exporting countries who don’t wish to spend all the pounds they earn selling us stuff.”

      Absolutely not true, and I challenge you to produce your evidence.

      1. petermartin2001
        October 23, 2015


        Neil Wilson does a good job compiling the UK sectoral balance data on his blog. You might like to Google (3spoken UK Sectoral Balances – Q2 2015)

        At present the both Government and Private Domestic Sector (essentially the whole of the UK economy) are in deficit to fund the trade imbalance. So there’s desaving going on locally. There’s no stimulus at all from the Govt’s deficit. This is a worse position that we were in prior to the GFC in 2008 so the economy is hanging by a thread at the moment. That thread is tied to a credit bubble of the Govt’s making. If that thread breaks or the bubble bursts ……..

        If you were picking me up on not using the word ‘net’ ie the “net buyers of gilts at the moment” then I take your point. There’s always a lot of buying and selling of gilts in locally too.

    7. Mark
      October 24, 2015

      According to the DMO there has been no ongoing net sale of gilts overseas since about 2012, as you can verify here:

      I’d suggest charting from about 2005 to see the more recent trend in the stock of gilts held overseas more easily.

      Our overseas bills are paid for mainly through selling and mortgaging domestic assets (companies, houses).

      1. petermartin2001
        October 24, 2015

        It is true that a deficit in the current account has to be offset by a surplus in the capital account. Everything does have to balance in the end. That balance is normally maintained by selling gilts but it can include the real assets like you’ve mentioned. Land, companies , property etc.

        So if what you saying is right, that is much more worrying than I originally thought.

  4. Lifelogic
    October 22, 2015

    Osborne has totally failed at the one thing he needed to deliver – to cut public spending (which is largely public waste anyway). He prefers massive tax grabs from the productive thus killing his tax base.

    The public sector, when pensions are included, is paid about 50% more than the private sector and for fewer & more sociable hours, plus they take far more sick days. Correcting that alone would take over a third of the spending away.

    Then they are hugely over staffed, particularly in the higher level non productive departments. Worse still many departments do nothing of any use and many people actually have the job of inconveniencing the productive sector hugely. On top of this much activity is about paying people to be feckless and encouraging them not to get a job.

    There is no reason (other than lack of politicians with back bones) why the public sector could not halve its costs and still deliver far better services than it does.

    The “free” NHS and schools prevent nearly all (far more efficient) private competition and deliver an appalling level of “service” to the public. Get out of those areas for a start and just reduce taxes, issue education vouchers and provide only a basic health safety net. Give tax relief for private medicine and private schooling to reduce demand on the state system.

    Figures suggest that NHS is killing people at about one jumbo jet full every two weeks due to poor or no treatment. I suspect even this is an underestimate not to mention the loss of working days while people wait ages for (often last minute cancelled) operations.

    Stop HS2, stop the absurd subsidies of wind and PV, stop payments to the EU, sell off the unused land and building – the fat available to be cut is huge.

    Control the borders so that as far as possible only those who will be a large asset to the country are allowed in.

    The scope is huge but Cameron and Osborne are weak and feeble socialist at heart. Cameron’s priority in three letters N H S is killing many people every single day.

    1. Iain Gill
      October 22, 2015

      Yes I have seen first hand sub third world service from the NHS again this week. The national consensus amongst politicians that means none of them will really challenge the NHS really needs to change, I cannot believe they don’t know about some of the stuff I see. Its a national tragedy we subject our people to this rubbish. Its a national tragedy that we don’t empower the normal cycles of consumer choice to ramp up service. And so very much more.

  5. Lifelogic
    October 22, 2015

    I see that the Cambridge Union EU debate starring JR is now on the Cambridge Union youtube site. What a joke the arguments from the IN side are (in as far as any were actually made).

    1. WillH
      October 22, 2015

      Thanks for link LL. Really good stuff from Mr Redwood as usual, how come such sense is so rare in those that control things?

  6. Mike Stallard
    October 22, 2015

    “The huge expenditure on climate change research, administration and policies could be usefully cut back. ”

    China’s energy production is around 8 cents a unit, whereas ours is above 20. The climate change industry has killed off our aluminium production and now is busy wrecking the steel industry. Then there are all those virtue signalling taxes on top. The face of the man from Redcar said it all: complete incredulity and despair.
    But – hey! We need to make a few sacrifices to save the Planet which, let me remind you, is the only one we have!

    1. Lifelogic
      October 22, 2015

      Indeed and all the high by government decree energy prices do is freeze the poor, export the jobs & the C02 production, probably actually enlarging C02 emissions in the round.

      But Cameron like Carney likes the “Dynamic” EU and all the green drivel. Such great pictures you get on the white ice with those huskies! Who cares about the real science with nice pictures like that?

      I think “Dynamic” is about the last thing that comes to mind when I think of the EU. How does Carney come up with this utter drivel?

      Hammond still says the EU has an important role in controlling UK working directives. Why? Were we not promised subsidiarity. They are a matter for workers and employers really, not even the UK government very much.

      It is quite clear from Hammond the negotiations are a total sham nothing of any significance will be delivered or even asked for. Cameron is in a hole and is still digging. He should come out for leaving if he wants to win the referendum.

    2. fedupsoutherner
      October 22, 2015

      Totally agree Mike. It is a national disgrace what is happening to our country.

    3. stred
      October 23, 2015

      The decision to let the steel industry go seems to be pointing to a deliberate policy, concealed by attributing the blame to reasons beyond control. The EU commission gave permission to compensate for double electricity costs according to V.Cable. If true why not offer to do so, if not why not just change the policy, which is ours own? The next reason is our inability to stop dumping, but this has not killed of the German steelworks yet and the EU could stop it if they thought it would.

      Then ministers say that the Thai owners would have to be compensated and a huge amount paid to their overseas account. But they are bust and the works is in administration. Any new owner could be given new electricity prices and business rates at a cost that was viable for strategic industries.

      The oddest thing has been the intervention of Speaker Bercow in the Commons. He told Javid Savid to shut up when he was addressing the problem and had gone over 2 minutes. Then at PM’s questions a Conservative MP asked whether the opposition side realised that the high electricity costs were the result of their own policies and Speaker told him it was not allowable, as it was not about government policy. Perhaps there is an acceptance with most parliamentarians that DECC has decided we must get rid of high energy dirty industries and live in the new ‘smart’ world. Closing Redcar and others will certainly help avoid any embarrassing power cuts this winter, and they will not have to be paid to shut down temporarily.

  7. Tim
    October 22, 2015

    I wonder how much money is given in grants to charities who then use that money to campaign for more money from Government? Could Government not remove itself from the relationship and allow people to choose for themselves which charities they wish to give their money to?

    1. forthurst
      October 22, 2015

      The BBC gets £4 billion from conpulsory subscriptions and direct from the taxpayer, this to fund an organisation which as a result of a concerted campaign of entryism by a alien clique, now promotes people and ideas which are anathema to all right-thinking Englishmen.

      Either the BBC has to be deep cleansed which would require a patriotic government, an unlikely event, or it needs to derive all its income including for BBC World Service from voluntary subscriptions. It is unreasonable that people have to pay the BBC to watch any live broadcasting although it is surprisingly easy to manage without, it having become so degraded.

    2. Lifelogic
      October 22, 2015


      Furthermore so many charities are not what I would consider to be charities at all. I would hugely limit charitable tax reliefs.

  8. Edward2
    October 22, 2015

    The fairest way is to have a zero increase overall for every department.
    If inflation is zero why are increases required?
    But allow them to keep any surpluses developed in any year through to the following year.

    There needs to be stricter controls over redundancy payments and six figure salaries and early retirement deals and final salary pensions and the use of consultants.
    All are far more generous than companies in the private sector.

  9. margaret
    October 22, 2015

    When we are talking about spending it is often a matter of who can make a better case for their project. Apart from HS2 and similar I can only understand this from a perspective of the NHS. When Nurses were in charge of the budget of their wards we had to make a special case for anything outside our allowance and consider how overall it would be ore cost effective.
    Early on the BBC yesterday Dr Hani Bharaj who undertook his Phd on my research unit in 1995 talked about monies being directed into primary care to educate the public and patients into avoiding the terrible consequences of uncontrolled Diabetes Mellitus. This disease is a growing problem and because of it’s prevalence is almost accepted as an unavoidable consequence of a modern lifestyle. Not a great deal of extra money needs to be spent with reorganisation and the money saved in the long run would be enormous.

    I have a quarter of an hour in my consultation I can fit investigations ,physiological tests, treatments, referrals a full clinical examination into that period if I am lucky, but teaching a patient needs time and repeated appts; although I do this , document it ( remember every little thing has to be documented) continuing with a structured programme on site would avoid endless un followed up referrals where there isn’t any satisfactory out come and those terrible consequences occur regardless. Patients want to stay and be handled by practitioner with an all round expertise, not catapulted to all different specialities on a regular basis.

    1. Iain Gill
      October 22, 2015

      Yes scrap HS2. If we need a new line between London and Brum just do it with simple none electrified line and diesel trains for about 5 % of the cost.

      1. stred
        October 24, 2015

        Cost of not taking away tax credits before giving compensating pay rises- £3.5bn (spectator blog) Cost of HS2 £80bn+ inc trains. HS3 probably 50bn. Hinkley nuke 24bn. Stonehenge tunnel……..

    2. forthurst
      October 22, 2015

      Is it the responsibility of the medical profession to alert the population to the adverse consequences of the Western diet? Perhaps instead of grooming children from an early age into believing that those suffering from an abnormal reproductive syndrome are normal etc, they could be taught that a normal feeling of satiation which has evolved in animals over time is revoked by foods and drinks with an abnormally high sugar content. (Teaching the adverse medical and social consequences of profligate sexual behaviour would also be appropriate). I have just checked and found that most naturally occurring plant-based foods contain a maximum of five percent sugar; in fact, I could surmise that phtyalin rather than being for digestion is an adaption to alert to the energy rich content of a food. If it is appropriate that packets of cigarettes should display dire health warnings and suffer from extremely high levels of taxation, then why not sugar-rich foods and drinks?

    3. mike fowle
      October 22, 2015

      Isn’t this part of a bigger problem. Neither you nor the patient has much say about how you organise your time or what the patient wants. It’s all a top down system, still predicated on the notion that the gentleman in Whitehall really does know best?

  10. Ian wragg
    October 22, 2015

    Although it’s off the table, no one will believe you will eliminate the deficit whilst you continue to waste billions on foreign aid and EU payments.
    2 weeks ago I told you we didn’t have enough men to staff our ships. It now turns out you are looking at EU and commonwealth personnel to make up the numbers. What’s wrong with recruiting more British.
    Why are we letting China design, build and operate a nuclear power station. Why don’t you issue infrastructure bonds for the general public.
    There is much more you could do to save money and reduce the trade deficit but you would rather continue with tax borrow and waste as usual.

    1. stred
      October 22, 2015

      It was good to see the BBC Politics programme finally get the point that the Hinkley deal was twice as expensive as a similar one being built by the Finns. Unfortunately the job of interviewing the minister and a green dope, who thought wind was predictable, was given to Andrew Neil’s assistant, who he calls Joko, She spent most of the interview finding out whether wind was predictable and could be used instead of nuclear, then rather uncertainly asked why it was so expensive and mentioned the Finns half price job! The minister just glossed over it in a few words and that was that. Andrew Neil would possibly have had his legs off but was kept out of it.

      Not to disappoint viewers who like to see BBC incompetence, they had an article on the World News just before the politics today about permafrost melting in Alaska. The warmists fear that large amounts of methane will be given off and this is many times more warming than CO2. The reporter was down in a tunnel through the permafrost and pointed out the bits of frozen stuff hanging down. The scientists were worried that all the carbon might come out apparently. Then he mentioned that there was a pong caused by the carbon. Carbon dioxide is of course and odourless gas. He had probably not heard of setting fire to the contents of the digestion exit of animals.

  11. alan jutson
    October 22, 2015

    I always think Budgets should be fixed at no more than 80% of last years known revenue.
    Chances are you then will not need to borrow anything.

    All spending Budgets should start from Zero each year, and ALL expenditure questioned.

    John, Whatever happened to Richard Green’s investigation and report, did anyone action it ?

    Simplify the tax system, simplify the tax system, simplify the tax system.

    1. forthurst
      October 22, 2015

      Surely Richard Green was for robin’ the rich to give to the poor rather than the opposite?

    2. Leslie Singleton
      October 22, 2015

      Alan–Don’t hold your breath on simplifying the tax system. First, it gets more complicated each year (Just look at what is going to happen next year on Dividend Income Tax Credits–unbelievable and un-understandable) and, Secondly, it would take decades to flush out of the system the complexities and changes built up over the years. If one is assessing or reassessing a position e.g. 10 years ago the tax law that needs to be applied is of course that as it was 10 years ago–no easy task and one of the biggest wastes of time known to man. This latter I had explained to me 50 years ago while qualifying and that was when matters were much more straightforward. If no more changes to tax laws were made at all, starting now, it would be 10 or 20 years before the system became meaningfully simpler.

      1. Leslie Singleton
        October 24, 2015

        Postscript–I should have said that even if the current law were simplified (indeed thrown out altogether) and never changed again it would still be a decade or so before the tax system simplified

    3. petermartin2001
      October 22, 2015

      ” I always think Budgets should be fixed at no more than 80% of last years known revenue. “

      So what happens if revenue is the same as last year?

      The government ends up with a surplus of 20% in terms of revenue to taxation. So the economy has lost that 20% of its spending power paying taxes for no good reason. That’s about 8% of GDP.

      Then there is the net import bill of 5% of GDP to pay. That means in total the economy will have lost ££ to the value of 13% of GDP.

      And no prizes for guessing where they will come from! The bank accounts of you and I !!!

      1. Edward2
        October 23, 2015

        Well they could return the surplus back to the people they took it off in the first place, leaving them with a little more money at the end of each week to spend on themselves.

        1. petermartin2001
          October 23, 2015

          Yes, the Govt could do that but they’d no longer be in surplus.

          1. Edward2
            October 24, 2015

            Not if they gave back a little less than the whole surplus.

      2. alan jutson
        October 23, 2015


        “So what happens if revenue is the same as last year

        It means you are in surplus for the year, so you could pay off some of our massive debt, or carry some of it over into the next financial year when the rules can be relaxed a little in some areas.

        I do not think the Government would have a problem spending some of it.

        We could even invest perhaps in some infrastructure projects that will make us more efficient in the future.

        1. petermartin2001
          October 23, 2015

          Alan Jutson.

          You’re thinking in the same way as you or I would for our own personal finances. If we have a surplus ££ this year we can use them the next year.

          Govt isn’t like that. If it’s in deficit it can create extra IOUs (either cash or bonds) to cover its spending. If it’s in surplus it can only put them in the shredder. So if wanted to stimulate the economy it might create new ones. If it wanted to damp down on inflation it would want to put some in the shredder.

          This is just like you or I would tear up own IOUs when we get them back. If we save them for next year then it’s just to save ourselves the trouble of writing out new ones.

          1. Mark
            October 24, 2015

            It would be nice to think that government chose to spend in ways that generate a real return when they seek to stimulate the economy – then that spending would be productive, and reduce future burdens. However, when it chooses to spend in ways that produce negative returns – and worse still, ring fence them, we are left helpless.

  12. Narrow Shoulders
    October 22, 2015

    I should like to see the term “relative poverty” removed from funding decisions.

    (Non-contributions based) welfare should be a safety net to avoid destitution not provide a relative position (obvious disclaimers about the genuinely needy apply).

    I should be interested to see the breakdown of the spending increases in your time in parliament by services and handouts. I would wager that much of the spending increase in real terms during your tenure has arisen from welfare (housing benefit, tax credits, JSA and support etc) rather than spending on the country as a whole. There is also the elephant in the room of state pensions and, more so, public sector pensions which future governments will withdraw from with the advent of the workplace pension (tax).

    Scrap HS2 in this spending review too.

    1. Iain Gill
      October 22, 2015

      Certainly families where one of the bread winners paid into the system the majority of their adult life should be getting significantly more out than those where they did not. Include widows/widowers to take account of their dead partners contribution in this and its a good policy.

    2. stred
      October 22, 2015

      The chair of the Sussex police committee complained ages ago that police pensions cost as much as the service. Since then the service has shrunk and their chiefs are warning that they do not have enough staff. I think they used to retire at 45 and go off to take other jobs or live on golf courses etc. But they complain that they spend much more time working on paperwork and computers these days. Surely the coppers that are to old or unfit to be chasing criminals could be given the office work and retire at 65+ like the rest of us.

  13. Richard1
    October 22, 2015

    Cut green subsidies and Hs2. There are numerous other areas for public subsidy to be cut. Eg Virgin Group has pointed out that BT – 31 years after privatisation – gets a large subsidy for providing broadband. Cut that and make the market competitive, then we might actually get rural broadband. It must be possible to do a bottom 10% exercise throughout public sector bureaucracies and save billions thereby and get the same or better service as a result. Nor should there be any areas – such as overseas aid – where it is ‘illegal’ for Parliament to vote a cut. The starting point should be how much tax are we going to extract from the economy – 30% like Switzerland (why not 20% like Singapore which has better healthcare and other services than the UK?),or even 35%? Spending should then be cut to match it. The moral case for budget balance should be made to counter the barrage of ‘keynesian’ drivel from leftists, supposed experts and amplified by the BBC.

  14. Antisthenes
    October 22, 2015

    It is now obvious that climate change scientists are barking up the wrong tree CO2 is not the danger they claim (the IPCC is most woefully wrong of them all as they are not a scientific body but a political one). So certainly climate change research should be scrapped however that does not mean we have no research to do we have and that is to find a way to rapidly reduce the amount of pollutants that we are producing and clean up the ones we have already produced. CO2 has got a bad press because it is the same processes that produce CO2 that produces the pollutants.

    We are also making untrue assumptions by saying that human activity is destroying the planet it is not. Gaia is well capable of repairing any damage humans can do as is demonstrated by it’s constant repairing of damage that nature does naturally which is as bad or even worse than what we do. The problem is that human activity is dangerous to humans and that is something we have to address. So we have to spend money on this problem but at least if we do we will be spending it considerably more wisely. Perhaps then not much savings to be made there.

    The scope for saving money in other areas is huge but it requires a fundamental change in thinking. Our current thinking is that the state should be the arbitrator of all things connected to our lives from cradle to grave. To achieve this governments have to be large, bureaucratic, authoritarian and monopolistic a recipe for digging a large money devouring hole. Some of us know that governments by their very nature do things badly there are no incentives strong enough for them not to. Change the some to most and the rethink will be achieved and the bit by bit we can transfer most of what government does from the public sector to the private sector. Then we will see that we will receive value for money as productivity picks up, wastefulness is reduced, efficiencies improved and choice will be restored to the individual and not just the preserve of the politicians and we know what is best for you brigade.

    Let us start with the EU a level of government we absolutely have no need of it does not achieve anything that cannot be achieved better in other ways. That may come about unlikely but possible. The next step then to take the hatchet to UK governance is going to be an extremely difficult task as having put in place a culture of dependency and entitlement which is now part of most peoples mind set few are going to let that happen.

  15. JimS
    October 22, 2015

    My local authority seems to have an infinite budget for erecting poles behind trees to carry pairs of speed limit signs, poles stuck in the pavement at random to carry ‘repeater’ speed limits, white paint to paint big ’30’ or ‘2o’ signs on roads. Also for ripping up roads to install cobble strips that, presumably, are intended for pedestrians to walk on, (pity the infirm). Then there are all the blue and white signs to encourage idiots on bikes to ride at 14 mph on pavements, half facing the wrong way, and the signs, (ignored), to tell cyclists not to use the pavements.
    However it has cut back on public toilets.

    1. Lifelogic
      October 24, 2015

      Indeed such are their “priorities”.

  16. DaveM
    October 22, 2015

    The two areas you describe as being ‘off the table’ are obviously the two areas the majority of people would tell you to stop.

    Just some common sense John, that’s all that we ask. Common sense, charity begins at home, and stop the criminal levels of waste.

  17. JJE
    October 22, 2015

    Remove all the welfare incentives to economic migration. Introduce the Australian points system to bring in people we need. Stop paying welfare payments to people not in the country. (I don’t count pensions as welfare).

    Then tell us just three things that the government is going to stop doing. e.g. get rid of the department of culture media and sport.

  18. Martin
    October 22, 2015

    What is the point of releasing land for housing when all the local nimbys will oppose it? Abolish the nimby planning laws.

    Of course there is my often repeated point about airport commissions. The Ministry of Transport has mountains of these reports. Just build it!

  19. Glenn Vaughan
    October 22, 2015

    If I’ve understood him correctly, the present Governor of the Bank of England believes that Britain’s membership of the European Union has delivered a dynamic economy for the UK.

    We are living in a dynamic economy (?).

  20. Old Albion
    October 22, 2015

    Stop handing out £130M/yr in child benefit for children who do not live in the (dis)UK.

  21. bratwurst
    October 22, 2015

    HS2 scrapped? Won’t happen; TEN-T. Transport is an EU competency.

    Of course, the solution to that is obvious.

  22. DiscoveredJoys
    October 22, 2015

    There are some relatively easy ‘cuts’ that are well overdue. What happened to the ‘bonfire of the Quangos’? Why does the Government pay charities to do relatively unsupervised work that the Government should do or that is not required?

    But I’d suggest that a counter-intuitive change is required. Substantially simplify the planning permission laws, including repeal of the less sensitive parts of Green Belts. Encourage local and central government to reduce planning staff numbers (no more filling of vacancies until this is done) and reap the benefit of increased tax take arising from the increased activities of building more houses and factories.

  23. Iain Gill
    October 22, 2015

    Most people will argue for high levels of spending or lower taxes, let me buck the trend and list spending reductions and tax increases I would like to see:
    Remove the exception which means work visa holders don’t have to pay national insurance, employers or employees, in their first 12 months in this country. Tax increase.
    Remove the disparity in expenses allowable between Brits working far away from home within the UK and foreign nationals here on work visas. Ensure work visa holders cannot get money tax free which Brits cannot. Tax increase.
    Increase the price of work visas, open the allocation up to bidding so that the highest bidders get the visas. Tax increase.
    No free school places for the children of families where nobody at all in the family is entitled to indefinite leave to remain here, except people in the process of having their asylum case considered. So stop people paying 10 K student fees to come here while getting 18 K worth of free schooling for their children for that year. Stop work visa holders from countries which would not provide free schooling to British children in reciprocal circumstances from getting free schooling for their children. If they cannot afford to educate their children while they are here without free state places then don’t grant them visas. Spending decrease.
    No free NHS for people without indefinite leave to remain who are from countries which do not provide free healthcare to Brits in their country. Make them pay commercial medical insurance rates before granting them a visa to stop large numbers with expensive pre-existing condition coming in precisely because they need treatment. Spending decrease. Put in place special measure for areas of medicine where there is limited private provision in most of the country, diabetic care etc, so that people can come and pay their way but still access care. Spending decrease.
    No more intra company transfer visas for any company with more than 20 staff in the UK where more than 10% of their staff are in this country on such visas. Spending decrease as fewer Brits displaced from the workforce.
    Merge the RAF into the Army and merge their senior levels. Eliminate one whole bureaucracy. Spending decrease.
    Disband all speed camera partnerships. Spending decrease.
    Sack all phlebotomists in the NHS and make the requesting medical professional do the blood taking there and then. Reduced cross infection and spending decrease.
    Sack all PCSO’s. Totally ineffectual. Use the money to hire a few more proper police. Spending decrease if done correctly.
    Stop index linking of all public sector pensions for all new starters. They can buy pensions from the private sector like everyone else has to. Spending decrease.
    Remove the special branch protection on Tony Blair. Really the numbers of coppers allocated to him is way over the top. Spending decrease.
    Stop all road thinning and other various anti-car measures. Spending decrease.
    Abolish clinical commissioning groups, form a small central function on the model of a medical insurance company which simply issues cheques to NHS patients when they are diagnosed to take to absolutely any provider of their choice. Spending decrease.
    Old station master houses, houses on national trust land, houses on council land (old park wardens houses etc) preserved for one reason or another. Open them up for people to live in. Spending decrease.
    Active crackdown on tax evasion and avoidance by large corporates. Tax decrease.
    Decrease MOD civil service and consultancy headcount by 30 %, ban them from hiring more than one per extra service personnel hired. Tax decrease.
    Stop the DWP IT and business change programmes currently in flight. They are far too far behind, and founded on quick sand. Move all tax and benefits issues to HMRC for one team to simplify and run. Stop the nonsense if HMRC IT systems taking money from people only for DWP IT system to give them it back. Real radical simplification of tax and benefits which reduces admin costs significantly while still providing for those who need it. Tax decrease.
    Abolish education authorities. Print one cheque per child per term for the parents to take to any school of their choice. Massive admin reduction. Spending decrease.
    Make tax allowance pro rata for the amount of the tax year you are entitled to be in this country. So someone given a 12 months work visa which crosses the tax year boundary should not get 2 years tax allowance. Tax increase.

  24. oldtimer
    October 22, 2015

    The aid budget should be candidate to be cut. Like most who post here, I support a budget for disaster relief (whether man made or natural). but not development aid. This is ineffective in actually promoting development (see the works of the latest economist to win the Nobel prize for economics) and appears to be not much more than a convenient political slush fund that only serves to promote waste and venality.

    The so-called climate change research budgets and subsidies should be severely cut if not eliminated. The Royal Society for Engineering has long since said that that the many schemes being dreamed up by climate change researchers are incapable of being engineered as the technology to do so does not exist. Yet this informed advice is willfully ignored by the political class which remains wedded to a discredited agenda.

  25. ray
    October 22, 2015

    My observation from my time in government is that there is often a great deal of scrutiny whenever a project starts, and a lot of justification is required for it to go ahead.

    But once begun- all incentives point towards following it through to the bitter end almost regardless of how badly it is failing (unless politically embarrassing).

    No credit ever seems to go to the civil servants who shut down a failing project. Instead they will be blamed for its failure. This is particularly the case whenever government hires external consultants/contractors and then invests ever more trying to dig themselves out of the hole they find themselves in.

    My suggestion then would be an arbitrary target for each department that 5% (say) of projects of this nature will be scrapped/suspended/put on hold each year. It seems unlikely that there aren’t at least that many that we would be better pulling the plug on. But at the moment there is very little incentive for anyone to do so.

  26. Bert Young
    October 22, 2015

    How many Quangos are there ? . Why do we still have them ?. Why is the Public Expenditure so large ?. Why do we have high cost energy ?. Why have idiotic projects like HS2 ?. Why have Regional Governments ?.
    If we found satisfactory answers to these questions (and there are many more one could continue to cite ) , the tax take would be much lower , people would be better off and there would be more confidence in the way we are governed and the UK restored . Brexit is on my most hopeful wish list and the return of our sovereignty .

  27. brian
    October 22, 2015

    The arbitrary level of international aid at 0.7% of GDP should only be spent when we are in surplus. While we are in deficit it should be reduced by a corresponding ratio.

  28. Bill
    October 22, 2015

    Everything has its regulator. Every large service sector provided by the State has a shadow bureaucracy to check that the service is provided correctly. We no longer trust people to do what they are paid to do. Similarly, how much money is spent on asking the police to investigate the police?

    In the old days professional standards were kept because professionals were guided by an inner ethical sense. My father was a doctor and took the hippocratic oath and kept it.

    I would like us to try to return to the old system and to seek to inculcate professional ethics during training and then to scale down the regulatory bureaucracies and quangos.

  29. ray
    October 22, 2015

    If you’re feeling “courageous” John- the Cancer Drugs Fund is a very obvious thing to scrap or drastically change.

    It spends a vast amount of money on drugs that are cost-INeffective. It takes money away from better treatments and if we spent the money on something else in health- we would gain 17,800 quality-adjusted life years (estimate).

    Some drugs were actually offered originally to the UK at a cheap price- before we rejected them, only to reapprove them at a much higher price via the Cancer Drugs Fund.

  30. Iain Gill
    October 22, 2015

    Stop funding large social housing estates originally built to support large workforces of mines, shipyards, steelworks, and the like from being perpetually funded by the state. Empower the residents to take all of their benefits and housing subsidy anywhere they want, and they will naturally move to where the jobs are over time. Acknowledge that some of these estates will become redundant as there is no longer the local big employer to support them. Spending decrease.

  31. agricola
    October 22, 2015

    As you say public spending has always gone up and by implication will continue to do so. Part is due to deliberately increasing the population by in excess of a million every three years, and part because it is the modus operandi of government departments to increase their areas of activity. Turkeys do not vote for Christmas. An organisation that has no incentive to be measurably profitable, unlike Tesco, will continue to offer incredibly inefficient , poor value for money services.

    One area, State pensions and Public Service Pensions, could be radically changed over a period of fifty years, but I doubt any five year politician the desire or whit to do so. All inward payments and contributions should go into a central investment bank, isolated from any government involvement. It could be a source of much needed industrial finance and as a result produce much better rates of return than our current abysmal state pension payments.

    It is ,I suggest made deliberately difficult to analyse government spending. Precisely what for instance is covered by the headings, Pensions £143 Billion, Health Care £129.2 Billion, Welfare £112.1 Billion, Protection£29.5 Billion? Without very precise breakdowns under each amount we can easily be mislead. A situation which suits those spending the money.

    Consequently the help you request cannot be forthcoming in anything but general terms, such as , government should be an ever reducing factor in our lives. This of course will not happen because it is not in the interests of politicians or civil servants.

  32. Colin Hart
    October 22, 2015

    End inflation-proofed final salary pensions for new entrants in the public sector. Put them on money-purchase or stakeholder pensions. This is what has happened throughout the private sector.

    1. Lifelogic
      October 24, 2015

      Also introduce a special tax on the existing ones to redress Brown’s mugging of the private ones.

  33. Bigneil
    October 22, 2015

    Off topic – the 28 who were found in lorries – -can you tell us how much they are going to cost us in one year, for committing the crime of illegal entry. Housing, benefits, NHS – and the total has to include the obvious – the rest of the family who will inevitably turn up? no doubt some won’t even be able to speak English – destined to be cash-in-hand and no tax car-washers presumably. No contribution but will be massive “takers” from the system. I don’t believe the govt cares – they can vote themselves a 10% pay rise – -so BOTH ends of the spectrum benefit from the ones in the middle. just keep taking and throwing it away – etc ed

  34. Atlas
    October 22, 2015

    Quote: ” The huge expenditure on climate change research, administration and policies could be usefully cut back. After all, as the proponents tell us the science is now completely settled, why do we still need people studying and researching it in government departments?”

    What an excellent idea!

    Knowing the way “rent-seekers” – to use that Economics term – think, I bet suddenly the Science will no-longer be settled and more effort will be called for to resolve matters…

    After all, just think of all those University departments and academic careers founded on this gravy train.

  35. rick hamilton
    October 22, 2015

    The funds given to the climate change industry can be slashed with absolutely no detrimental effect except to their salaries and propaganda output.

    According to BBC World TV, the carbon emissions from Indonesian forest fires exceed the entire carbon output of the UK. No figures given of course being the BBC, but if this is even close to the truth it does make an utter nonsense of the babblings of environmental goody-goodies who want us to ‘lead the wold’ in reducing carbon emissions.

    Indonesian fly-by-nights burning off the greenery while police are literally asleep makes a mockery of climate change legislation, otherwise known as the Miliband Act. It was always incredible arrogance on the part of political egotists to think that we could change the climate of the whole world by taxing people and erecting windmills. Rather like thinking you can stop nuclear war by chaining yourself to a fence.

  36. william
    October 22, 2015

    Make the ownership of residential property in the UK by non UK citizens or foreign companies, trusts or whatever, ILLEGAL. You will be pleasantly surprised by the effect this will have on London property prices, and the knock on effect in England.This has been tried in Singapore and Australia.

    1. Lifelogic
      October 24, 2015

      I would not be “pleasantly” surprised at all – it would cost me £millions.

  37. Geoff not Hoon
    October 22, 2015

    In the past you produced a table of numbers employed by government departments that, from memory, showed the net change over a period of years. If such info is still available it would be interesting to review recent trends. From your time in industry you will be familiar with the expression, ‘we have to do more with less’. whether it be at local level or central government we seem to have it back to front in that the state seeks more and more from our purse to effectively do less and less.

  38. graham1946
    October 22, 2015

    Stop the Chinese nuclear deal – this is another PFI in the making which will bankrupt us in the end, just like PFI is doing to the NHS.

    Build some more gas or even coal plants which can be built quickly and safely as we already know how to do them. Why is Germany allowed to stop nuclear and build coal stations instead if we can’t? Why can’t we afford our own instead of being in hock to a foreign power – we know where that gets us with the current power and water companies mostly in foreign hands – they have no allegiance to us, just to extract as much money as possible from our ‘treasure Island’.

    We always seem to be able to borrow endless amounts for ridiculous things like HS2 and foreign aid for people who despise us in return. Repeal Cameron’s ridiculous foreign aid commitment, stop HS2, climate change levies, cut in half what we donate to the EU- the list is endless. Do something sensible for once and we will be able to balance the books in this parliament without killing our country and industry. We are not short of alternatives, just some proper leadership.

  39. lojolondon
    October 22, 2015

    John, the things that are off the table are the things that should be on the table. How on earth can any sane person justify borrowing money to give it away, and what will our children say when they have to pay that debt back? It is utterly, outrageously crazy, and no government that behaves like this can call itself Conservative.

  40. Peejos
    October 22, 2015

    I’ve no idea how much it would save, but stop paying bonuses to anyone in the public sector. Such people are paid to do a job, which presumably is described in detail in their terms of employment, so how can they justify doing more than whatever those terms are? Either they should be promoted or their job description rewritten so that there is no scope for squeezing in more bonus enhancing work. Do the military get extra after a successful battle: doing what they are paid to do?

  41. Kenneth
    October 22, 2015

    1. Change the culture of our public sector with payment much more geared to performance. For example, if NHS staff were paid according to outcomes the scandals of premature deaths may have been spotted much earlier if staff were being hit in their pay packets. Same for education, transport, overseas aid and all the rest. All parties should be rewarded for good outcomes and penalised for bad outcomes. The measure of goo value-for-money services should not be the amount that is spent but on outcomes, outcomes, outcomes.

    2. Drastically reduce most benefits and phase out the state pension. Scale back on social services. All of these things make us more selfish as we contract out the care for our own families and neighbours to the state. By getting rid of these interferences we can get our society back

    3. Repeal most labour laws that protect strikers etc and scrap any wage controls. These measures should drastically reduce public sector costs. Also eliminate job seekers allowance. There should be plenty of work if we reduce the cost of work

    4. Convert the BBC licence fee into a subscription service. Although this does not impact directly on public spending, BBC campaigns to increase public spending continue to be very successful and are a major driver of public spending increases.

    5.1 Simplify the tax system by having a flat tax with rebates for those who are destitute and disabled. No tax relief, tax breaks etc etc.

    5.2 Eliminate local taxes and replace with a full block grant and then turn councils into companies with the local residents as shareholders. Any surplus will be a profit for shareholders. Shortfalls (losses) will need to be covered by a share placing if loans cannot be secured.

    6. Charge prisoners and/or their families with court and police costs and make use of forced labour as part of the prison regime. This should dramatically increase policing (by families) and reduce crime as families would take more responsibility in preventing their wayward kin from costing them money. It would also provide some revenue.

    7. Concentrate armed forces on border defence and home defence (including Trident), reducing overseas adventures

    8. Charge a £bond to visiting non-UK passport holders, refundable when they return

    9. Stop all green subsidies

    10. Decriminalise most soft drugs and the BBC licence fee and therefore further reduce police and court costs

    11. Burn the quangos once and for all (that includes our membership of the eu)

    12. Stop subsidising charities

    etc etc

  42. Roy Grainger
    October 22, 2015

    The point about the government land bank is good. The state sector as a whole must own lots of surplus land and buildings – many in prime city locations – that could be sold to provide an immediate windfall and free up land for development.

    October 22, 2015

    Close the British Army/Navy/RAF base in Cyprus immediately. Make redundant all staff of rank.

  44. oldtimer
    October 22, 2015

    Since my earlier post, I read that the House of Lords have voted for a Labour amendment to block plans to end subsidies for onshore windfarms a year early. This is contrary to the established constitional position (the Salisbury convention) that the HoL does not amend financial measures. Presumably the government will put its measure to the HoL again. This, plus the potential row over tax credits, looks as though it could become a full blown crisis. How do you expect this to be resolved?

    October 22, 2015

    Dismiss the Chief Medical Officer. It has been indicated internationally that Ebola remains in semen, brain, eyes, liver and other parts of the body AFTER and forever. It is not new information. It was known when the All Clear was given by national medical authorities and politicians. What was not known.. as far as we are informed…is that the remaining Ebola gives rise to additional diseases and ailments.
    Save money.Leave the Chief Medical Officer post unfilled. When a soldier is asleep or otherwise incommunicable at his duty then he may well as not exist at all.

  46. behindthefrogs
    October 22, 2015

    Quite simply raise the limits for employees’ NI contributions. Raising the lower level to at least the lower limit for income tax will partially solve the problems being created by other proposed changes. Raising the upper limit will help to pay for this.

    Similarly the lower limit for employers’ NICs should be raised for manufacturing industries. This will help with the current problems in the steel industry and should be done immediately for them. For other industries it will raise the competitiveness of our exports and increase competition with imports. Where this leads to increased profits some of the money used will be retrieved through corporation tax.

    Rather than reducing corporation tax the government should concentrate on reducing employers’ NICs as this will improve the cash flow particularly of smaller industries.

  47. Denis Cooper
    October 22, 2015

    When you have large areas of expenditure- health, education, pensions – rising more or less inexorably year after year it is difficult to pare enough off other areas to actually reduce the overall total, so it has to be a case of relying on higher revenues.

  48. Denis Cooper
    October 22, 2015

    Off-topic, it has been widely remarked that the Ministerial Code has been amended to make it impossible for ministers to campaign against the agreed government policy of keeping the UK in the EU come what may, but there has also been another change which is rather more welcome for some of us.

    Whereas the May 2010 version, archived here:

    referred to:

    “… the overarching duty on Ministers to comply with the law including international
    law and treaty obligations …”

    in the new version here:

    that has been truncated to:

    “… the overarching duty on Ministers to comply with the law …”

    Of course if the law as passed by Parliament requires that Ministers comply with the terms of a particular treaty then they must still do so, but this change makes it clearer that as the supreme legal authority for the UK it is open to our sovereign Parliament to say that UK ministers need not or should not do so.

    October 22, 2015

    1.Investigation by external agencies and then possible cuts to High Street NHS/Council Anti-Smoking shops. In the last couple of days I saw a “shop” on the main street of a small town on Market Day. No-one seemed to be going in or out. How is the effectiveness of these shops judged? By tick sheets completed by the staff involved as to number of customers or by external monitoring? On one’s death-bed, like stopping smoking, it is a singularly lonesome pursuit. One doubts the successes therefore of such shops.

    2.Also, a proper repeat proper scientific appraisal of nicotine. My local pharmacy a few years ago was selling numerous brands of vitamin supplements designed for people who had stopped smoking. The packet blurb pointed out that nicotine helps/better metabolizes three key vitamins and diminishes necessary repeat necessary food intake by one third. Therefore increased appetite is the consequence for many who stop smoking and with it the life-threatening conditions of obesity/diabetes/heart disease. The blurb should have also pointed out a 33% increase in imported foods if non-smoking for very poor countries throughout the world. And consequent early deaths for those unable to pay the cost.

    3. Are these NHS/council shops made multi-purpose? Do they give out advice on wearing a condom to help prevent HIV and sexually transmitted Ebola via the semen of “Cured” Ebola victims. Any advice given on whether a fetus can also act as a carrier of Ebola?

    The NHS needs, desperately, to get its house and shops in order. Also get to grips with world statistics on sugar consumption which, they attribute to a major cause in Type II diabetes when the sugar consumption in poor nations/rich nations/diabetes does not provide corroborative evidence.
    Thinking out of the self-serving NHS box can cut costs in billions. Also make us a healthier nation and point the way to genuine scientific research.

  50. MikeP
    October 22, 2015

    John, here’s my list:
    – as others have suggested, reduce spend on translation services
    – ditto spend on climate change nonsense
    – have a maximum salary in The Civil Service, retire the job-for-lifers earlier and promote young blood more frequently
    – eliminate or merge (with cost savings) a couple of Whitehall departments
    – implement that phantom “bonfire of the quangos”
    – sort out this tax credits malarkey – Michael Fallon said that even some MPs get them, how on Earth has that come about. Welfare is a safety net not a lifestyle choice, be bold!
    – relocate a few thousand Whitehall staff to the ‘Northern Powerhouse’
    – sell off state land to developers to build the thousands of houses we apparently need
    – get the TRRL in Crowthorne to recommend a road repair protocol that’s a damned sight cheaper than the never-ending one that blights our roads and motorways at present – like having to resurface carriageways when they burn off or unstick the temporary yellow cats eyes, properly synchronised digging up for new utilities, ban repairs with amateurish patches that break up in winter, et al
    – are all Government buildings fitted with timed light switch circuits that save electricity at night? If not fit them.
    It would be instructive to see the extent that Central Government departments are in any way familiar with how many, or how few, staff are required by equivalent private sector organisations where “jobs for the boys” are generally unaffordable and eliminated.

    October 22, 2015

    What is the cleaning regimen on each and every GP Surgery?
    One sees some located in old Victorian houses with multiple rooms…very large cavity walls far superior to those of modern building specifications and regulations. But also capable of hosting every manner of bacterium, virus and insect carrying nastinesses such as LymesDisease on a generational basis from Victoriana to Elizabethiana.

    Are the cleaners educated in microbiology to the extent such knowledge will allow them to make basic cleaning decisions? Are doctors’ swirling fabric seats to their lap tops and computers far away, near, close, very close, extremely close, uncomfortably close to their posteriors? It seems the NHS like the success of pubs success is about location, location ,location and then presentation, presentation, presentation.
    Time to cut the nonsense, cut the costs, and base our healthcare system less on public confidence rhetoric and financial conjurors’ tricks and more on the realities of the microbiological world.
    If everything but one GP surgery is wiped out in nuclear war, it contains all the building blocks of life in great excess to start a whole new world. Corbynistas would need to be weeded out though.

  52. ian
    October 22, 2015

    AS I watch policy mistake after mistake with wet and mad running around like emperor with his photo shoots and big ideas.
    The country budget is no more than household budget, not a big business.
    You have banks of computers, economist and load of staff and still come to the public for ideas of what to do.
    Do what you always do take the money and spend it as you like and have another party for yourselves and friends.

    October 22, 2015

    It is an old one. But it is said that however poor a country, its government always has enough money to make war.
    I learn war is financed generally by bonds of various kinds and what amounts to a revolving credit facility as with America. In a way war is financed by Credit Card. It is also financed, hardly mentioned if at all, by the deviant allocation of labour.
    MPs are too quick to bomb this, shoot that, always according to the whims and avarice of an American administration.
    I have heard Mr Cameron say such and such armed assault by the UK is financed by an ongoing provision, its name escapes me, one could call it a Moneybox for war. It also explains why Father Christmas has enough money for all our toys and we should all be grateful for Mr Cameron’s mature explanatory wisdom.
    So, chuck away childish moneyboxes unless they are financing machine gun posts and missiles based entirely within our borders. Tear up the Nation’s Credit Card for war. Live within our means.Make the government run a budget surplus for all things military. Close the Cyprus Army base. Find out what our soldiers are doing precisely in Berlize instead of footing the annual bill. And sin no more.

  54. ian
    October 22, 2015

    Yes wet and mad must of spent over a trillion while he been in office on contracts for the boys and subsidies going out 1 to 30 years into the future, it of no wander he needs to save money so these contracts can be filled.
    There will a lot more to come as well as earnings on these contracts is very high I would say over 50% profit with as much as possible being put offshore, like always everything you do go to big business and friends, like with wages increases that will shut the small business so bigger business on the stock market can charge more to the public budget.

    It dose not matter how much you save because it all go to the same places.
    He sold a lot of one off like bank shares to make his budget up this year, I like to see the budget when there nothing left to sell, that will be a big hole.
    It a very deep culture of giving to people who are closest to you, like when go out to dinner. only human nature.

    Tax credits to be frozen at 25 billion, with more joining the credit system every year that means rolling cuts to the people that are already on it now for the next five year, like no pay rises for government workers at the bottom but plenty at the top with million pound jobs and pension for the few.
    I am loving it myself, I haven’t had so much fun in years, all the poor soles, we will see how the budget is when we get to next may because there is going be lot of money printing from all around the world now, as the ship is sinking

  55. Dan H.
    October 22, 2015

    Simplify the tax code.

    Britain has the biggest tax code of any developed nation on the planet, but we are not the richest or the most productive. Devoting a lot of time to simplifying the tax code, testing each simplification in models before and after, and trying to predict the probable winners and losers of each will take a lot of time, but be well worth it.

    As an example of this, there are sixteen different levels of duty on alcoholic drinks. Really, we only need one level of duty on the actual amount of ethanol sold regardless of the amount of other material it is dissolved in.

    October 22, 2015

    We should take a leaf out of India’s Tata Company, close down uneconomic steel production in places like Redcar and invest 2 billion in Slovakia next to the steel mills of US Steel Košice building their own brand Tata Motors’ Jaguar Land Rover.
    Clever of them and a great achievement for Asiatic ingenuity to market their brands in plain English giving it world-wide appeal. And with cheap American steel.
    We should follow India’s example and originate our own People’s Car, divert our public spending to help finance its development. We could call the car GORD after one of our notable economic gurus.
    Seriously, isn’t it time Mr Cameron had a rather serious talk with the US President concerning iron ore over production and the rest of over- production and theft of ours and Europe’s markets?

  57. tony brookes
    October 22, 2015

    Have you read the lecture by Patrick Moore, founder of Greenpeace, to the Institute of Mechanical Engineers last Wednesday the 14th October ? It shows why the Climate Change Act should repealed as asap.

  58. Richard Roney
    October 22, 2015

    Cut all climate change expenditure, all donations to charities, halve the civil service and local government officers, reduce the tasks taken on by government and imposed on local authorities, sell off Network Rail and all other enterprises owned by government as well as assets it does not need to run the country.

  59. ian
    October 22, 2015

    What I like best is open contracts they hand out that go up 2,3,5, times in price and then companies say after their accountants have been in, we have very little tax to pay this year and then they go before a common committee for telling off and then back to business as usual.

    Their best trick is charging say 5 pounds for something you can buy in the shop yourself for 20p.
    Like Mr blair spending on computer 100 billion and of them worked also tec in school, billion spent for no gain to replace a blackboard all going to companies pocket to keep them going and the pupils are going backwards

  60. Jon
    October 22, 2015

    Apparently we spend £250m plus employing public sector workers to work full time on Union activities. They are employed on the wage and benefits of their original job but no longer do that. That needs to stop especially as the Unions are very political. I resent and take offence at tax money funding the Unions to that extent. It needs to stop.

    Infact not just stop that but take say a few million out of that huge sum and employ professional regulated employee benefit consultants instead to give employees the information that should be getting. I doubt these Union employee benefit reps have much of an idea about the legislative changes to pensions lately. Why should the public sector get a second rate service when many large firms get regulated advisers to help them through these complex tax and pension changes. I don’t just think we could save a couple of hundred million but deliver a better service and a regulated one.

    Whilst we will spend 0.7% on foreign aid can we not broaden what is foreign aid rather than dumping billions at the door of the EU and UN. This refugee crisis we have requires them to have houses built in this country. It requires us to fund benefits for them. It requires us to fund no doubt many other services and activities in that area, some military, some humanitarian (fine line) which should come from the Foreign Aid budget.

    By the way, really happy, nae, ecstatic even at the passage of English Votes for English Laws. A wonderful day.

  61. Jon
    October 22, 2015

    There are MPs calling on the services of Pension Wise to be extended. This is not a good time to try to Nationalise pensions advice. It’s not a saving that can be made from current spend it’s just to stop a black hole of spending tomorrow. It can be handled by the private sector including liabilities even for the poor if the pension ministers, regulators etc get their act together. They have been given the solution in a post commission world, they need to act to return to a world when even the poor have access to advice, private and regulated with no liability put on the taxpayer or expense.

    Its where say 0.05% is added to the pension fund charge and paid to say the Pension Advisory Service that divvies out vouchers so all can have access to regulated advice, returning back to the system of cross subsidy just as the UK tax system is based on.

    I would like the MP’s pension to move to a funded money purchase, existing defined benefits retained. The reason is that most workers in teh UK are in money purchase plans not final salary type, so MP’s would be better informed in making decisions on pensions if their pensions also reflected those of the majority of the workforce.

  62. turbo terrier
    October 22, 2015

    With Spanish power companies shutting down coal power stations and within 9 months produce profits from £150m to £301m on wind farms alone and still they tell us they need more gas fired power stations (Scottish Herald today) no wonder they reckon they can stand alone without subsidies in due course. This on the back of millions in fuel debt and poverty. The Chancellor should be bringing these companies, developers and land owners to heel with windfall taxes. It is the tail wagging the dog and we stand back and do very little. The House of Lords are trying to pull the rug from under the governments feet over the bringing forward of the stopping of subsidies and RoCs. Hello, the country has a £1.5 trillion debt.

    That leads to another waste of money. It is fine in principle to have a second chamber but not in the numbers we have at the present and there should be a retirement age. They are non elected and at times seem to be living on a different planet to the rest of us. The numbers should be capped to match that of Parliament.

    How many times has the Prime Minister got to hear that in reality he is going to get three fifths of nothing from Europe before he understands what they are saying. What will be the real cost of the referendum? Just leave before we are overun with refugees who once recognised by Germany and given papers will be straight over to the UK for the handouts that the EU have told him he cannot stop.

    Who really gives a stuff that you can arrive in Birmingham 10 minutes quicker by using HS2? Lets get real and face the facts that we are standing up the sharp end getting our own back. In the real world it is called Force Field Anylsis> Where we are and where we want to be. Rocket science it is not. We need members of Parliament that have life and industry experiences placed in positions that their skills will bring added value to the country. So they don’t always tow the line, great, lets have some real lateral thinking once in a while.

    Governments of every colour have fallen under the spell of Climate Change religion and for those talking common sense are ridiculed. Mother earth has been taking care of itself for a long time and it does not need scientists with their PCs conjuring up all the scare stories about “we are doomed” The whole world revolves around economics and it will be that, that will sort it out and bring commonsense to all this nonsense.

    Everbody and their dog has a view and like children in old fashioned school we are not encouraged to ask why and when we do in the majority of cases the politicians play their spin card. It is almost impossible to believe that only one hundred or so politicians regulary voice concerns over energy and the environment issues.

    The BBC is so biased and against so much that could really support the country that it automatically joins the list of areas that can hit harder to produce savings. It is so bad we now have Mark Carney throwing in his four cents into the Europe debate, is that what he is really here for?

    Invest in rural broadband encouraging people to work from home starting up with new ideas that will eventually drive progress forward.

    Germany and others can seem to ring fence their key industries why can’t we? They do not appear to give a stuff about burning coal and increasing their CO2 emissions. That would be another massive saving, closing down of the DECC it is perceived to be toothless and has allowed the energy companies, developers and land owners to walk all over it. What real CO2 savings have they achieved? In real business if you cannot make the numbers the exit door is opened. Possibly led by the right people the DECC might have made a better impact on the country by not just allowing a one horse race to take place. Opponents of nuclear bang on about a 60 year plan whats the life of a turbine? 25 years tops. Wait to see the real costs when they have to be removed and disposed of. Another crisis waiting to happen.

    Government has got to stop running about like headless chickens high profile fire fighting on the top deck whilst the hull is being torn apart below the water line. The Great British electorate deserve better.

  63. Ludgate Man
    October 22, 2015

    I think the Government should take a tip from the private sector with regards to cutting costs.
    In the very successful company I worked for department heads were told to list their staff in order; most needed at the top and least needed at the bottom. Their budgets would then be cut by between 10 and 15 per cent. Lots of things were cut back on but mainly it meant redundancies, starting from the bottom of the list. This had the effect of not only reducing costs but it also got rid of the least productive workers.

    1. Edward2
      October 23, 2015

      That is a good idea except in the State sector you would find the most productive employees were the ones made redundant.
      No admin staff would go, no middle managers would go and certainly no top management would go.
      Local councils near me are busy getting rid of school crossing patrols, library staff, nursery nurses, school assistants and binmen saying they have no money due to”austerity” whilst HQ and admin staff numbers rise.
      At national level we see a similar reduction in front line staff but little reduction elsewhere.

  64. Lindsay McDougall
    October 23, 2015

    You have listed most of the things on which the government has increased expenditure – defence, schools, pensions, the NHS, foreign aid and EU payments.

    That list is too long. I would argue that the government will be unable to avoid an increase in NHS expenditure but that none of other categories of expenditure should be sancrosanct.

    There are many old people and the proportion will rise until at least 2026. The medical profession, dedicated to the hypocratic oath – is extending life expectancy by 4 months in every year. We have to find ways of reducing the amount per capita per annum spent on the retired elderly – considering health care, home help and pensions in the round.

    This obsession of keeping people alive until they get dementia – thus ruining their own lives and the lives of those around them – is really stupid. We can’t go round bumping people off but we don’t have to spend taxpayers’ money stupidly. Shouldn’t people be encouraged to draw up a Living Will, including their wishes of what should happen to them if they become severely and permanently mentally impaired – the key point being that the Living Will is drawn up while the person is still of sound mind?

    1. stred
      October 23, 2015

      Another cup of tea and another idea to cut expenditure. The ‘refugee’ refuges were shown today, many in cheap old houses near Middlesborough, with day centres and language training. Other were in Kent and overwhelming their social services. But a majority are from countries such as Algeria( french speaking) Albania (European near Greece and Italy), Sudan(with safe areas split for both religions), Pakistan, Nigeria and hardly any from Syria.

      The Home Office have managed to deport some economic migrants, who should have claimed asylum in the first country anyway. But they have been chartering planes and sending a few at a time, at huge expense. How about collecting these non-refugees in one centre for each claimed country and sending them all back in a full plane or boat, or even lorry in the case of the Balkans, after fingerprinting and a promise of a spell doing hard labour if they turn up again.

    2. Cheshire Girl
      October 24, 2015

      I made a Living Will several years ago, but I dont think it has any validity in law. I would hope my wishes would be taken into account, as I have no wish to hang around once my quality of life has gone.

  65. Martin
    October 23, 2015

    I worked for a big brewing company a few years ago which reduced company spending by a Priority Based Budgeting exercise.
    Each department prioritised its expenditure. The bottom 10%, sometimes more, mostly went. There was an appeals board for departments who did not feel able to reduce their spending. Some departments (such as IT) had their spending increased. It worked – the overall target of a 10% reduction in spending was achieved.
    The logic was that some spending becomes unnecessary due to technological or other changes but, through inertia, is maintained.
    Such an approach may be useful at Government budget level.

  66. Robert K
    October 23, 2015

    The new Hinkley Point nuclear power station and HS2 are informative. Sensible commentators such as Simon Jenkins have pointed out the appallingly bad deal the UK government has done, effectively giving the Chinese government a 30-year bond at 10% when they could raise bond finance in the market at quarter of the cost. HS2 is going to cost over £40 billion and will return nothing. These are big extravagant projects that we can see and which obviously will contribute to a rise in public spending while vital services like education are under terrific pressure. What about the smaller wasteful stuff that we never get to hear of?

  67. Ken Moore
    October 23, 2015

    While councils plead poverty they still manage to find the cash to employ battalions of unneccesary managers/coordinators and ‘team leaders’ .A quick scan of the Guardian jobs pages reveal the enormity of the problem.

    £35,000 plus doesn’t seem like a bad wage for what is essentially feeding council propaganda to it’s own paying customers. Apparently the task is so big that two full time ‘marketing and information officers are needed.

    These sorts of jobs need to be cut back to the bone, benefits need to be slashed to pre-Brown levels…but nobody has the bottle to do it.

  68. petermartin2001
    October 24, 2015

    I was sorry to read that Michael Meacher died this week. I liked a lot of what he said. Some of it did disagree with though.

    One quote I saw was that

    ” The Tory Government has been pursuing a slash-and-burn policy to deliberately shrink the size of the State rather to reduce the size of its deficit as they would claim”.

    Either Tory economists are incredibly stupid, which I don’t think they are, or Michael got this one wrong.

    Having a slash-and-burn policy is not going to reduce the size of the State. If more people end up with less money either because they are paid less, or they are taxed more, then they will be less likely to be able to afford the private alternatives (of health, education, pensions, unemployment insurance etc) to those the State provides. They will be more dependent on State welfare than they need be. If they don’t get it they’ll be more likely to support those candidates on the left who’ll promise them that.

    So the only way the Conservative Party can shrink the size of the State is to stop its “slash-and-burn” policy and compensate any spending cuts with tax cuts on a 1:1 basis to restore the total aggregate demand level within the economy. Those tax cuts should then lead to extra economic activity.

    1. Edward2
      October 24, 2015

      Its a strange definition of “slash and burn” when State spending was £340 billion in 2000, rising to £740 billion in 2014 and is planned to rise to nearly £800 billion in the next few years.
      But Meacher always felt ever more spending and ever more taxing by the State was a good thing for the economy.

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