Controlling spending

The new fiscal rules require the government to only spend what it collects in taxes, with the exception of capital investment. Given the increases promised for schools, the NHS and the police, this means that the government does need to be careful with its spending. If it has other priorities for additional money, it will need to improve the efficiency of the spend elsewhere or identify programmes that are no longer needed.

It is anyway necessary to regularly review spending and to challenge public sector managers over how  well it is being spent. Today I invite contributors to send in their best ideas for things that could be cancelled or trimmed from the present large budgets.

My own list includes some large items. I would cancel HS2, and spend some of the savings on more immediate and necessary improvements on rail routes into cities and towns, especially in the North and Midlands. London is currently receiving money for Crossrail and for tube improvements.

I would transfer some of the money required to be spent on Overseas Aid to housing, NHS capital and new school provision to represent the first year costs of refugees and economic migrants who need homes, access to surgeries and school places for their children. These are allowable costs under the overseas aid definitions.

I would toughen and spell out the terms of any future payments to the EU, as we do not wish to be paying more to them once we have properly left at the end of this year. The EU will have benefitted from an additional 21 months of our budget contributions thanks to the delays imposed on our exit by the last Parliament anyway.

I would promote faster growth in the ways set out on this blog, which will reduce the numbers out of work and so lower the benefit bills for a good reason.

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. Both comments and trackbacks are currently closed.


  1. James1
    Posted January 15, 2020 at 5:16 am | Permalink

    Cease all foreign aid payments immediately. Reduce taxes accordingly and leave it to taxpayers to donate to the appropriate charities of their choice. They will make a much more sensible job of it than a government department shovelling money to overseas despots that serves to end up buying new fleets of Mercedes for the local El Presidente. This is not to say that relief and assistance should not be provided in the case of emergency situations. We can help other less well off counties much better by allowing them to trade with us.

    • MickN
      Posted January 15, 2020 at 7:39 am | Permalink

      I would like to see the government set up a warehouse for tents blankets medicine etc and a trained force of doctors and other professionals that could be ready to go anywhere in the world at short notice to assist in the event of floods earthquakes etc.
      This would give real help where needed at short notice and would cost a fraction of what is currently given away thanks to Cameron. I can’t see anyone having a problem with that.

      • Norman
        Posted January 15, 2020 at 7:27 pm | Permalink

        Certainly an idea worth looking into, Micke.
        I happen to know there’s some excellent expertise in the HoL that could help re-focus overseas aid. Most of us never hear of such unsung efforts, nor the desperately needy countries (often former British colonies) where appalling things are happening, and where surely we could influence outcomes, as we did a few years ago in Sierra Leone. If we do not, innocent people will continue to be slaughtered and the Chinese will step in instead. I feel it’s extremely important Her Majesty’s Government fulfill what so many overseas expect of us, as a civilized and charitable nation, (provided it’s well- managed, of course).

      • Sir Joe Soap
        Posted January 16, 2020 at 9:06 am | Permalink

        I’m not certain the government should be setting this up. Look at Mercy Ships, which do pretty well what you’re suggesting. We need members of the HOL to visit, propose and monitor support to charities such as these, but not to run them. I see Baroness Sugg was involved in a visit to a Mercy Ship last year. The problem is that we never really hear what happens as a result, but there would be a lesser clamour on here for decreasing the FA budget if we knew areas like this were supported rather than rockets for India etc.

      • dixie
        Posted January 16, 2020 at 4:46 pm | Permalink

        There are already charities which do elements of this, for example ShelterBox which is specifically geared to providing disaster support. Those people who wish to support such capabilities can choose to donate to these charities, I have done so in the past, and know that the money is going to a UK group using UK products to support those in urgent need rather than providing long term goodies for foreign politicians and hoodlums.

        Government support could come from services vessels for transport and coordination but I agree with Sir Joe Soap that disaster support should be an arm of government.

        • dixie
          Posted January 17, 2020 at 8:22 am | Permalink

          international disaster support should not be an arm of government.

    • Martin in Cardiff
      Posted January 15, 2020 at 7:54 am | Permalink

      Estimates are difficult, but the full, ramified costs of crime in the UK are put at anything upwards of seven percent of GDP, that is, ten times our overseas aid budget.

      The pro-rata rate is about twice the European Union average too, so if it could be reduced just to that, then that would save around five times that amount. We spend about a billion a year just on clearing up litter and dog fouling for goodness’ sake. Yes, that’s crime too.

      So Labour were absolutely right to make crime reduction a top priority.

      We don’t seem to have heard much about these sorts of figures over the last ten years though, do we?

      I wonder which way they are heading?

      • Edward2
        Posted January 15, 2020 at 6:23 pm | Permalink

        And your solution to crime is….?

      • Narrow Shoulders
        Posted January 15, 2020 at 7:23 pm | Permalink

        What has that to do with overseas aid suggestions in the post to which you replied?

        • Martin in Cardiff
          Posted January 17, 2020 at 7:32 am | Permalink

          It is a silly trope that the country would not be short of cash if it ceased European Union contributions and overseas aid, or treating certain people in the NHS, when a ten times greater drain is crime committed by UK people.

          That the first should dominate the national debate yet the second be ignored is a sign that the country has lost its senses.

          • czerwonadupa
            Posted January 17, 2020 at 5:39 pm | Permalink

            Countries that send rockets into to space do not need British aid.

          • Edward2
            Posted January 17, 2020 at 6:26 pm | Permalink

            Well tell people not to break the law then Martin.
            That should sort it out.

    • BOF
      Posted January 15, 2020 at 8:00 am | Permalink

      Agree. Tax payers should not be the guarantors of the business plans of international charities.

    • Andy
      Posted January 15, 2020 at 8:28 am | Permalink

      Lots of you want to scrap overseas aid – saying it would allow tax cuts. Except it wouldn’t.

      Scrapping overseas aid would save an average income tax payer less than £40 a year – around £3 a month, 70p a week or 10p a day. To give this back you have to cut the basic rate of tax by about 0.2p. And you can’t cut it by less than a penny. Note that this is for an average income tax payer. Lower earners pay less.

      Of course if you retain some aid spending for ‘emergency situations’ as you suggest the savings would be even less still. Though seeing that much of our aid already goes to save sick, dying and starving people – particularly children – one wonders what your definition of emergency will be.

      In contrast my plan, to scrap all state benefits for pensioners, would save the average income tax payer £3000 a year – nearly £60 a week. That would really boost the economy and those taxpayers who still want to donate to old people could choose Age UK or other pensioner charities instead. We would make a much more sensible job of it than the government who hand over our cash to old people, regardless of need.

      • Edward2
        Posted January 15, 2020 at 5:09 pm | Permalink

        So no pensioners will be allowed any State benefits.
        Despite paying in for 30 plus years.
        Is that what you actually want?
        Best of luck with that policy

      • Fred H
        Posted January 15, 2020 at 5:18 pm | Permalink

        So Andy – please explain how the problem of UK penniless, ill, starving, homeless elderly will be resolved by our local authority? No council houses, full hospitals, weeks to get a GP appointment, food banks already doing a roaring trade – begging in the street, so many, the lucky ones might get banged up in prison. I would welcome any tips on how I survive in your brave new world?

      • NickC
        Posted January 15, 2020 at 8:12 pm | Permalink

        Andy, As usual your maths is at remedial level. There are 32.74 million workers in the UK (UK, EU, RoW). The Aid budget is 0.7% of £2trn GDP = £14bn. So £14,000m/32.74m = £427-61 per year. Not the £40 you claim. And it is £8-20 per week, not the 70p you imagine.

        I am all for eliminating state benefits for pensioners. But that would have to be implemented over a couple of decades, to allow people the time to plan and build up savings to compensate. In fact it should be ready in time for you becoming a pensioner.

        • Fred H
          Posted January 16, 2020 at 4:37 pm | Permalink

          NickC – and over the ‘couple of decades’ you will expect the pension funding withdrawal to be deducted from the NI & In come tax?

  2. Lifelogic
    Posted January 15, 2020 at 5:30 am | Permalink

    What is needed and cuts in taxes, red tape and energy costs and a far smaller government. HS2 is clearly idiotic and is clearly crony capitalism. It is totally unjustifiable so what is the government waiting for? More money pissed down the drain on it every day and more damage being done to those directly affected by proximity to the line.

    The way to get better health care and education (and cut the pressure on the NHS) is to encourage more to go privately with vouchers, tax cuts and tax breaks. A huge saving should be made by cancelling the millions of soft student loans for duff and worthless degrees – about 2/3 of them clearly are. Let them learn on the job and free many of the university lecturers to get productive jobs too (if they are up to it).

    How late and over budget is Crossrail now – what are the current estimates?

    • Posted January 15, 2020 at 8:38 am | Permalink

      Let’s have specifics. What red tape. Where is it going down the drain. You continue not to understand the politics re the NHS, it would be electoral suicide for the Tories so never going to happen. Equally university education. What evidence to you have they are worthless. Until you provide that, nothing ‘clearly’ about it.

      Thatcherism is dead, time to catch up.

    • Ian @Barkham
      Posted January 15, 2020 at 11:45 am | Permalink


      Realistic and to the point.

      Crossrail Reading to London, takes longer that the standard train. As with HS2 it is dragging out old ugly technology, giving it a new paint job and saying haven’t we done well. In the meantime the rest of the world moves on with faster more efficient services

  3. Lifelogic
    Posted January 15, 2020 at 5:35 am | Permalink

    I see that Nick Morgan (now styled as “Baroness Morgan of Cotes” and yet another lawyer) claims that:- Sexist algorithms are ignoring women’s voices and denying them jobs as it emerged fewer a quarter of UK tech jobs were held by women. The lack of females at tech firms meant devices and services were being designed by men for men, with ­“gender inequality embedded”.

    Might these sexist algorithms perhaps look for people with qualifications and ability in Physics, Computer Studies, Programming, Engineering, Further Maths and similar for such jobs perhaps? Women, even at A level standard represent only about 20% (on average) of people sitting these subjects?

    What can be done if women on average prefer Performing Arts, Welsh, Sociology, Psychology, Art, English … where they are about 70% of the A level candidates? Does she want to deny them a free choice of A levels or do perhaps she wants some brain washing on them? Or does she just want very heavy & active discrimination against males with such science ability/qualifications? I assume the latter. Perhaps she can enlighten us? Her elevation and appointment as Culture Secretary was not a good sign from the Boris administration.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted January 15, 2020 at 5:53 am | Permalink

      Such active discrimination against males with the relevant abilities and qualifications is rather unlikely to be a good plan for technology companies. Is it even legal it is certainly immoral and damaging?

    • Peter Parsons
      Posted January 15, 2020 at 4:02 pm | Permalink

      Or perhaps the factors which result in women being conditioned into those preferences (I’ll cite again the Institute of Physics studies I’ve previously quoted which show this is the case and show what happens when that conditioning is stopped, although I know you choose to ignore scientific research which doesn’t happen to align with your world view, just as you do over the climate situation) need addressing.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted January 15, 2020 at 6:02 pm | Permalink

        Women, whether you like it or not choose these A levels the pattern is similar every years and very gender dependent. Interestingly though medicine at university is now a little over 50% female. So engineering on people does appeal to women rather more than engineering on aircraft, bridges, cars or engines it seems to.

        The institute has perhaps learned the lesson that you cannot tell the truth anymore or like James Damore you get fired or ostracised by government!

      • Edward2
        Posted January 15, 2020 at 7:34 pm | Permalink

        Surely are not suggesting women are conditioned to being inferior by societal pressures?

    • Sir Joe Soap
      Posted January 16, 2020 at 9:22 am | Permalink

      You’d have thought Mrs Morgan would have lost all credibility when she went from being a thorn in the side of Brexit (having campaigned 2017 to leave with no deal if necessary) to rabidly supporting Boris to achieve just that. Apart from successfully playing piggy in the middle between May and Johnson I cannot see what discernible skills this person has.

      There are more women school teachers than men. It could be argued that training the next generation is the most important job in society. Would she argue that men are therefore being denied the same opportunities as women to become teachers?

      Perhaps men and women are completely equal in making their own choices?

  4. Lifelogic
    Posted January 15, 2020 at 5:49 am | Permalink

    Douglas Murray had an excellent piece yesterday in the Telegraph yesterday following the sad death of Roger Scruton.

    We owe it to Scruton to follow his example. Condemned for the heresy of conservatism, the great philosopher never gave up on rational argument

    • Martin in Cardiff
      Posted January 15, 2020 at 12:27 pm | Permalink

      There are a number of important points on which I agree with the late philosopher.

      For instance, he argued that revolutions are not conducted from below by the people, but from above, in the name of the people, by an aspiring elite.

      I don’t think that he describes all revolutions by any means, but I’d see the directed movements to leave the European Union and to elect the likes of Trump in exactly those terms.

      Yes, you should indeed follow him, in keeping an open mind to such possibilities.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted January 15, 2020 at 6:05 pm | Permalink

        I certainly enjoyed reading his books – but did not agree with everything. He did have rather a lack of science (but then most people do).

      • Narrow Shoulders
        Posted January 15, 2020 at 7:28 pm | Permalink

        Great narrative Marty. Marvellous nuance.

        Utter cr** of course but so well thought out

      • NickC
        Posted January 15, 2020 at 10:14 pm | Permalink

        Martin, Your view is merely a variation on the “you didn’t know what you were voting for” theme so beloved of Remains. In your theory we are too thick, too xenophobic, too racist, and we just do what the media barons, or – the Democrat favourite – the Russians, tell us. We are “directed” you say.

        The big problem for your theory is that before the vote in each case – Brexit and Trump – Remains/Democrats thought we’d lose. Back then even they didn’t think the external influences (media, Russians, stupidity) would “work”. Now you claim they did.

        Perhaps you need to offer your superior wisdom to the Camerons and Clintons of this world? Alternatively, and more likely, you’re just making up vile, patronising, and obnoxious ad hominems.

        • Martin in Cardiff
          Posted January 16, 2020 at 7:43 am | Permalink

          No, I thought that Leave would win right back in 2010 if Cameron ever did get to call his silly vote, as he did.

          I thought that it was about evens for Trump.

          Whatever, I’m just agreeing with Scruton’s analysis of such changes.

          • NickC
            Posted January 16, 2020 at 6:12 pm | Permalink

            Martin, Have you proof of that, or are you just making it up again? Cameron didn’t promise a referendum on the EU in 2010.

          • Martin in Cardiff
            Posted January 17, 2020 at 7:34 am | Permalink

            The Lib Dems prevented it or Cameron would have done.

          • NickC
            Posted January 23, 2020 at 11:13 am | Permalink

            Martin, That’s the inverse of the truth. Clegg promised an “In-Out” referendum in 2010, not Cameron. It was not until 2015 that Cameron promised a referendum.

  5. Ian Wragg
    Posted January 15, 2020 at 6:17 am | Permalink

    Why should we be paying anything to the EU after we have left. They should be paying us to trade and if they want access to UK fishing waters.

    • Ian @Barkham
      Posted January 15, 2020 at 11:56 am | Permalink

      The EU has also been quoted as suggesting that in order for the UK to have a trade deal they must sign up and have scrutinized standards and practices that are higher than in the majority of the EU.

      They have got that backwards, unless the EU puts in play with their own citizens the same identical rights afforded to the citizens of the UK, free health at source, long maternity leave, holiday entitlement and so on and so on. And unless those rights are administered by the UK Courts, their trade with the UK should be restricted.

      The EU negotiators only have punishment and payment in mind. Unlike the actual real people of the EU cooperation is not on the agenda.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted January 15, 2020 at 8:31 pm | Permalink

        Of course most of these degrees are worthless – just look at the syllabus, and most people studying them do not even have decent A level passes nor, one suspects, do most of the academic staff!

      • Sir Joe Soap
        Posted January 16, 2020 at 9:25 am | Permalink

        We should demand that all EU countries match our minimum wage in order that they don’t undermine our standards.

  6. Mark B
    Posted January 15, 2020 at 6:34 am | Permalink

    Good morning.

    HS2 Will not be cancelled. Too much vested interest.

    I would toughen and spell out the terms of any future payments to the EU . . .

    There is no need for a ‘Transition Period’. This is just a ruse to keep us tied into the EU for another 11 months. At the end of June we will have to tell the EU whether or not we wish to extend the ‘Transition Period’ and for how much longer. The EU have already stated that any negotiations are going to last well beyond the end of December. Personally, if they are right, and I think they are, I see no reason to Remain tied to the EU beyond the end of this month.

    The so called ‘Trade Talks’ are just another round of Accession Treaty negotiations aimed at keeping us in the Single Market, the Customs Union and under ECJ control. That way we will still Remain in the EU but with no representation. That way Remainers can argue our way back in.

    We know the game, well at least some of us, and are not fooled.

    • Ian Wragg
      Posted January 15, 2020 at 8:24 am | Permalink

      Plus 1. The transition period is just to allow time to capitulate to all EU demands
      Watch them try to sequence the negotiatins not moving on until they get their way slice by slice.
      They’ve already said that they want fishing access resolved before the trade talks begin

    • Posted January 15, 2020 at 8:35 am | Permalink

      Mark B – I think many of us feel that way. The idea of requiring a ”transition period” is ludicrous, and, as you say, it seems like a ruse.
      Yes, we should be ”trimming large budgets” as our host says, but even those efforts pale in the face of the eye-wateringly enormous sum our government is to pay the EU in order to get them to talk about trade. Isn’t that bribery? We’re scraping around trying to make savings at home, but handing over this to a foreign power, when we are told we don’t owe it. It at least smacks of appeasement.
      Our host speaks of the ”terms of any future payments to the EU” – I hope there aren’t any future payments or bribes.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted January 15, 2020 at 8:46 am | Permalink

      I suspect you are right.

      It seems that the Boris government is indeed going to will continue HS2, (if they are cancelling then why on earth the delay?). This would be a very bad sign indeed – indicating that his new government is going to continue a policy of big government, tax, borrow and tip down the drain. Continuing in the dire Brown, Darling, Osborne and Hammond mode.

    • Ian @Barkham
      Posted January 15, 2020 at 11:57 am | Permalink


  7. Narrow Shoulders
    Posted January 15, 2020 at 6:48 am | Permalink

    Do not issue any benefit payment to anyone who has not been granted leave to remain.

    Change teachers’ NI payments back to how they were.

    Review public contributions to public sector pensions.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted January 15, 2020 at 8:48 am | Permalink

      Indeed public sector pensions should be on average be about the same size as the private sector. Last time I looked they were about 10 times the value, with many in the private sector having no provision at all.

  8. Bob Dixon
    Posted January 15, 2020 at 7:08 am | Permalink

    We are putting billions into Northern Ireland.We are putting money into protection guards
    For The Sussex’s as they wonder around the world.
    We have 12 months more to keep afloat the EU.
    What’s left for England?

    • JoolsB
      Posted January 15, 2020 at 9:53 am | Permalink

      Don’t you know Bob, England is merely the ca$h cow for the benefit of the rest of the UK.

  9. Sharon Jagger
    Posted January 15, 2020 at 7:13 am | Permalink

    “I would toughen and spell out the terms of any future payments to the EU, as we do not wish to be paying more to them once we have properly left at the end of this year.”

    What should we need to pay to the EU once we’ve completed our transition in December?

    And I’m still puzzled that during a transition period nothing is to change. Surely, during that time things should be gradually changing, hence the word “transition!”

    • Ian Wragg
      Posted January 15, 2020 at 8:26 am | Permalink

      Transition in government speak means extension. Nothing to change and time for the EU to hobble us.

    • Andy
      Posted January 15, 2020 at 8:34 am | Permalink

      Something does change. You lose your say. You follow all EU rules, you pay into the EU, you accept ECJ rulings but your voice goes. Apparently this is taking back control.

      Then, at the end of the transition period, your rights go. If you suddenly decide you and go retire to Spain – hard luck. If your grandchildren want to study in Sweden – hard luck. Erasmus is gone. Galileo is gone. And you will need to fill in forms just to travel to the EU. If you buy something online from Poland without a deal you may face import tariffs. But apparently you will have control of toaster regulation.

      • Fred H
        Posted January 15, 2020 at 5:12 pm | Permalink

        you list several things I’m not remotely interested in , but having hotter toasters, noisier hoovers, the right to stop Europe’s unemployed arriving en masse, plus just as many from warring countries that our friends Germany and France help get here? – now you are talking!

      • NickC
        Posted January 15, 2020 at 10:23 pm | Permalink

        Andy, Nothing changes – the UK must follow all EU rules, pay into the EU, accept ECJ rulings, and have no voice to halt any of it. Just like being a member, in fact.

        One of my children studied in Russia. A relative emigrated to the USA. The sons of three different friends have emigrated to Australia. None of those nations are in the EU. So what’s your point again?

    • Fred H
      Posted January 15, 2020 at 9:23 am | Permalink

      for transition read ‘daylight robbery’.

    • Peter Wood
      Posted January 15, 2020 at 9:56 am | Permalink

      Too late, Mrs May was our lead negotiator when payments to the EU were agreed, and Boris didn’t get any changes, so we’re scr..ed. (Mrs May’s 3 years must be one of the most expensive non war premierships in our history!)

      Are we, even now, making proper plans for leaving in 12 months without a FTA? Anybody heard, or do we just trust Boris Bunter, and get deceived again?

    • Ian @Barkham
      Posted January 15, 2020 at 12:06 pm | Permalink

      Some years back the UK acted to outlaw what was called pyramid selling, nowadays called ‘Ponzi’ schemes. In essence handing out a promised return on an investment, that in reality was paid by someone else joining the club. This is still illegal. Our payments to the EU are based on the same premise, ‘we don’t have the money now for our asperation, we don’t know were that money will come from’ but down the line when we have figured it out we will need money. Entrapping the UK as a useful paymaster is every Socialist dream

  10. villaking
    Posted January 15, 2020 at 7:14 am | Permalink

    Sir John, I would cancel the expensive “triple lock” on state pensions and instead link them to CPI. This would not only release money to try and tackle rising child poverty and homelessness, it would also help adjust the unfair generational inequality that has developed in recent times.

    • Caterpillar
      Posted January 15, 2020 at 8:01 am | Permalink

      If CPI is lower than the annual increase in nominal GDP per capita, as it usually is, then such a policy could be reworded as intentionally pushing the elderly with only the state pension to lower and lower relative incom i.e. A polocy aimed at creating poverty. The generational inequality is an average and not to do with the state pension – wealth, progressive consumer and inheritance taxes would be much more appropriate.

      Nonetheless the triple lock is more propaganda than transparency. The state pension could just be set at an income percentile or fraction of median, and changed each year to maintain this.

    • Bob
      Posted January 15, 2020 at 10:03 am | Permalink

      With the extensive welfare benefits available, I suspect that any child poverty in this country is due the parents spending their handouts on ciggies, booze, tatoos and body piercings.

      • Fred H
        Posted January 15, 2020 at 5:08 pm | Permalink

        Bob – – You obviously missed the article and appeal for donations run in the Sunday Times recently. You might not be so scathing about why genuine child poverty happens.

        • Bob
          Posted January 15, 2020 at 7:10 pm | Permalink

          “You obviously missed the article and appeal for donations run in the Sunday Times recently.”

          I just googled it.

          • £10 will buy ingredients for a home-cooked meal for a family of six
          • £20 will buy a Christmas present for a child who otherwise won’t get one
          • £25 will cover the cost of energy for cooking and heating over the holidays
          • £30 would pay for electricity to provide lighting, washing and drying of clothes and bedding during the holidays
          • £50 will provide a family with a Christmas food hamper
          • £200 will take a group of 30 children walking in the countryside
          • £250 will fund a street play party
          • £300 will fund a holiday outing to an art gallery or a museum
          • £800 will pay for a group of children to go camping next summer
          • £2,000 will refurbish and restock a primary school library
          • £2,500 will pay support workers to keep a school open over Christmas
          • £5,000 will pay the deposit on a minibus so that schools can take children on trips themselves

          It doesn’t explain what the parents are doing with their benefit payments or why the schools need charity to restock their libraries.

          • Fred H
            Posted January 16, 2020 at 4:31 pm | Permalink

            you haven’t read it all. Areas like Blackpool often start with failing schools, parents stop sending kids there, per head means income falls, ‘better teachers move on’. Separated, divorced, abandoned spouses discover areas like Blackpool have lower rents (due to poor housing stock, iffy landlords, low incomes) so these unfortunate single parent poor arrive from other places. Often are alone with children with ‘issues’ so cannot work fulltime, benefits can take time to catch up, the cycle of debt begins….Schools in so called wealthy areas often ask for money for pens, paper – even toilet paper. In this area a school near Wargrave for instance.

    • Ian @Barkham
      Posted January 15, 2020 at 12:33 pm | Permalink

      The only thing wrong with that theory is that pension payments have over the years never gone into pension pots to ensure future payouts, but have been consumed elsewhere for political dreams. So a whole generation has been conned into payments for something that doesn’t exist.

      There is no unfair generational inequality, the infrastructure, the schooling, hospitals have been bought and paid for by a previous generation. Which would have worked equitably if the population growth had been balanced.

      You like me were presumably born in the UK in a Hospital, had schooling, health care, able to get around on a transport infrastructure at no cost in your formative years, all funded by a previous generation. That generation had compulsory pension payments taken that literally just disappeared. There is no state pension fund that invests for a future.

      The stress on the system is that people are born into our society with the expectations of things should be free and there is no need to contribute. You get part way there with a balanced population. However, the population is now 30% bigger than in 2000. We have ended up with the opposite to your assumption, we have more getting a free ride on the back of those you wish to punnish

  11. Dave Andrews
    Posted January 15, 2020 at 7:14 am | Permalink

    The NHS budget could be relieved of its responsibility to treat lifestyle diseases. Make the sufferers pay their own costs privately.
    The money saved could go in part on reducing taxes, and in part on reducing the National Debt.

    • Posted January 15, 2020 at 9:08 am | Permalink

      Tax is not an unimportant detail. It matters a lot. People like my own children who are now in middle management can choose where to live. And they do not choose overtaxed countries like UK! This is actually pretty urgent.

  12. Cheshire Girl
    Posted January 15, 2020 at 7:17 am | Permalink

    I would also cancel HS2, and divert some Foreign Aid to the things you mention.

    There must be many other savings we could make, too numerous to mention. In my opinion, we don’t need ‘Equalities ‘Ministers, ‘Ministers for Women ‘etc. and all the other so called ‘essential ‘posts. Furthermore, Im not at all sure we need Police and Crime Commissioners.
    Taxpayers money is being wasted on an industrial scale. Time for a thorough review.

    • Cheshire Girl
      Posted January 15, 2020 at 7:46 am | Permalink

      And, another thing. For pity’s sake, get rid of the Equalities and Human Rights Commission. Article in the media today, about banter in pubs and other places. Unfortunately, I don’t know how to post the link to it.
      We may soon have to take a vow of silence when we are out and about!

    • jerry
      Posted January 15, 2020 at 8:44 am | Permalink

      @Cheshire Girl; Yes a lot of money is being wasted on gesture politics, and I would add the Metropolitan Mayors to the list.

      But it’s not all about saving money, perhaps more important is spending money wisely, DfID has been mentioned. Whilst the whole of Central govt has simply become far to large, at the same time their Agencies etc, along with local non-metropolitan govts, have shrunk to the point were trying to deal with them in-person has become all but impossible – web-based and telephone help centres etc are poor replacements for local offices [1] and a P2P appointment were documents or what ever can be shared easily and securely, meaning many problems are sorted quickly and (more) efficiently.

      [1] and I don’t mean at a podium table in the entrance foyer of the office, as is the case with my local district council, first having to wait perhaps an hour for your ‘bingo’ number to be called

    • JoolsB
      Posted January 15, 2020 at 9:51 am | Permalink

      Indeed – how many billions a year does it cost to run separate devolved parliaments whilst maintaining equal representation in the form of MPs in the UK Parliament? Not to mention Secretaries of State for those devolved legislatures. Then there are what must be up to 900 Lords and Ladies all claiming £310 a day tax free merely for signing in for no longer in many cases than it takes to enjoy their taxpayer subsidised lunches before signing off again.

      The social care crisis could be sorted in a heartbeat with a fraction of what we squander on foreign aid.

  13. Andy
    Posted January 15, 2020 at 7:18 am | Permalink

    We will still be paying the EU until the 2060s under your Brexit deal. I’ll be into my 90s by then. My son, currently at primary school, will be in his 50s. His entire working life spent paying for the Brexit folly. And this is before we add in the additional
    payments to the EU Boris Johnson will agree in return for a trade deal. Of course these will be given a friendly name – Boris’ Scientific Development Fund or Trade Facilitation Compensation Scheme – but they will amount to the same thing. Cash for access but with no say.

    Meanwhile I would build HS2 – as well as HS3 and 4. I would still invest properly in existing services and new schemes in London and the North at the same time. I’d scrap the real white elephant- Hinckley Point nuclear power station – and invest more than double in renewable schemes across the country instead. I’d double the aid budget, halve defence spending – and provide free childcare. All paid for by axing state pensions and old age perks. And because the biggest chunk of my taxes go on these old age perks
    – I’d still have plenty left for tax cuts. Oh and I’d undo Brexit and make sure Big Ben did bong as we go back it. What a country.

    • Fred H
      Posted January 15, 2020 at 5:05 pm | Permalink

      I was disappointed to learn you only have 1 son. If you had several more they could each help with the ‘paying for the Brexit folly’.

    • jerry
      Posted January 15, 2020 at 5:46 pm | Permalink

      @Andy; “Meanwhile I would build HS2 – as well as HS3 and 4. [..//..] I’d scrap the real white elephant- Hinckley Point nuclear power station”

      For pity sake, do yourself a favour, find at least one clue!

      Were is HS2, 3, & 4 going to get its electricity when the sun isn’t shining and/or the wind isn’t blowing (or indeed it is blowing to strongly meaning the turbine blades have to be stopped to protect the gearbox from over speeding and self destructing)?..

      What I would say about Hinckley Point is, we need a serious debate about who we should be allowing to build strategic infrastructure projects, and at what end cost to the tax payer -they will be paying for it what ever, either via their taxes or energy bills.

  14. Ian Wilson
    Posted January 15, 2020 at 7:18 am | Permalink

    Cancel public spending on smart meters. If they are so beneficial why can’t householders buy their own?
    End subsidies on electric cars, at least for expensive ones, which encourage the disgraceful mining practices involving child labour for the battery minerals. If a buyer can afford an £80,000 car why should taxpayers subsidise it?

    • Gary C
      Posted January 15, 2020 at 8:07 am | Permalink

      “End subsidies on electric cars, at least for expensive ones, which encourage the disgraceful mining practices involving child labour for the battery minerals. If a buyer can afford an £80,000 car why should taxpayers subsidise it?”

      Agreed and also stop the scrappage schemes which do nothing for the environment.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted January 15, 2020 at 8:07 am | Permalink

      I agree it is idiotic. Electric cars are not “zero emission” you still have to build them, manufacture the (short life) batteries and then generate the electricity too.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted January 15, 2020 at 10:03 am | Permalink

        You do not need a smart meter to tell you what is switches on and using electricity just look around and switch things off if not needed – lights, fridge, freezer, oven, dishwasher, washing machine, kettle, hot water, electric heaters/showers/water heaters and not much else. Most of these you are not going to do without anyway and the only ones that use much electricity are heaters or water heaters. In general far better/cheaper and more efficient to heat & cook with gas. But for some daft reason they want to ban this!

    • Fred H
      Posted January 15, 2020 at 9:25 am | Permalink

      yes – status symbols come at a cost. Imported ‘luxury’ cars to impress the neighbours.

    • cynic
      Posted January 15, 2020 at 9:32 am | Permalink

      Dispense with all the Green subsidies. Also, abolish regulations which add to private costs, thereby making items more expensive.

      • Mark B
        Posted January 15, 2020 at 3:59 pm | Permalink


    • Stred
      Posted January 15, 2020 at 9:42 am | Permalink

      IW. +
      No more offshore wind and large solar. Replace old nuclear with anything but EPRs.
      Cancel ban on gas boilers. Subsidize insulation materials.
      Rip up and cancel cycle lanes along arterial roads, traffic slowing features and sack civil servants who thought of them. No more smart dangerous motorways.
      Cancel Heathrow extension and build runways at Gatwick and Stansted.
      Open old Central Line as previously proposed and cancelled by parliament with normal speed trains instead of 250mph with tunnels. Sue HS2 management for rip off salaries.
      Cancel NHS artificial market and issue vouchers for patients to chose doctors and hospitals. Investigate and stop ghost patient rip off. Charge all foreign patients full cost.
      Change education to traditional methods with whole class teaching and discipline as used in countries with higher standards and less cost.
      Close universities which do not allow free speech and push political woke cobblers.
      Ban public relations expenditure by councils, NHS, etc.
      Sack 75% of excessive admirals, generals etc at MOD and sell the useless aircraft carriers to the ex German defence minister now running the EU defence. She’s probably daft enough to buy them.
      Cancel BBC licence. Just found out they have been double charging the wife for nine years.
      Sack the whole nudge unit and purge any common purpose control running kit kat schemes.
      Cancel refurbishment of House of Parliament and sell it as hotel and theme park, restaurants. Abolish Lords. Reduce MPs to 360. Move to somewhere cheap up North.

      • Fred H
        Posted January 15, 2020 at 5:02 pm | Permalink

        not a bad list.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted January 16, 2020 at 2:51 am | Permalink

        That all sounds fine. Has the Office of Tax Simplification ever simplified any taxes? Tax seem to have doubled in complexity in the time they have been around. But perhaps this is largely the fault of Hammond and Osborne. If they are not allowed to simplify tax what is the point of them?

        • Lifelogic
          Posted January 16, 2020 at 3:08 am | Permalink

          Certain ERP reactors seem to be a dire choice.

    • miami.mode
      Posted January 15, 2020 at 11:14 am | Permalink

      Ian, smart meters will give some “authority” complete control over our electricity usage.

    • bigneil(newercomp)
      Posted January 15, 2020 at 11:23 am | Permalink

      I’d like to know why we have to pay extra to have cheaper electricity on Economy 7 night time? Why can’t it just be the lower rate – and people would automatically move things to operate then ( reducing the daytime load on the supply system) which is going to grow as yet more and more houses are built.

    • Ian @Barkham
      Posted January 15, 2020 at 11:40 am | Permalink

      Smart meters are not there to benefit the consumer, in the respect they don’t actual reduce bills. They do however, save the energy supply companies millions which they choose not to pass on.

      The car subsidies just as with all subsidies of this nature are there so those that can’t afford something get to pay for the life style of those that can. Smoke and mirrors – look at us we are helping the World.

  15. Posted January 15, 2020 at 7:34 am | Permalink

    The new fiscal rules require the government to only spend what it collects in taxes,

    Spending comes first and then taxes are collected from that spending because private sector spending is someone else’s income.

    The more government spends the more taxes collected from the increased activity in the spending chains which controls inflation. Unless, the private sector decided to start saving more of their income instead of spending it.

    We live in a spend and then tax economy not a tax and then spend. The taxes collected destroy broad money they are not stored in a huge shed to be used later.

    Ask the BOE if you do not believe me.

    The spending rule is non sensical from the get go. Where the sophists have turned politics and ideology into a fiscal constraint that does not exist.

  16. Caterpillar
    Posted January 15, 2020 at 7:49 am | Permalink

    HS2 London to Birmingham to Manchester is a capital project that must go ahead, and ideally be delivered sooner. The reasons for this in terms of cities driving growth remain obvious, beyond Manchester there would be debate vs. Political expediency/the union. Moving the political centre out of London would add momentum so I would scrap spend on Westminster and have a devolved English parliament in Birmingham, union parliament in Manchester/Liverpool.
    There is much to be done in education to drive the cities forward, but I suspect this is more general policy than just spend. Similar comments can be made about safety, cleanliness etc. – all the things that help cities fulfil their role; it is policy, implementation and spend.
    If overseas aid is maintained some could be directed to plastic disposal and incineration in poorer countries. Plastic is great! It provides lightweight packaging, extends food life and allows use of oil before it is cleanly burned for energy (in principle).

  17. Posted January 15, 2020 at 7:53 am | Permalink

    Scrap HS2 – a waste of taxpayers’ money, and a lot of people “up North” recognise it as such. Spend a lesser sum on smaller, less flashy transport projects that really needed instead.

    Cut student grants for degrees in which there is not a skills shortage, or where a vocational route to qualifying exists. We’re saddling a generation of people with debt, incurred doing courses they were ill advised to do, whilst enriching the overly-powerful educational establishment.

    Cut the BBC licence fee. If the BBC is worth it, people will subscribe. Retain the World Service, funded from the foreign aid budget.

    Posted January 15, 2020 at 7:54 am | Permalink

    Who cares what the Tory government does. We know your party’s been betraying morality and truthfulness for years now. We know the Tory party’s now in government as a reaction to Marxist Labour not because the electorate believe in your policies

    We know we will be tied to the EU in some shape or form. It won’t be Brexit

    We know this government will continue dancing to the tune of the Progressive left and turn a blind eye to the control they exert over our lives through the control they now enjoy throughout the public sector

    You either dismiss these people from our public bodies or you sow the seeds of a more oppressive State in the years to come

    • Mark B
      Posted January 15, 2020 at 4:03 pm | Permalink


  19. Oggy
    Posted January 15, 2020 at 8:02 am | Permalink

    Agree with you regarding HS2 – cancel it, it’s an expensive white elephant.

    Foreign aid needs to be severely trimmed by at least 80%, more than enough is already spent on migrants already in the UK.

    Why should there be more payments to the EU ? They should be paying us to trade, and why don’t we leave on Jan 31st as we aren’t transitioning to anything. It’s Just an excuse to keep us in longer at £1bn a month.

    If the Duke and Duchess of Kent want to step back from royal duties and live abroad they should be supporting themselves. I see Trudeau has already been asking who is going to pay for them, no doubt the British taxpayer will foot the bill.

    Commons expenses needs curtailment, the previous speaker should pay for his own £1000 taxi fare. It’s far too easy to spend other people’s money.

    Cull the numbers in the House of Lords, enforced retirement at 70 should remove most of them.

    • Oggy
      Posted January 15, 2020 at 8:09 am | Permalink

      Should be ‘Sussex’ not Kent !

  20. Lifelogic
    Posted January 15, 2020 at 8:02 am | Permalink

    Best things to cancelled from the present huge budget.

    All the subsidies for solar, wind, tidal, wave or other so called “renewables”
    All the market rigging to subsidise renewables and push up energy costs. HS2 and Hinckley C. About half of the state sector produce little or nothing of any value and many do positive harm so this half should all be released to get a real job. About 2/3 of current degrees funded by soft student “loans” could go as could all the people running these duff degree courses.
    The unification of income tax and NI employers and employees which is also income tax and fire all the duplicated admin staff needed.
    Much of the subsidisation of transport is misguided too. The BBC propaganda organisation licence fee/tax should go, salaries there are far too high and it is hugely bloated.
    Stop subsidies for the arts & culture people can pay for their own amusement. Stop all funding for minority or virtually dead languages in the UK, again let people pay for their own hobbies.
    Go for easy hire and fire and get rid of nearly much the employment tribunal system that does so much harm. Repeal the Climate change act and fire all involved with the Committee on Climate Change. Abolish the House of Lords stuffed as it is with lefty, green crap pushing remainers. Scrap all space programmes other than for near earth satellites. Save the NHS money and cut the queues by giving people part payment vouchers for operations they need or tax breaks to go privately and to insure themselves. Cut all alternative medical treatments, vanity treatments, virgin repair operations etc. on the NHS. Stop all the road blocking and anti-car traffic light systems. All government & social houses should be let at market rates with assistance given only to those who really need it. The current system is unfair competition.

    Above all cut taxes and give people freedom to choose for themselves.
    Have just one complaint system for logging all complaints against the state sector negligence or incompetence and not thousands of them.
    Abolish charitable tax relieve for all but the few real charities.
    Abolish all the over the top building regulations often driven by green lunacy.
    Simplify taxes and fire all the additional staff you need to administer the current absurdly complex system.
    Get defence procurement to be run efficiently they waste £billions on totally the wrong things..
    Abolish the hate (hurt feelings) crime agenda and fire all those administering it.
    Have a criminal justice system that deters real crimes rather than encouraging more and more of it as currently.
    Make is illegal to use public money for political propaganda and enforce it. Make it illegal for MP and Lords to take so called “consultancy” fees from pressure groups especially the renewables ones or ones wanting more regulation or red tape on this or that activity.

  21. Kenneth
    Posted January 15, 2020 at 8:14 am | Permalink

    The government should not be using taxpayer money to prop up companies. This distorts the market and effectively provides a one-way bet for shareholders.

    I am disappointed that the government is using my money in this way.

    • Mark B
      Posted January 15, 2020 at 4:10 pm | Permalink

      It is amazing that our government cannot subsidise steel workers jobs but can subsidise wind and solar power owned by foreign companies.

  22. turboterrier
    Posted January 15, 2020 at 8:17 am | Permalink

    Repeal the climate change act , level playing fields ending constaint payments.
    Stop all the subsidies on electric vehicles. The cost creating an efficient support charging network is just not there and such an infrastructure is light years away.
    Get rid of all the quangos , climate change committee and the like.
    Stop panicking over getting rid of diesel and petrol and explore another fuel option other than electric. Hydrogen could be the key for not only transport but domestic heating.
    Stop running scared of the greens and come up with realistic projects that bring value to GB plc. Cheap energy is the key to creating more meaningful employment and profit for the investors
    Above all start exceeding people’s expectations and under promise and over deliver.


  23. Alan Jutson
    Posted January 15, 2020 at 8:28 am | Permalink

    You could start saving money by spending it more wisely, and negotiating contracts properly, so that projects are delivered on time, on Budget, with a guarantee that they will work as intended.

    Why do we need a fixed percentage foreign aid budget at all, when we still supplement that with manpower and equipment for natural disasters.

    All road repairs to be guaranteed as fit for use for 5 years, so that we do not constantly throw money at making good the so called making good after utility Companies have destroyed our road surfaces.

  24. Posted January 15, 2020 at 8:39 am | Permalink

    Part of the huge Foreign Aid budget should be used to recompense the NHS for any unrecoverable costs from treating visitors to our country.
    That treatment is ”foreign aid”, isn’t it?

    • Mark B
      Posted January 15, 2020 at 4:11 pm | Permalink

      No ! Make all foreigners who visit this country take out private health insurance. Other countries demand it why can’t we ?

  25. Posted January 15, 2020 at 8:46 am | Permalink

    Suggestions are pointless, I cannot imagine the prime minister and his innumerable colleagues doing anything sensible.
    And why should they? they are provincial governors, satraps.

  26. Posted January 15, 2020 at 9:04 am | Permalink

    Ever since man became civilized, he has loved warmth, being well fed, being surrounded by young beautiful people and having a lick of power. Ever read about heaven in the Koran?

    Today you can get all that by being a Vice Chancellor of the University on half a million a year (after perks). You can do it in the NHS too by not saying anything much and being a reliable administrator, far from the wards. You can certainly do it in Academies so long as you keep very clear of actual schools and join the “Team”. There are a lot of Police doing stuff in the office when they ought to be out dealing with and preventing criminals taking over.

    Montgomery dealt with this by living himself in a fly-blown caravan. JP Morgan, the banker and robber baron, did it by never heating his house. Ulysses S Grant did it by simply ordering the officers and men who were hanging round with not much to do back to the front. Soon people realised that Head Office was not a nice place to relax.

    Sir John, you yourself realise that being in charge means SERVICE not SELF. You can perhaps persuade several people of this unpleasant fact and save a bucketful of money that way.

    • Mark B
      Posted January 15, 2020 at 4:15 pm | Permalink

      In a company I worked for the new owner had all the chairs taken out of the office to make the managers (sic) work on the shop floor as they were supposed to do. Too much time in the office looking at computer screens and their mobiles whist things were not getting done.

  27. Kevin
    Posted January 15, 2020 at 9:06 am | Permalink

    “I would toughen and spell out the terms of any future payments to the EU, as we do not wish to be paying more to them…[after] the end of this year.”

    Unfortunately, because of the Conservative Party’s Withdrawal Agreement, it does not appear that the UK will be in any position to do this. For example, aside from the matter of UK contributions to EU pensions (Art. 142), which will continue, so the OBR expects, until the 2060s, there is also the following to consider:
    1) Art. 136(1) expressly provides that: “[EU] law concerning the [EU’s] own resources [in other words, it seems, the EU Budget] relating to financial years until 2020 shall continue to apply to the [UK] after 31 December 2020, including where the own resources concerned are to be…corrected or subject to adjustments after that date (emphases, here and below, added);
    2) Art. 136(3)(d) provides that for meetings relating to point 1, “the representatives…of the [UK],…may, upon invitation, exceptionally attend, without voting rights;
    3) Art. 160 appears to give the ECJ jurisdiction in the context of Art. 136; and,
    4) It is my understanding that corrections or adjustments (under point 1) that are based on revisions to VAT or gross national income can be substantial, and that, although they have been time limited in these cases, the limit is that “the relevant measures…are decided upon no later than 31 December 2028” (Art. 136(3)(e)).

    • Mark B
      Posted January 15, 2020 at 4:18 pm | Permalink

      All the costs but none of the benefits.

  28. Wil Pretty
    Posted January 15, 2020 at 9:07 am | Permalink

    Implement the Dieter Helm energy review recommendations on energy saving and the energy market.

  29. Posted January 15, 2020 at 9:12 am | Permalink

    Agree as ever re HS2 and Overseas Aid. In business the financials being the maths of everything that happens were my anchor with ongoing ratio analysis to manage efficiency, productivity etc allied to an ongoing tough questioning process to justify the big ticket costs. All driven by targets.

    It would be good to know from you what ‘financials’ if any Ministers get, how often reviewed etc because you assiduously avoid mentioning targets without which the so called efficiency exercises are worthless. Nothing to aim at and nothing to measure.

    I do not know enough to be specific but rationalisation and amalgamation and taking out layers of management must have major benefits.

    Regional back office support,HR/IT/contract management for Local Authorities, the Police, NHS rather than in every county, force, trust.

    Equally procurement. If Amazon can do the fulfilment it does, centralising and therefore driving costs down of what the public sector uses daily should be a priority.

    20 % head count reduction through the eradication of outdated legacy IT systems.

    A complete shake up of Big ticket Project Management. Civil servants to be trained to the highest standards, weekly/monthly performance reports to be put in the public domain with genuine people management to get rid if poor performers. This is needed across the whole public sector.

    Finally, low level drug taking seems to occupy a vast amount of police time. Your policy has failed and politically you do not have the courage to do anything about it. Time for the State to take over the provision. Eliminate the dealers/county lines/gang deaths etc at a stroke.

  30. Everhopeful
    Posted January 15, 2020 at 9:20 am | Permalink

    Cancel HS2!!
    Also consider that the NHS could save a lot of dosh if there weren’t so many health and safety /politically correct rules that hamper the setting up of local Slimming Clubs/Fitness/Judo etc. Nobody ever died from joining an “unregulated” slimming or exercise class.

  31. Newmania
    Posted January 15, 2020 at 9:23 am | Permalink

    The Lesson

    Let say I live in a market town with a delightful stream that sparkles and babbles through its heart. Let’s say the Council decide to borrow some cash, or even print some cash, to build a lovely bridge.
    “This isn’t squander” they say, “Its investments.” Everyone is impressed and the “Keynesian “ bridge is built
    Glory be! It turns out that the increased size of the local economy due to the infra structure investment may take up the inflationary slack or repay the debt in increased taxes.
    The council bask in their triumph and realise that the mere word” bridge “ fills everyone with admiration for them and their plans. It is almost like free money.

    The problem comes when they try to convince everyone that another bridge would be worth borrowing or printing for. They do this because they are getting the blame for a recession and building another bridge which no-one needs, will disguise the problem leaving the town`s children to pay.

    Worse still ,as they are running out of money, they start counting ordinary maintenance of the first bridge as “investment “and before long filling potholes is deemed bridge related investment by which they justify more and more debt.

    The clever children of the town see who will be paying and start to think how much nicer it would be to live somewhere that was not run by charlatans ..and leave.

    Here endeth the parable of the bridge

    • Edward2
      Posted January 15, 2020 at 6:27 pm | Permalink

      Youu fail to say what economic benefits this bridge will create.

    • NickC
      Posted January 15, 2020 at 10:29 pm | Permalink

      Newmania said: “… the “Keynesian “ bridge is built …”.

      Here endeth the parable of the bridge as told by Jeremy Corbyn.

  32. dennisambler
    Posted January 15, 2020 at 9:28 am | Permalink

    Now there is a government majority, priority should be given to repeal of the Climate Change Act and disbanding the Climate Change Committee. Oh, and we could cancel the Glasgow UN COP 26 pantomime in November, where we will have thousands of delegates flying in from around the world, telling us to stop flying, together with preaching from St Greta.

    One can but dream.

  33. GeorgeP
    Posted January 15, 2020 at 9:29 am | Permalink

    Regarding HS2, think outside of the box. I’d sack everyone currently associated with it as it clearly has become a money making exercise, as they seem to be making up the numbers as they go. Then I’d draft in the Chinese to build it lock stock and barrel, with their own engineers and labour. We’d get a shiny new railway at a fraction of the current projected costs and in a fraction of the time. Job done!

  34. Pass this fist
    Posted January 15, 2020 at 9:32 am | Permalink

    “It is anyway necessary to regularly review spending and to challenge public sector managers over how well it is being spent.”
    Yes, challenge them. It is also literally true hanging is too good for them

    • Martin in Cardiff
      Posted January 15, 2020 at 3:43 pm | Permalink

      Let me get this right.

      If an NHS manager, say, in your opinion, allocates too much money to cosmetic surgery rather than to hip implants, then you think that he should be executed, but with the proviso that hanging would be too good for him?

      Didn’t we and the allies fight a terrible war, to defeat those who had similar views?

      • Fred H
        Posted January 15, 2020 at 4:50 pm | Permalink

        Ha Ha – yes a bit extreme. However, we could strap them almost undressed to a trolley in a public draughty corridor, no food or drink, no mobile, no access to a toilet, no ward staff to ask about updates. About 16 hours later we could say ‘good news, we have a bed, but you will have to wait for someone to move you to xxxxx ward – not at all appropriate, but better than here’. Anyone passing by is instructed to say ‘can’t stop, I’m busy’.

        • Lifelogic
          Posted January 16, 2020 at 3:03 am | Permalink

          Good plan.

  35. Frankie
    Posted January 15, 2020 at 9:36 am | Permalink

    Today it’s all of the things John would do- this is all only nonsense talk of course for to bring about change, real change, you need to be in No 11, or at very least at the cabinet table

    • Mark B
      Posted January 15, 2020 at 4:21 pm | Permalink


  36. Posted January 15, 2020 at 9:59 am | Permalink

    Just today the NAO announces that up to £18 billion in business support schemes is being wasted through poor design, delivery, marketing etc.

    Anyone who has been involved with these will confirm this has been happening for at least the last 20 years.

    Outsourced to companies with little experience apart from how to win the being asked to deliver and agreeing to ridiculous outcomes and then scrabbling around to find the numbers so that the Minister can announce the project has been a success.

    I remember we came up with the ‘lightest touch’ our contract would allow that made no difference to the business involved but enabled the Minister to trumpet the numbers.

    All of these were audited of course but again the civil servant auditing couldn’t care less, often failed to understand the project and we duped them regularly re the outcomes..

    Neither Ministers nor Civil Servants had any concept of measuring the economic benefit as long as ‘thousands’ were delivered ‘must be doing some good’!

    Apprenticeship schemes in the last five years have been a prime example. Providers developed the ‘easiest/easiest/shortest ‘ possible that make little or no difference to the employees performance or is a true transferable qualification bu enables the Provider to draw down on the contract and the Minister to brag about its success but again no comment on economic benefit.

    Here I am in total agreement with Lifelogic. In this respect many Ministers/ civil servants just not up to it.

  37. Ahhhh!!!
    Posted January 15, 2020 at 10:14 am | Permalink

    There is a problem with giving Overseas Aid say to Yemen, the favourite dumping ground for vote seeking of the SNP and the Labour Party.
    The bedrock of the political groupings there are the ones receiving the aid and ultimately propping up their terrorists simply by the kind of tribalism we see in voting here in the UK, the reasons for which the best of us are aware and don’t particularly enjoy its manifestation out of its time.
    Should we help starving people? We should. But realise consequences beyond goodly thoughfulness and honour.

  38. Bob
    Posted January 15, 2020 at 10:16 am | Permalink

    I read in the papers that Olly Robbins (now working for Goldman Sachs) has been made a Knight Commander by Order of Saint Michael and Saint George – an honour given for extraordinary services abroad.

    A Tory Brexiteer MP said: “I would have thought a Legion d’honneur would have been more appropriate for his services to the European Union.”

    This serves to devalue the honour rightly conferred upon our deserving host.

    Goldman Sachs seems to have become a retirement home for Remain activists.

  39. Bob
    Posted January 15, 2020 at 10:25 am | Permalink

    “this means that the government does need to be careful with its spending”

    Well there’s plenty of low hanging fruit but I suspect they’ll be mugging pensioners and cutting back further on defence instead.

  40. Old person
    Posted January 15, 2020 at 10:45 am | Permalink

    Scrap HS2 immediately. For a long term project the Severn Barrage is a cleaner and better long investment. It would bring jobs into South Wales. The timescale for the project would enable the necessary protections for Slimbridge, and releasing some low value land on the Somerset Levels could enable more wildlife habitats. If additional capital investment were needed, a sound project is the best advertisement for funding.

    And sounding the bongs of Big Ben at the end of this month at a cost of £500,000. What planet do some politicians live on. There must be thousands of high-quality recordings in existence. £10,000 for a sound system would suffice. Some wag could edit them and play ‘Ode to Joy’, or better still ‘Farewell, Goodbye’ from the Sound of Music.

  41. Posted January 15, 2020 at 11:08 am | Permalink

    When you tell me that Ministers/Civil Servants are signing up to something like Inseads ‘Blue Ocean Policy’ development modules I will believe that you are genuinely interested in improvement and something measurable will happen

    Excellent case study about a government initiative in Singapore.

    Until that happens I and many others will continue to believe that HMG and the Civil Service is not ‘fit’ for purpose and regular stories in the press will confirm it.

    Today a five year computer glitch meant 75000 foreign criminal convictions were not advised to their Governments and then covered up, our reputation more important than the safety of their general public’s.

  42. agricola
    Posted January 15, 2020 at 11:13 am | Permalink

    Yes I would cancel HS2, because there is no financial or social case for an expensive , yes even more expensive rail link Birmingham to London. It is not going to cater for the majority of travellers. Tomorrow I will fly Alicante to Birmingham with lots of leg room for around £50, I’ve forgotten exactly how much. Why not invest in linking all our cities with each other and London City Airport for £20 a seat, walk on walk off, hand luggage, and electronic screening. That would put an end to the expensive slow, often very uncomfortable nonsense of current rail travel. I’m sure Richard Branson could show you how to do it.

    I would want to see OA’s accounts in forensic detail before deciding what to do long term, however I would immediately send half of the 2020 budget to Australia to mitigate the bushfire disaster. This is about £6 Billion. All the current recipients of OA could learn to live with less free money for a year. The PR bonus in Australia would be enormous.

    If you have the ear of the PM, make use of it particularly in the case of OA.

    • bill brown
      Posted January 15, 2020 at 7:14 pm | Permalink


      Interesting and new thinking on a few fronts but not very green in its approach and therefore not viable

      • NickC
        Posted January 15, 2020 at 10:38 pm | Permalink

        Bill Brown, Every “green” policy has been a failure so far. And CAGW is a hoax. So we can save £16bn+/yr by cutting out all “green” subsidies.

        • bill brown
          Posted January 16, 2020 at 8:38 am | Permalink


          your world perception seems to be more of a hoax, wake up please and look around you , the world is on fire

          • Edward2
            Posted January 16, 2020 at 4:30 pm | Permalink

            Well just over one degree increase since 1850.
            Measured globally as an average.
            Not quite fire.

          • NickC
            Posted January 16, 2020 at 6:19 pm | Permalink

            Bill Brown, Wake up yourself, the “world” is not on fire. Claiming that the current Australian bush fires are anything to do with climate change is a hoax.

  43. bigneil(newercomp)
    Posted January 15, 2020 at 11:25 am | Permalink

    VERY good post John – Charity begins at home – look after ourselves first.

  44. Peter
    Posted January 15, 2020 at 12:32 pm | Permalink

    Addressing the scale and nature of overseas aid and clamping down on payments to the EU would certainly be popular with many of the general public.

    Unfortunately, they are that section of the general public who are routinely ignored by politicians.

    So I don’t hold out much expectation of change.

  45. Narrow Shoulders
    Posted January 15, 2020 at 12:40 pm | Permalink

    Review the Barnett formula to make it more equitable, reducing contributions to the level enjoyed per head by the English.

  46. Annemieke Blondeel
    Posted January 15, 2020 at 1:09 pm | Permalink

    I would like to suggest that part of the phenomenal investment in the NHS, steps are taken to ensure that the investment is in the first-line staff and systems and that a serious cull of management (pen pushers) levels takes place. Not by means of “management consultants” who charge a couple of thousand pounds per day, but by asking every “administrator” to justify his position, merging those that overlap and removing those functions which can easily be taken over within existing positions. From what I see at three local hospitals, most of these “administrators” only generate more paperwork to be filled in by first-line staff so they have something to process… Such a cull would be a worthwhile job for the overpaid directors of NHS Trusts. I suggest they are given the task of reducing admin functions by at least 20% in a first round.

  47. mancunius
    Posted January 15, 2020 at 3:00 pm | Permalink

    Cancel HS2, certainly. Those businessmen glibly pontificating on the airwaves about the ‘need for a high-speed service from one end of the country to the other’ have forgotten that you can’t jump off a train at will. HS2 may leave you fifty miles from the destination you could previously easily reach with an express. So you then wait for an hour on a station platform for a second train. Making it in total a longer and more challenging journey.
    France is perfectly shaped, sized and structured for a TGV travel network. England is far too small and densely populated for HS to be the slightest use except to property owners who want to see their house values rise.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted January 15, 2020 at 7:10 pm | Permalink

      Exactly high speed trains do not stop much so your journey is far longer so door to door not high speed at all. Not green nor remotely economic and not sensible. Anyway you can work on trains now – so speed is far, far less important.

  48. NickC
    Posted January 15, 2020 at 3:23 pm | Permalink

    Scrap DfID completely, and roll about £2bn/yr into the FCO earmarked for disasters only, monitored by the HoC (saving about £12bn/yr).
    Scrap HS2 (about £10bn/yr for 10 years).
    Scrap all “green” and so-called “renewables” subsidies entirely (£16bn+/yr – Civitas).
    Scrap the so-called “smart” (ie unsafe) motorways program (£27m/mile).
    Payments to the EU – the ICAEW reckons cost are £5bn or £15bn plus net costs to end 2020. However UK should not be liable for ‘reste a liquider’ payments, nor pension liabilities since there is no fund. That means the EU owes us £5bn. So about £4bn/yr for 8 years.
    Scrap all English “devolution” (£millions).
    Encourage fracking for gas; set up a scheme for the energy companies to compensate householders nearby (saving £bns/yr).

    That’s a saving of around £40bn/yr for the next decade at least, plus cheaper energy.

    • bill brown
      Posted January 15, 2020 at 7:13 pm | Permalink


      Very interesting perspective and some constructive proposals as well, thank you .

      Unfortunately , on green energy you are totally out of touch

      • NickC
        Posted January 15, 2020 at 10:43 pm | Permalink

        Bill Brown, Wind and Solar will always be more expensive than natural fuels like coal gas and oil. That’s because both these “renewables” must have natural fuel or nuclear back-up – which has to be paid for. So why not use the back-ups all the time and save the cost of the windmills etc in the first place?

        • bill brown
          Posted January 16, 2020 at 8:36 am | Permalink


          Because the world is getting too hot and we need to deal with it now

          • Edward2
            Posted January 16, 2020 at 4:33 pm | Permalink

            Just over one degree since 1850.
            Too hot you think?
            Yet humans have survived on the planet in temperatures ranging from 40 degrees to below zero.

          • NickC
            Posted January 16, 2020 at 6:21 pm | Permalink

            Bill brown, How do you *know* the world is getting “too hot”? Is there some God-given global temperature that you can cite? Or perhaps you think that the 1850 global temperature is optimal? Do tell.

        • anon
          Posted January 16, 2020 at 11:30 pm | Permalink

          Onshore wind is cheaper than (new) gas and coal.
          (websearch it). 2/3 cents a kwh.
          All energy inputs to a system require backup. When any large plant goes off-line other plant or storage or demand removal picks up the slack.
          Industrial storage of energy (renewable & other) will soon render uneconomic peaker plants and further aid renewables cost advantage.
          We should aim to overprovision renewable wind capacity and curtail it in the interim if use can’t be made for it. That way we will have backup for when Hinkley (the new one, not built yet) goes unexpectedly offline.

          • NickC
            Posted January 22, 2020 at 11:30 pm | Permalink

            Anon, Gas, Coal, and Nuclear are reliable and predictable. Wind can vary by the hour, or even by the minute. Generally for a Gas Coal Nuclear mix you might need a 10% margin for unexpected breakdowns. For Wind you need something like 90% backup. It’s the backup costs that are not included for the Wind costs you see being touted that make Wind more expensive.

  49. Edward2
    Posted January 15, 2020 at 3:24 pm | Permalink

    In business organisations I have been involved in, an objective is set by management to try to reduce department costs by a small percentage almost every year.
    Although initially resisted, it is remarkable what savings can be achieved.
    Just doing environmental improvements like splitting and recycling waste streams can save a lot.
    Or getting new quotes on supplier contracts can reveal savings.

    It seems in hierarchical structures, like all government departments, the savings get passed down the management structure and all savings hit the front line.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted January 15, 2020 at 7:11 pm | Permalink

      In the state sector 20% a year for three years would be perfectly possible without anyone even noticing a reduction in useful output!

    • bill brown
      Posted January 17, 2020 at 12:14 pm | Permalink

      Edward 2

      I am sorry but you just do not get it, it is much more than the temperature

      • Edward2
        Posted January 17, 2020 at 6:30 pm | Permalink

        Hotter colder wetter and dryer are all now caused by the small increase in temperature since 1850.
        It has become s belief system.

  50. Ian Wilson
    Posted January 15, 2020 at 3:34 pm | Permalink

    Dennisambler is spot on proposing repeal of the Climate Change Act, perhaps the most costly legislation ever passed and affecting temperatures by the square root of zero degrees, and abolishing the Climate Change Committee whose chairman and others have very vested interests in promoting the hysteria.

    He is right, too, in urging cancellation of the COP 26 conference when the Green Mafia will go into overdrive attacking the government since, like blackmailers, whatever is given to them is never enough.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted January 15, 2020 at 5:53 pm | Permalink

      Quite right.

      The BBC PM programme in overdrive already (yet again) tonight with their endless climate alarmist drivel. Bogus claptrap science from beginning to end.

      Why do we never get any discussion of the many positive effects from a slight increase in atmospheric CO2? The greening of the planet, more tree growth, more food, more insects and animal life and increased crop yields. Why would everywhere get worse? In BBC think – some places are bound to get better.

      The idea that C02 concentrations are some kind of world thermostat is insane. Even if it were the “renewable”, expensive energy agenda make a totally trivial difference even to this concentration. Adapt as needed it might get hotter it might get colder! The climate and the weather does change and always has done.

      • NickC
        Posted January 15, 2020 at 10:49 pm | Permalink

        Lifelogic, Those that claim we’ll all fry if we don’t cut CO2 emissions never explain two things: why they think the global temperature in 1850 is optimal; what the balance mechanism is between CO2 sinks and sources. When they do they might start to say something sensible.

        • hefner
          Posted January 16, 2020 at 10:06 am | Permalink

          NickC: two points:
          – I do not think anybody ever said that the temperature in 1850 was optimal. 1850 is simply the start of long time series of temperature measurements at various locations around the globe.
          – CO2 sinks and sources: from the (satellite-based) temperature sounders (HIRS) and sea surface temperature radiometers (VHRR, AVHRR, …) (since the 1980s) and more recently the Orbiting Carbon Observatory satellites (since the 2010s) there is an increasing knowledge of the global and regional distribution of CO2. Over the last twenty years there has also been a number of CO2 (and other trace gases) flask networks (e.g., NOAA GMCC, Australian CSIRO GASLAB network, Canadian Background Air Pollution Monitoring Network, …).

          So could it be that something sensible might already be known. Simply because you are not aware of these does not mean that these do not exist.

          • Edward2
            Posted January 16, 2020 at 9:37 pm | Permalink

            But what is the correct temperature?

            If the globalist greens have power and their policies get us to a level of global zero carbon dioxide, when will they decide it is cold enough and ask us to increase our CO2 output again?

            1850 is, I’m told, the point at which very accurate global temperature measurements began.

          • hefner
            Posted January 19, 2020 at 8:28 pm | Permalink

            Edward2, what do you mean by correct temperature?
            What do you mean by ‘global zero carbon dioxide’?
            1850 was the date when a limited number of properly instrumented stations started to make measurements considered to be reliable. I do not know where you got that it was the beginning of ‘very accurate global temperature measurements’.
            Have you ever thought about reading material on the history of meteorology? What about clueing yourself up on what is called ‘a meteorological analysis’ of the type used as initial conditions for a weather forecast?
            BTW, it is time-series of such ‘meteorological analyses’ that shows that contrary to your belief there has been a statistically significant trend in temperature (and other parameters) still continuing after 2000.

          • NickC
            Posted January 22, 2020 at 11:38 pm | Permalink

            Hefner, You’re clearly quoting from a source you don’t understand. I asked you for the balance mechanism of CO2 sinks and sources, not CO2 distribution. You haven’t given it. It’s a trick question – no one knows.

        • bill brown
          Posted January 17, 2020 at 12:16 pm | Permalink

          Nick C

          if the majority of the scientists cannot persuade you about the globe getting too hot due to Co2 , how would I be able to do it?

          • Edward2
            Posted January 17, 2020 at 6:32 pm | Permalink

            What is too hot?
            A one degree rise since 1850?

            And no statistically significant increase since 2000 despite alarmist predictions of big increases.

          • hefner
            Posted January 20, 2020 at 10:22 am | Permalink

            Edward2, your comment about ‘one degree rise’ would appear to indicate that statistics might not be your forte. A global mean goes with its accompanying standard deviation. (SD), e.g., you appear to accept that the mean T might have gone from 288K +/- 0.1 K to 289K +/- 0.1K.
            But have you ever considered whether the one degree temperature increase has gone with the same SD (which would already indicate slightly larger variability) or possibly with some parallel increase in SD, say 289K +/- 0.2K.
            According to you, what could be the possible impact of such doubling of the SD, not on a global scale, but on a regional or local scale?
            Some meteorological analyses and climate forecasts seem to indicate that the SD might go from 0.1 to 0.5K.
            Is that alarmist?

    • turboterrier
      Posted January 15, 2020 at 6:21 pm | Permalink

      Ian Wilson

      Totally correct Ian, your thoughts totally confirm we the (UK) have been played for patsies too long. But who is listening?

  51. Martin Spooner
    Posted January 15, 2020 at 4:15 pm | Permalink

    A company I worked for once introduced Priority Based Budgeting. Essentially every Dept had to prioritise their activity, the bottom 10% was axed.

    It worked well. There was an appeals procedure and some depts (such as IT) ended up with bigger budgets because of increased demand but the overall costs went down because of losing unnecessary tasks/expenditure that had grown over time.

    Such an exercise could work well for the Government.

  52. MBJ
    Posted January 15, 2020 at 4:26 pm | Permalink

    There would be a problem then if we stopped over seas aid. I wonder when you say over seas aid is required to be paid : under which terms this requirement was set.
    Building more houses though troubles me in so far as talking in terms of land mass warming which is a significant threat. We don’t need to have done a Masters in science to see climate change . Those who don’t look at the evidence are frankly in denial. If we could only find a way to improve potential migrant’s lot in their own lands or elsewhere in Europe. The hot spots in our globe our apparent and we certainly don’t want to add GB to these.

    • Wil Pretty
      Posted January 15, 2020 at 8:13 pm | Permalink

      Climate Change is not a case of agreeing or disagreeing. It is what it is.
      Mankind has no control over it.
      If our interglacial ended next year and temperatures crashed, Boris would not be able to change it.

  53. acorn
    Posted January 15, 2020 at 6:00 pm | Permalink

    The West needs a paradigm shift to fiat currency economic thinking; abandoning legacy gold standard economic thinking. I would like to see Parliament repeal the “Full Funding” rule and the Debt Management Office turned into the Cash (Units of Account) Management Office. The latter would be the public facing front office of the National Loans Fund. Its job would be to know and publish where all its issued and still outstanding “units of account” (Pounds Sterling) are, and who is holding them where and for what reason.

    There is no operational connection between the government’s ability to spend its own monopoly currency and its issuing of, so called, debt instruments, to cover its spending. Gilt issuance does not fund government spending in a fiat currency economy. They have become risk free savings certificates that give out free money to private sector pension funds and insurance companies. An NS&I Income Bond account could replace all the Gilts and do the same job a lot cheaper. Not that the government has any obligation to pay any interest to users of its own monopoly currency

    • Edward2
      Posted January 16, 2020 at 8:44 am | Permalink

      Is that you Jeremy?

  54. Fred H
    Posted January 15, 2020 at 7:35 pm | Permalink

    Well Sir John, I think you have quite a few realistic subjects, and probably sympathise with many. If you organise a list of say 10 priorities from your constituency/blog research, how will you promote the ideas in time for the PM, Cabinet and Chancellor specifically to actually DO something about them? Success will be welcomed in all parts of the country I suspect (except 2 or 3 contributors I won’t mention). I for one won’t hold my breath.

  55. Norman
    Posted January 15, 2020 at 7:50 pm | Permalink

    MBJ – I respect your concern about climate change, but from the way you speak, any who dispute the evidence are ‘in denial’. No – they see the same evidence and interpret it differently!
    What is really needed is a genuine gathering of evidence, to be analysed and interpreted by the opposing sides of the debate. Currently, group-think emotionalism is sweeping all before it in a most dangerous manner. There are good scientists who do not agree the current interpretations, and they should be given space to develop their case, so that a sound judgement can be made. Sadly, though, I see all the signs of some new totalitarianism gripping the establishment. We’ve seen the same spirit with Brexit and academia – scientists and academics are far from a-political!!

    • margaret
      Posted January 16, 2020 at 5:16 pm | Permalink

      The point is we are warming rapidly and any amount of dithering is not helping .Whilst debates are going on year after year we have a culmination of of possible causes and overwhelming evidence that the warming exists . Surely it makes sense to act upon the many opinions we have and use all our efforts rather than wait until we eventually water log our planet spoil the saline density warming effect and rapidly prematurely go into an ice age.
      See David Attenborough

      • margaret
        Posted January 16, 2020 at 5:44 pm | Permalink

        Simple gardening/ scientific experiment:- put plants next to the house and watch them grow/flourish ( and yes produce more O2) than those a few metres away from the house and you will realise that the extra warmth the house creates causes a microcosmic environment.
        Now from the particular to the general using a little commonsense and extremely basic mathematical skills , multiply this by all the houses and industrial units we have on our land.
        What do you deduce?

  56. John S
    Posted January 16, 2020 at 11:20 am | Permalink

    I would reserve say 0.7% of the overseas aid budget as a contingency fund, to be used for disaster and humanitarian relief only. Any money used in the fund could then be just topped up the following year.
    Efficiencies to be made in the NHS should be made in-house and not be farmed out to an outside consultant, most of whom string the organisation along and charge exorbitant fees. Let these overpaid NHS managers earn their money.

  57. ChrisS
    Posted January 16, 2020 at 8:11 pm | Permalink

    “The new fiscal rules require the government to only spend what it collects in taxes”

    Does this also apply in Scotland ? If not it certainly should !

  • About John Redwood

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

  • John’s Books

  • Email Alerts

    You can sign up to receive John's blog posts by e-mail by entering your e-mail address in the box below.

    Enter your email address:

    Delivered by FeedBurner

    The e-mail service is powered by Google's FeedBurner service. Your information is not shared.

  • Map of Visitors

    Locations of visitors to this page