Since 2018 public expenditure has surged. This year we see government spending nearly £1.1 trillion, up by more than a quarter compared to the 2028-19 level. We need to ask what do we get for all this money? Where does it all go?
Each household this year will pay on average £35,000 in tax to receive on average £38,000 in government activity. The system is very redistributive so the higher earners contribute many times the value of the benefits they receive, and some pay more in total taxes than they get to spend on themselves and their families on everything else.
These huge sums are leading more and more people to question why the level and quality of services is in many cases so disappointing. As an MP running part of the extensive complaints system for government which is an important part of the job I am in receipt of too many justified complaints.
There is the Home Office, unable to process migration claims quickly and fairly to ensure illegals go back whilst those we welcome can soon adjust to their new lives and get a job. There is the failure to stop the people trafficking across the Channel, the failure to prevent protesters blocking main motorways for hours on end and delays in reporting on people’s suitability to undertake jobs with children and vulnerable people.
There is the Probate Office, unable to process the long and complex information they require in a timely way. This leads to difficult delays in sorting out a deceased person’s estate and can be very upsetting for the families involved.
There are the delays in getting a doctors appointment or treatment at a local hospital. During covid managers of the NHS failed to use all the capacity taxpayers were paying for in private hospitals when these extra beds were meant to be there for non covid cases. They closed down wards in state hospitals for fear of cross infection and did not use the Nightingale covid hospitals provided. .
There are delays at the Passport Office, impeding people from travelling owing to unreasonable delays in renewing passports.
There are delays in the granting a wide range of licences that individuals and businesses need. North Sea oil and gas production has been held up by a shortage of licences and delays in granting them.
The Transport Department grants cash to schemes that reduce the capacity of main roads, making like more difficult to get to work, cutting access for emergency services, and making it more difficult for supply trucks to the shops.
In most of these cases Ministers are keen to see improvements in service levels and have agreed large increases in cash to achieve this under the general 27% increase in 3 years in total spending. It is time for public sector managers to raise quality and efficiency across the board.