Public sector inflation

The point I am making today is the trading public sector has got a lot dearer over the years. Ministers from governments of all complexions do not seem to exercise much control over costs and productivity of public bodies.

I looked at  the 1960 Guidebook to Dover Castle that my family  had bought on some long past visit. My computer tells me the Bank of England and successive governments have so devalued our currency that modern prices are 21.5 times higher than they were in 1960 on average. The Ministry of Works government Guidebook gave me some insight into public service inflation since then.

Dover Castle remains owned by the state with its visitor activities run by the charity English Heritage, an evolution from the Ministry of Works. The book says an adult visitor in 1960 would have paid 5p to see the Keep , lighthouse and ramparts, and another 1.25p to go into the tunnels. To do the same today the adult visitor buying a ticket at the site would pay £23.60. That is 377 times the cost in 1960, many times the rate of general inflation.

It is true there are now additional tunnels to see as in 1960 the Second World War tunnels were still out of bounds to visitors. The presentation of the Keep has changed, The collection of medieval armour and weapons adorning part of the interior has been replaced with modern soft furnishings and a  bit of wooden furniture with designs taken from contemporary illuminated manuscripts. Whilst as the old Guidebook notes the interiors and their windows had been changed over the centuries the current aim is to present it in its Henry II version as best judged.

The Guidebook itself has experienced a bit less inflation. The old one is considerably smaller with one  colour photo  and more smaller black and white photos. It cost 10 p compared to £5.50 for its modern and bigger counterpart. That is inflation of 55 times or nearly treble  the general inflation rate. There was plenty of good reading material in the 1960 version but the colour photos and art work are much better in the modern one.



  1. Mark B
    February 12, 2024

    Good morning.

    The reason for this is constant government borrowing and the need to reduce that borrowing by devaluing the currency by printing more and more money.

    Inflation is a form of tax as not only does it reduce the spending power of you pound in your pocket, as a former PM my say, but increases that tax take via VAT and other duties by making the cost of everything much, much higher.

    Inflation is a bad governments dirty little secret used by all parties to pick our pockets without us really noticing. The rich can offset the costs of inflation through the purchase of gold, more stable foreign currencies, and stocks and shares. Property is also another and one cannot help but notices more and more people are being forced out of this to the benefit to those that can afford properties and then rent them back out.

    The late Mrs.T knew the evils of inflation and the stupidity of subsidies. But as I have said before, we seem to be turning back to the 70’s for our solutions, which those of us can remember, do not work.

    1. Ian wragg
      February 12, 2024

      In 1968 I bought a new 2 bedroom bungalow with garage for £3k it sold recently for £180k. 60 times what I paid and due to the open borders policy no doubt it will continue to rise.
      Last week during the snow when demand reached 46gw, we were Importing 17% of our power and using the remaining coal stations on full power
      Wind was providing 1.8gw. Madness.

      1. glen cullen
        February 12, 2024

        Agree – Utter madness

    2. Ralph Corderoy
      February 12, 2024

      Good morning, Mark B.

      Yes, governments use monetary inflation in the age of fiat money. It is a perk of fiat. They also seek to deceive with official figures for price inflation. There is CPI’s continual adjustment of what’s in the basket and the weightings between groups. But also improvements in production and technology give cheaper processes and products. So the price of goods deflates over time given sound money. Measured price inflation assumes a good’s price being unchanged is 0% price inflation but price inflation has parried the price deflation and goes unmeasured.

  2. Lifelogic
    February 12, 2024

    Indeed if you have several children these visitor attractions state, national trust and private can be totally unaffordable for very many children.

    One of the very few sensible suggestions by this government was the plan to have MOTs only every two years but they have even backtracked on that simple cost of living saving. Guy Opperman, the roads minister, said the Government had “listened to drivers and industry”. What driver want these extra costs? Many low mileage drivers might drive only a couple of thousand miles between MoTs.

    1. agricola
      February 12, 2024


      Every two years works in Spain up to a cars 10th birthday, then it’s every year. Testing in government centres is reasonably bullet proof too.

    2. Donna
      February 12, 2024

      Most modern cars don’t need testing after 3 years. My Hyundai was guaranteed by the manufacturer for 5 years so it would be sensible to switch the starting date for an MOT for new vehicles to 5 years. It could be backdated so that those already purchased would be exempt until they are five years old.

      To catch vehicles which have been involved in an accident and as a consequence may be unsafe, a requirement could be placed on the Insurance Companies to inform their customers who make a claim that unless their vehicle undergoes a safety check they will be reported to the MOT Authority and their insurance will be withdrawn.

      1. formula57
        February 12, 2024

        @ Donna “Most modern cars don’t need testing after 3 years” – although many (6 to 18 per cent., depending on model) fail their first MOT test, frequently to do with conditions of tyres and brakes.

  3. David Andrews
    February 12, 2024

    Your example confirms that the UK state provides rubbish value for money. So why do the political class keep legislating for it to gobble up more and more of the nation’s wealth and income?

    1. Donna
      February 12, 2024

      The cost of visiting Dover Castle: 2 adults and up to 3 children = £54.50.

      Pah! They’re not even trying.

      If you want to really be milked by the “trading public sector” you need to go to Portsmouth Historic Dockyard. There a family of 2 adults and up to 3 children will be charged £135 to see all the attractions.

      The fact is, living in the UK has become unaffordable for anyone who is on average or below income. A family attempting to survive on 2 x minimum wage jobs is effectively barred from visiting our national historic/heritage sites ….. and a great deal else, like buying a home.

      But hey ….. let’s import another 1 million low-skilled, low-wage immigrants a year ….. to force wages down even further and make the housing situation even worse.

      1. Berkshire Alan
        February 13, 2024


  4. DOM
    February 12, 2024

    Public sector failure is always rewarded by bigger budgets. We know the scam. Deliberately cause failure, create chaos, conceal the complicity of public sector managers in the scam, demand bigger budgets using threats and laying blame at the doorstep of others, usually Tory ministers who capitulate to prevent damaging media headlines

    Utterly depressing when one can see parasitic entities using threats and blame to line their own pockets. This will never change and will bankrupt the nation

    Tory leaders quite simply don’t want the war with the woke, racist public sector monster

    1. Lifelogic
      February 12, 2024

      Indeed Minister role is to ensure incentives in the state sector reward delivering services of value and vaue for money to the public. They nearly aways fail in this – rarely do they even try.

  5. Sakara Gold
    February 12, 2024

    This week there are going to be two more by-elections. The party appears to have given up campaigning to keep these seats; the whips have not asked senior Tories or cabinet members to visit either Wellingborough or Kingswood in support of the Conservative candidates.

    The polling looks dire for the Conservatives. Labour seeks to overturn an 18,500 majority in Wellingborough, while in Kingswood the seat has had a Conservative majority since 2010. Kingswood’s MP Chris Skidmore resigned in protest at Sunak’s insane oil and gas licence plan; tactical voting by Lib Dems will almost certainly hand the constituency to Labour. One can expect the Greens to do well

    Peter Bone, the disgraced Conservative ex MP, won Wellingborough with 32,277 votes in 2019. Here, Reform voters will hand the constituency to Labour. Unless Nick the Flying Brick (Monster Raving Loony) candidate achieves a late swing

    Clearly, Sunak has given up on the Conservative voters in these two traditionally Tory consituencies. If he’s not prepared to fight, what hope will the party have in January 2025? If the Tories lose these two constituencies, he should resign

    1. Lifelogic
      February 13, 2024

      Sunak and the tories have indeed given up, nothing to be lost by ditching this tax to death, pusher of climate alarmism and out of touch politician with his 180 degree out broken compass. Sunak even keep telling us he is going to continue cutting taxes but to “continue” you must first start. Cannot be any worse after all.

      The best one can say about Sunak’s ConSocialists is they are not quite as bad as Starmer’s Labour.

      Granting licences for gas and oil the more the better. Far better to extract our own rather than import them keeps the jobs here & saves CO2 should that, quite wrongly, bother you.

      The climate alarmist deluded dope Chris Skidmore (a history graduate) resigned as doubtless he knew he would lose anyway. He is either deluded, infected with the CO2 devil gas religion or perhaps on the make from the crony green crap industries or perhaps a bit of all three. Resigning before the coming election was an appalling thing to do. Wasting public money for nothing.

  6. agricola
    February 12, 2024

    Dover Castle has no doubt suffered what everyone else has suffered.
    Devalued currency due to it not having any measurable base yardstick, gold.
    Money printing, quantative easing, call it what you will, at government behest to devalue the pound in your pocket.
    Excessive government borrowing to chase finite goods that increases their price or inflation.
    An over inflated public sector that in many areas is rewarded beyond its value.
    Dover castle is a business, unusual for the public sector. It should be judged on the basis of bodies through the door, or supply and demand. If they are stable or increasing it is providing something the public wants at a price. If they are decreasing it has a faulty business plan. Perhaps you can tell us. Most of the inputs like energy costs of running the castle and customers getting there are outside their control. HMG are responsible for such.
    Why not do a similar comparison for the rail journey Birmingham to London starting at 08.00 hrs in the morning, 1960 and today 2024 assuming they are not on strike.

  7. Roy Grainger
    February 12, 2024

    English Heritage are charging what the market will bear. Can’t see the problem. It is nothing to do with cost control or poor productivity, it’s just them trying to maximise their profit from Dover Castle so they can fund the various maintenance, restoration and other projects they are involved in at Dover Castle and elsewhere. The alternative is that taxpayers like me with no interest in Dover Castle should fund those projects.

  8. Berkshire Alan
    February 12, 2024

    Indeed, inflation is also the enemy of savings as few people gain anything over the years as savings interest rates are always below inflation percentages, and income on savings/investments are taxed as well !.
    But few aware of even very simple mathematics now, as real life type mathematical problems/solutions do not appear to be taught in schools any more.
    Knowledge of Interest rates, APR, Compound interest, and the ability to do mental arithmetic seem to be a lost art nowadays, yet so important for life skills, which may save a fortune if you make the right choices.
    Meanwhile we have the application of diversity and WOKE thoughts drilled into young brains.

  9. Mickey Taking
    February 12, 2024

    Welcome to ‘Rip-Off Britain’.
    The example neatly shows the descent into ‘steal the discretionary spending’ left for the family.
    Some Museums are all we have left free.

  10. Berkshire Alan
    February 12, 2024


    Please do not go back to the 1960’s, so many happy memories of that era.
    Life was so much more simple and less complicated, and I thoroughly enjoyed myself, even on apprenticeship wages at the time.
    The UK was a very, very different place then, compared to now. ¡

    1. Berkshire Alan
      February 13, 2024

      My first wage as an apprentice in 1964 was £3.02 a week, yes for a 40 hour week.!
      All College fees, training, books, and examination fees were paid for by the Company.
      A gallon of 2 stoke for my scooter was £0.24 pence
      Above is the decimal equivalent to the old £ s d

  11. acorn
    February 12, 2024

    £1 in 1960 is £19.18 today. Average inflation of 4.8% per year. In the US it is 3.8%, Germany 2’7%.

    1. formula57
      February 12, 2024

      @ acorn – the pricing calculations may contain some margin.

      Allowing that “..modern prices are 21.5 times higher than they were in 1960..” then:

      “in 1960 would have paid 5p to see the Keep , lighthouse and ramparts, and another 1.25p to go into the tunnels” gives a total (before guide book) of £1.30 then and an expected price now with that inflation multiplier of (£1.30 x 21.5) = £27.95.

      Yet “To do the same today the adult visitor buying a ticket at the site would pay £23.60” – so apparently less than with the full inflation effect? And I have not been able to reperform the calculation that gives the “.. 377 times the cost in 1960” – with just the 1960 £0.05 for the non-tunnels to today’s full admission of £23.60 is a multiple of 472 times. I am not sure what I have not taken into account.

      1. formula57
        February 12, 2024

        AArgh – my post above is badly wrong – not £1.25 in 1960 as I read but 1.25 pence as you wrote Sir John.

        So £0.0625 then and an expected price now with that inflation multiplier of (£0.0625x 21.5) = £1.34375

        And consequently price now of £23.60 divided by price in 1960 of £0.0625 = 377.6 times greater, as stated.

        (Sir John, apologies and I trust this will not have any effect on my being considered for the post of Spad, should you need any.)

        1. Mickey Taking
          February 12, 2024

          rest easy, mistakes get pased by, its in nobody’s interest to throw light on them when in Government.

    2. Lifelogic
      February 13, 2024

      Switzerland? ~ 2%? Inflation is yet another government tax.

  12. Bloke
    February 12, 2024

    The 1960 Guidebook printing alone involved picking up each lead-cast letter of every word with tweezers to lock in place as part of a long laborious process. The black & white photos involved bathing metal plates in acid to etch them. In those days, colour photos each took 4 copper plates and 3 weeks work.

    Technology has advanced much since. Today a child could compose a lavish brochure in minutes just clicking a mouse.
    Despite such advances prices have inflated beyond control, outstripping national values. In contrast, British outlook and quality standards suffer from being deflated.

    1. Mickey Taking
      February 12, 2024

      Make some wages comparisons for us?
      A main line train driver earns around average £60k, more with overtime.
      What was that job paying in 1960?
      An MP Salary and Office expenses claimable?

      1. Bloke
        February 13, 2024

        People tend to be paid what buyers accept they are worth at the time.
        Taxpayers fork out based on what government wastefully decides.

  13. A-tracy
    February 12, 2024

    Did Dover Castle used to get public subsidy at a higher level?

    I would imagine that their staffing and energy costs are tremendously more expensive. Actually it would be interesting to compare those costs from 1960 to 2024.

  14. Ian Jacobs
    February 12, 2024

    Can you define what ” the trading public sector ” means ? ie what are you including and excluding.

    English Heritage is a Charity – not part of what I would regard as public sector at all.

    Using your definition- what %’age of Government expenditure and income for ‘ the trading sector ”
    represent – compared to the budgets and expenditure on the major sectors of what are traditionally regarded as public sector? eg education, health, military,police,etc etc

    Reply Its buildings still belong to the state

    1. Mitchel
      February 13, 2024

      I think that is what in Roman Law would be called a usufructuary.

  15. Tony+Hart
    February 12, 2024

    Just how can HMG monitor and control public sector spending? Public bodies funds are there to be spent; there is no incentive to cut down unnecessary work. This is happening all the time. I remember being governor at two neighbourly schools; one spent twice as much on the admin unit as the other.

    I have no answer, because it is competition that keeps costs down in the private sector. How on earth could we introduce competition in the public sector???

  16. Bert+Young
    February 12, 2024

    The early 60s were full of promise ; it was for this reason I returned from 10 years abroad to start a new career . Look at the mess today ! ; was it all worth it ?.

  17. glen cullen
    February 12, 2024

    I read this post on Guido Fawkes site …seems apt
    ‘’ As a lifelong Tory I shall stick to my beliefs and still vote Conservative by voting Reform UK….proper Conservatives’’

    1. JoolsB
      February 13, 2024

      Same here. The real Conservatives are called Reform U.K. and the two socialist parties are called Conservative and Labour.

  18. Ian B
    February 12, 2024

    “Ministers from governments of all complexions do not seem to exercise much control over costs and productivity of public bodies.” Bizarre when everything is considered, an ever increasing tax take, ever increasing borrowing on our behalf, but the basics controlling expenditure a bit like ‘common sense’ has been programmed out. Massive giveaways with no return

    It is no wonder we have a new generation coming on stream where everything material is seen as an entitlement and for that the Government must steel from others to award their needs. People have started to imitate Governments.

    No one need earn. Just as Government doesn’t see the need to create wealth to pay for their prolific expenditure. Their expenditure doesn’t relate to the Countries earning, what it can afford, is seen as their entitlement to do.

  19. formula57
    February 12, 2024

    Another day, another example of how we are attacked by the government and public sector.

    (Sympathy due to the Dover Castle chief who hitherto perhaps hoped it a job safe from much public scrutiny?)

  20. Mickey Taking
    February 12, 2024

    Schools are spending tens of thousands of pounds more a year to meet rising costs of contracts with private firms. These Private Finance Initiative (PFI) schools are locked into 25- to 30-year contracts in which charges rise more than at other schools. One school said it was spending thousands of pounds a year to keep its playing-field grass below 2.5cm (1in), as the “rigid” contract demanded. PFI investors say the contracts give long-term value for taxpayers’ money.
    Middlefield Primary in Speke, Liverpool, opened after the local authority entered a PFI agreement for new school buildings. Head teacher David Potter says nearly 20% of the school’s entire budget is now spent on meeting the terms of the PFI contract – squeezing what he can spend on classroom staff. The school has to pay the PFI company for its day-to-day maintenance, catering and cleaning, which will cost more than £470,000 ($600,000) this year – a rise of more than £151,000 since 2021.
    And what Mr Potter says is one of many “rigid” details stipulates the grass must not grow higher than 2.5cm, even in the winter when the playing field is hardly used.
    The PFI company said the contract could be renegotiated to allow the grass to grow higher, but Liverpool City Council said the legal costs would outweigh the benefits.
    More than 900 schools in England were built through PFI contracts, before the initiative was scrapped, in 2018.
    Launched by a Conservative government in the 1990s and used by both Labour and Conservative leaders to build schools and hospitals, the scheme sees private companies retain ownership and responsibility for maintenance until the debt is repaid from taxpayers’ money.
    Speaking on behalf of PFI investors, Lord John Hutton said price comparisons were made regularly, but school budgets had not kept up with inflation over the lifetime of PFI contracts. He said the contracts “do reflect good value for money for the taxpayer” and “make sure that schools are getting value for money when it comes to cleaning, catering and everything else”.

    Reply When I was advised to finance a Welsh hospital by PFI I turned it down and insisted on direct government borrowing and ownership.

    1. Mickey Taking
      February 12, 2024

      This is nationally shameful and should be read and reflected on by the Government and Civil Servants. When are politicians going to correct mistakes they make along the way?

    2. Mickey Taking
      February 13, 2024

      reply to reply …well done Sir John. Lots of buildings/service packages were obtained via PFI – and they are probably all in various stages of being unsuccessful / unsatisfactory / expensive.

    3. Berkshire Alan
      February 13, 2024

      I wonder who decides what maintenance is needed on these PFI buildings, from what I see they’re poorly constructed and poorly maintained, the building will have virtually no repairs completed near the end of the contract, and so in effect will become a money pit for whoever is left to own it.
      Guarantee the Building has a design life of about 30 years, perhaps the length of the PFI contract.
      Says it all really.
      Simply built for yesterdays headlines, let someone else worry about the legacy.

  21. Mickey Taking
    February 12, 2024

    I will have to renew my passport within months.
    Online cost 82.50, Paper application 93, Fast Track 128.
    Breathtaking cost for what?

  22. henry curteis
    February 12, 2024

    The published rates of inflation are the problem.
    There was no inflation to talk of before 1914 when a shilling was a day’s pay and a £ a month’s pay as they had been since time immemorial, being precious metal – silver in fact. A pound was 16 ounces of silver, which was roughly 1 oz of gold in 1914, when our currency still to be called Sterling for some reason, detached from any link to precious metal. The Pound Sterling became a defunct promise to swap paper for metal.
    A month’s pay now in London would be more like £3,000 than £1, making the true rate of inflation for 110 year about 7.5% per annum with money halving in value every ten years for over a century.
    1960 to 2020 would suggest money halving in value six times, and losing a quarter of its value from 2020 to 2025. which would be approximately £100 needed in 2025 for £1 in 1960.
    1960 £1
    1970 £2
    1980 £4
    1990 £8
    2000 £16
    2010 £32
    2020 £64
    2025 £100

    The US dollar was a day’s pay – another day, another dollar – also a silver coin – same roughly as the English shilling. The US currency remained attached to precious metal until 1972, and the dollar became closer in value to the £ than the shilling. England has been shafted.
    Now the false Bank Of England promise ‘ to pay the bearer on demand in silver pounds in weight for his paper pounds’ will be disappearing completely and all money will not be real but conditional.
    VAT must be removed from silver, and CGT so that real money that was stolen from us is given back to us, and we can hold silver or pay in silver and not be beholden to controllers of digital systems. Silver always was the only real money and is still to this day. This is the proposed policy of The English Democrats.

    1. Mitchel
      February 13, 2024

      It was Pepin the Short(first Carolingian king of the Franks-and father of Charlemagne)who devised the post Roman European monetary system with his reforms of 751 AD,creating the novo-denarius(‘new penny’):240 pennies were minted from one Carolingian pound,by weight, of silver,with 12 pennies to the shilling,the latter being the equivalent of the Byzantine gold solidus which was the basis of the international monetary system(such as it was) for half a millenium.

      Around the same time the Arab Caliphate which had just consumed both the Persian empire in it’s entirety and also the Byzantine provinces of Syria and Egypt fused their monetary systems(based on the Persian silver drachm and Byzantine gold solidus respectively) by fixing the rate of exchange between the two and minting their own gold solidus-equivalent.

  23. glen cullen
    February 12, 2024

    10 mins into the GB New peoples forum with our Prime Minister …..and I’m already bored to death

Comments are closed.