Every morning I get a raft of government press releases, ministerial boasts of jobs well done, ministerial denunciations of behaviour no longer considered acceptable, ministerial pronouncements of food and drink I may consume.
My eye drifts over them and occasionally lands upon some gem, but mostly they get deleted. This morning one caught my eye.
Communities Secretary John Denham today opened the door to a new era in transparency and innovation by making it easier for taxpayers to scrutinise how billions of pounds of their money has been spent.
“Taxpayers have a right to know how their hard earned money is being spent……
John, I thought, you are so right, and now you come to mention it, I have noticed an increase in the ‘the Minister is pleased to announce a grant of x’ over the past couple of weeks. In fact, I am going to go back and look at the last week’s press releases.
Firefox nearly exploded. There were 134 of them.
Given that we have just had a budget, you might have thought you had heard all the government’s spending plans. Think again. This is just the majopr announcements of the last seven days – and obviously doesn’t include the cost of all the committees that have been set up, the reports published, the (average) £250 a day paid to the worthies that sit on them, or the travel allowances, extraneous expenses and wages of the civil servants. This list is just the comment worthy items from those 134 announcements.
You and I faced with a situation where we were spending 50% more than we were earning might cut back on non-essentials.
How would you prune this list?
Let’s start with the armed forces. They deserve the very best equipemnt, but do they need to be in Afghanistan?
£42 million to upgrade 10 more Lynx helicopters for a war we shouldn’t be fighting.
This is on top of the £50 million already committed.
£40 million to buy smoke grenades and pyrotechnics to stimulate battle conditions.
Then £250 million on a new medical research centre in expensive central London premises.
Oh and another £100 million to Harwell Science and Innovation Campus a world leader – on top of the £97.4 million it has already had.
£2.5 Million to support research scholarships at above.
Then there is a £270 Million Modernisation fund for universities.
And £180 million in funding to turn post offices into banks, as if the tax payers didn’t own enough banks already.
£38.9 million to clean up Blackpool Tower.
£263 million additional funds for ‘affordable homes’.
£165 million to adapt homes for disabled people.
£60 million to run a competition to develop a manufacturing site for the offshore wind farm industry.
£44 million to replace a road bridge on the A34.
£23 million to improve roads in North Kent.
£15 million to fund underused bus services.
£10 million to support an ‘Anaerobic Digestion Demonstration Programme’ – yeah watch it eat shit for free…..
£4.5 million to ‘Planning Aid Today’ – an advice service for residents too poor to consult a solicitor on the £5 green form legal aid tax fund about planning decisions that could affect them……
£2 million to attract burglars to a special ‘trap house’ where it will be more convenient for the police to catch them.
£7.6 million to install smart meters in homes in Glasgow for people to dim to work out that if you turn the light off you will have a smaller electricity bill.
£50 million in grants for the boiler scrappage scheme.
£1 million to groups to promote more ‘active travel’ via walking and cycling following the 2012 Olympics and Paralympics….
£2.9 million to enable the railways to carry out work required by law to make them more accessible to disabled passengers.
£1 million to offer young people not in education, work, training, or otherwise usefully employed the opportunity to have front row seats at the 2012 Olympics and unprecedented access to competitors. Why work for a living, robbing houses gets you better seats.
£175,000 to buy a bronze stature by Degas. The department proudly boasts that last year it spent £11 on similar purchases.
£5 million to develop a marine renewables business park at Hayle in the South West.
£4 million to replace an aging radar system in Norfolk which was stopping a private company building a wind farm at Sheringham.
£¾ Million to to build a test facility for micro wind turbines.
£60 million to develop sites suitable for wind turbine manufacture.
£250,000 to fund organisations devoted to preventing ‘hate crimes’.
That’s, er, and carry 10, and, hang on, take me shoes off, and carry 9….where’s the calculator.
That is one hell of a lot of money they have spent just in the last seven days. Would somebody like to add it up for me?