The ultimate right-wing guide to Outrageous Government Waste!


9:30 am - August 13th 2010

by Chaminda Jayanetti    


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Yesterday Communities Secretary Eric Pickles trumpeted his department’s publication of all supply contracts above £500 as proof of the government’s new transparency. Rightly so.

Given the absence of any clarity though, the press settled for reporting the blatantly flagged expenditure of £1,600 on massages for staff and £539 on an away day at Blackpool pleasure beach.

Any serious analysis of the data is difficult as very little detail is provided on what each contract was actually for. But that didn’t stop the swivel-eyed brigadiers coming out in all their spEak You’re bRanes pomp.

So let’s make this easy for the swivel-eyed Right and just assume whole swathes of spending were all wasteful, regardless of the detail.

Here’s my: Ultimate Right-Wing Nutjobs’ Guide to Outrageous Government Waste:

  • Strategic consultancy – “No idea wot that is but it sounds like crap” – £27,709,553.15
  • PR and marketing – “I don’t even know what that department does. Why is it spending money on advertising?” – £13,554,732.80
  • IT consultancy – “When my computer breaks down I get my son to fix it. I’m sure little Johnny would be happy to do it for the government in return for the odd Mars Bar” – £4,669,922.44
  • Property services/estates consultancy – “I hate estate agents their like Nazis” – £2,844,325.12
  • Events and hospitality – “What kind of events? The Nuremberg Rally? looolll more Nazis” – £1,343,832.10
  • Events organisation – “Cum to think of it I quite like Nazis. Rule Britannia” – £1,268,834.07
  • Finance consultancy – “Paying people to check on money wots the point in that?” – £868,292.28
  • Rail – “Here we go first class trains. Why can’t they just use a car like the rest of us?” – £558,388.85
  • Vehicle hire – “Wot I’m having to pay for them to use a car? ANGRY” – £383,006.67
  • Marketing and comms consultancy – “Jeez more advertising” – £354,053.78
  • Staff childcare – “This is what happens when you hire women they should stay at home and look after their kids the lazy bints” – £332,957.78
  • Staff subscriptions – “Subscribe to what? They can get Nuts online no need to buy it!” – £281,876.98
  • Taxi – “I had one of these civil servants in the back of my cab the other day bloody disgrace them spending all our money on taxis” – £250,526.78
  • Staff medical care – “Bloody parasites spending my money. I’d rather they just died” – £193,108.77
  • HR consultancy – “I mean what is HR anyway?” – £109,851.10
  • Interpretation and translation services – “IMMIGRANTS BLEEEAAAARGGHHH!!!” – £49,369.73
  • Staff health and safety – “IT’S NOT HEALTH, IT’S ELF muppets cant even spell loolll” – £13,850.82
  • Clothing – Ok, so I don’t get that one either – £771.51

All outrageous, diabolical, ZaNuLaBliar waste. Every last penny. And what does it all come to? £54,408,973.99. Out of £314m. That’s under 17.5%. If even half this money is valid expenditure, that leaves us on less than 10%.

But don’t get me wrong – that percentage is a problem. But even if you cut it all, it comes in well below the 25% level of cuts Eric Pickles is preparing to implement.

In fact, the largest single area of expenditure within the Communities Department is ‘Managed/outsourced services’, which cost £55m last year. If that counts as ‘waste’ – and we have no way of knowing whether it does or doesn’t – the Conservatives might want to think twice about their plans to outsource a vast array of public services at national and local level.

And that £54m – in fact, the entire £314m – is utterly dwarfed by some real public spending stinkers:
– Common Agricultural Policy – £3bn.
– Privatised rail subsidies – £820m.
– Service costs on Ministry of Defence PFI deals – £2bn.

Mention these and the government goes strangely quiet.

Pickles can crow about £539 on a trip to the seaside – rather less than his own dubious expenses claims – but only through grand distortion and deception can the sensational headlines justify the savage departmental cuts to come.

In fact, if we can draw one solid conclusion from yesterday’s news, it’s that a huge number and range of private sector companies gain some level of profit from public sector contracts.

The government has done the right thing in publishing this data (sliced by the Guardian here). Just don’t expect it to draw the right conclusions.

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About the author
Chaminda is an occasional contributor. He writes at the A Thousand Cuts blog and Twitter account.
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Story Filed Under: Blog ,Fight the cuts ,Local Government

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Reader comments


Hi!
I totally agree with you on the government ridiculousness and the substance of the article. I abhor the common agricultural policy, and have done since I learnt what it was as an A-level economics student. Since then it has been a personal goal of mine to destroy it!
The transparency improvement is great and some of those claims are frankly outrageous.
But really the sentiment/tone of this article undermines its valuable content!
Is there a version of this without reference to bints/nazis/nuts magazine…. etc?!
Thanks!!
🙂

How is “I’m sick to death of our country handing money out at the drop of a hat.” a bigoted comment?

It’s not…

Shame that a whole bullet-point list of childish comments obscures some valuable points, such as the fact that these potential savings in the DCLG are dwarfed by policies such as the CAP, which deserve far more attention.

The tone of this article is indicative of the voice of the Left at the moment – shrill, immature and serving to undermine its own, often legitimate, cause.

Matthew – completely agree – we are represented by those who cut off their noses to spite their face by over dramatising, and simultaneously undermining some serious problems.

@5, I also agree. This article doesn’t really say anything other than “people who object to government spending are all idiots” based on a few comments on a website. Not a shock; you can find an angry straw man “rightwing” objection to *absolutely anything* on the Internet.

I think it would be more helpful if the article explained what the “Department for Communities and Local Government” actually does, and why it is worth £314m, plus £337m on quangos. If the Department’s staff (including the quangos) went on strike indefinitely, who would notice? I mean, really: if you could only save one Department from “cuts”, it wouldn’t be CLG, would it?

Oh, and the reference to Nazis? Amazing. Luckily “the Right” can laugh at itself, but this is pushing it, and is a depressing example of the author’s own, profundly offensive prejudices being exposed in a failed attempt at humour.


Events and hospitality – “What kind of events? The Nuremberg Rally? looolll more Nazis” – £1,343,832.10
Events organisation – “Cum to think of it I quite like Nazis. Rule Britannia” – £1,268,834.07

Well, if the government wants to cut things associated with the Nazis, why are you complaining 😉 ? Seems reasonable to me.

On a more serious note, the question is not what we shouldn’t cut, but what we can afford if we are to reduce the rather large national debt? If you don’t believe this is necessary, you should probably state why to support your argument. Not set up satires of reasons to cut various bits of spending.

The standout figure is surely the £28 million spent on strategic consultancy.Of course there might be the odd occasion when they need an external eye – but twenty-eight million quid is taking the piss.

I’ve never quite understood why though the Left hate bankers and stockbrokers, they can’t let anyone from Bain, McKinsey or Accenture walk by without bunging him (or her) a seven figure sum of public dosh.

If true, it’s certainly impressive to know that the Ministry of Defence has 85,000 civil servants compared to an army of 100,000 soldiers:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2010/aug/13/liam-fox-ministry-of-defence

I’m reminded of the Iraq invasion in March 2003 when British troops were sent out there without the essential equipment to protect against the use of WMD, supposedly the very reason why Iraq was invaded without UN sanction.

Btw “[Brown] said the Iraq war had cost Britain £8bn and the total cost to the UK of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan had been £18bn, on top of what he repeatedly stressed was an increasing defence budget.”
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/8552593.stm

11. Trainspotter

Chaminda

I do not understand why you are so anti rail and bus subsidies, here and on your own blog. These subsidies ensure an absolutely fundamental and necessary service for people who need to travel, especially the not very well off.

Also, these subsidies are hardly new. National Rail subsidies were £3.7 billion in 2003, £8.5 billion in the mid 70s and £800 million as long ago as 1955 (all in 2004 prices). Historically, they were higher than now.

Also, it would be a disaster for most people living on challenging estates is all ‘unprofitable’ bus routes were cancelled. Particularly where social housing is on the periphery, this would cut poorer families links with the town centre completely, leaving families imprisoned in their homes. Also some of the money you consider a ‘stinker’ goes on providing free travel to those who members of vulnerable groups.

But then, I don’t get what you are saying about CAP either really. I thought the Tories hated that. And PFI.

Beyond doubt, subsidies for public transport will be reduced:

“Rail passengers, bus users and motorists have been warned that Britain’s transport system will suffer ‘unwelcome consequences’ from public spending cuts of up to 40%, according to the Liberal Democrat transport minister, Norman Baker.

“The Department for Transport has been asked to find cuts of between 25% and 40% to its £15.9bn budget before the autumn spending review, with the main candidates for the chop including the £5bn spent on the rail industry, followed by another £5bn a year for Transport for London and Crossrail, while environmental groups are calling for reductions in the £6bn road building programme.”
http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2010/jul/12/transport-public-sector-cuts

13. astateofdenmark

9

”I’ve never quite understood why though the Left hate bankers and stockbrokers, they can’t let anyone from Bain, McKinsey or Accenture walk by without bunging him (or her) a seven figure sum of public dosh.”

This was a new labour thing, managerialism for the sake of it. Whether it dies or not is another matter, politicians love having ‘their’ consultants running around doing…something. Civil servants find it to be a useful delaying tactic. Many of the consultants are themselves party hacks.

This is the £539 Blackpool Awayday session referred to http://www.metro.co.uk/news/726747-defence-ministers-seaside-grilling

It was a Ministerial (Bob Ainsworth) meet-the-public Q&A session on Afghanistan organised by the Government Office of the NW rather than a civil service jolly.

How much are Cameron’s ‘meet the public’ sessions costing? I’m sure it’s rather more than £550.

Sevillista,

I’m sure the Secretary of State for Defence meeting the public on the Afghanistan war was a useful activity. But I am slightly mystified as to why such spending was coming from the local government budget, since neither Afghanistan nor Bob Ainsworth’s views thereon had anything to do with this area. Shouldn’t this have been part of the Defence budget?

The actual articles says “He will field queries on the economy, education, housing, health and climate change.” Interesting, but why the local government budget? Housing is in this area, but the rest is in other departments.

Also, why was a politician being paid for to go and answer questions on a variety of subjects outside his own ministerial brief in what could only be a political event – his answers would push the government line – in a town with two marginal seats? Is this normal, and would we accept say Liam Fox doing the same thing?

16. Sevillista

@watchman

One of the functions of the (soon to be abolished – hence the examples of “waste” being given) Government Offices was to provide logistical support for central government events in the regions.

The Government Offices are also not local government- they are the representatives of central government in the regions, with more local knowledge than Whitehall civil servants to support more localist public service delivery and avoid distant London-based bureaucrats making ill-informed decisions.

Anyway, the point is that the press release said this was a ‘civil service awayday’ i.e. a jolly for feather-bedded bureaucrats at an amusement park. Patently untrue -how much waste is there if the Government are forced to lie to ‘demonstrate’ only £539 of waste?

Moronic Brown shirt troll “Luckily “the Right” can laugh at itself, but this is pushing it,”

No ,the right can’t laugh at itself , because it is not funny. Right wing moronic brownshirt fucks are never funny. Fart jokes, and laughing at brown people is about their level.

Oh, and the reference to Nazis? Amazing. Luckily “the Right” can laugh at itself, but this is pushing it

In other words you can’t laugh at yourselves.

This is a half-satirical article… please do read it in that spirit

@Sally

Haha. I take it back, the Left is funny after all.

Sunny – yeh, fair enough. If you find labelling your opponents Nazis because they disgree with you, I suppose it’s pretty funny. Top quality contributors on Liberal Conspiracy!

21. Chaise Guevara

To be fair to the OP, this sort of thing – “Strategic consultancy – “No idea wot that is but it sounds like crap”” – is pretty apt. There seems to be a general impression on both sides of the fence that any department or initiative with a word like ‘consultancy’ in the title must by definition be a silly waste of money, whereas it might in fact be a vital service with a slightly pompous name.

In other words you can’t laugh at yourselves.

Oi, please don’t tar us all with the same brush. I told a funny knock-knock joke a couple of years ago after all…

Actually this assumption that political alignment = sense of humour is riduculous. Political alignment may equal finding some similiar things funny due to shared outlook, but in terms of general humour it is probably spread around the population in a pattern that bears no relationship to political views or anything much else.

“This is a half-satirical article… please do read it in that spirit”

Hardly Swiftian is it? Whichever side of the fence you’re on re the cuts/waste etc this article tries to turn the whole thing into playground nonsense.

Still, bang on there with CAP and the creative accounting that was involved in so many PFI schemes, (it is possible to have PFI schemes that are advantageous to both sides but with the “simple shopper” in charge its not going to happen very often).

24. Chaise Guevara

“Actually this assumption that political alignment = sense of humour is riduculous. Political alignment may equal finding some similiar things funny due to shared outlook, but in terms of general humour it is probably spread around the population in a pattern that bears no relationship to political views or anything much else.”

In my experience, liberals are more likely to mock liberalism that conversatives are to mock conservatism – but then I tend to hang around with fellow liberals, so that’s hardly surprising. I’ve certainly never noticed that either the left or the right are more inclined to tell self-deprecating jokes.

I’ve certainly never noticed that either the left or the right are more inclined to tell self-deprecating jokes.

Anyone unable to tell self-deprecating jokes should be automatically excluded from power. Which would admittedly end up with William Hague and Erik Pickles as the only Conservative ministers still active, but that would still be easy for them considering how empty the Labour front bench would probably be…

Too many people take their ideology too seriously – if you can’t see the joke, then you may be blind to other important things such as valid criticism or the best way forward.

im still waiting for something funny to be said.

If you find labelling your opponents Nazis because they disgree with you

I see you still don’t get the point of satire. It’s meant to be parodying right-wingers calling lefties Nazis… why do I even have to explain this to you? You can read and write, right? I know it doesn’t translate very well over the web but you sound really lame here.

How can you tell the difference between a satire of shit writing, and plain old shit writing?

And couldn’t one write the latter and just pretend it was the former when called out?

Serious post: Since when did anyone think Pickles was anything but disingenuous and smug? Why do we suddenly take him seriously?


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