Once again, yesterday's rail white paper has left me asking - what exactly is this government's policy on climate change, carbon emissions and transport? In order to increase capacity of the railways, commuters will be forced to pay yet more inflation busting ticket price rises. Indeed, this will sort out the capacity problems because it will force people off trains and back in their cars. While the cost of running the railways is expecting to go up from £5bn to £9bn, the government's subsidies are about to go down - from £4.5bn to £3bn. The shortfall will be made up by pass
Another government policy has been exposed for its ineffectiveness and its lack of proper analysis in to the problem before implementation. The Commons public accounts committee has reported that ASBOs are being handed out with little effect on anti-social behaviour in many circumstances. All this while anti-social behaviour not only makes lives a misery for many, it is costing the tax-payer £3.4bn a year. The report states that "Some 10 years after the first anti-social behaviour measures were introduced, no national evaluation of the effectiveness of the different anti-social
The unrelenting attack on the motorist continues and it is TfL that is leading the way. Soon they will be charged £50 for even the briefest of swerves in to cycle lanes - and the cameras are watching be warned. Now given the streets of London were designed and built at time when the largest vehicle on the road was the penny farthing, I am not entirely sure that this insane policy is a fair one. It is being reported that even a motorist who strays in the cycle lane to pass a vehicle turning right will be slapped with a fixed penalty.
Last week's poll asked whether the £20 marriage tax credit that the Tories have been floating as an idea is a pointless money waster, so little as to be an insult to the institution of marriage or a good, effective promotion of marriage. 44% of you felt it was an insult. 31%, rather surprisingly I thought, felt it was a good and effective promotion of marriage. I would have liked to have seen in the comments why you felt this way. 24% felt that the whole thing was a smokescreen and that problems of society have nothing to do with the decline of marriage.
Economists from the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) have slammed the government’s new grant system to be introduced next year to university students. The reforms are aimed at attracting the poorest students to university by handing out grants worth hundreds of millions of pounds a year - something the IFS has described as a waste of time. They claim that taxpayers' money would be better spent on improving the school results of youngsters from poor homes. They also cited universities as coming out of the deal worse off since they would have to give bursaries to more students.
How many times have we been told that the cost of the Olympics will not rise, only for another few billion to be added to estimated costs? As regular readers will know, if you want a financial estimated, do not ever asked a government department to do it for you as they will be wildly out. The latest reports from the National Audit Office suggest that they have got it wrong yet again. We're already at £9.3bn (steadily rising from £3.3bn to start with).
So TfL are going to pile in £750m worth of public money to the tube network to stop it grinding to halt as a result of the collapse of Metronet. Tim O’Toole (MD of LUL) has said he expected the taxpayer to plug any financial gaps left by the Metronet intervention. "This will feed in with the larger discussion with the government about the funding of TfL and transport in London." Indeed it will. So much for pass the risk on to the private sector!
Yesterday bgprior asked, in the comments to my post about scrapping targets, why did this announcement come from Treasury? And well he might, it seems the department it concerns is playing a different tune. Ed Balls (Secretary of State for Children, Schools & Families) has told teachers that national testing and school league tables were here to stay.
Has the government picked two winners in a day, today? Not really - but they may have at least made a u-turn on two losers that, for many, symbolised the Blair era.
In the past few months I have gone on about letting our children take a few risks and if they fall over and crack a bone then all the more for them in terms of growing up. Putting children in cotton wool isn't going to benefit anyone - not least our hopes of Olympic gold in 2012 or our prospects for waging another immoral war somewhere. Well, maybe, just maybe, our councils are listening. The ultra PC world of local government is having to fork out some serious cash at the moment because of cuts and grazes to children in the playground. Amazingly, children injured at English schools
A week or so ago I wrote about how Jack Straw was trying to claim that it is not a lack of planning that we have so few places in our prisons, but rather we are locking up too many criminals (I think he learnt that argument on day one of spin school). On that same day the Ministry of Justice sta
It is clear the readers of PL are a forgiving, trusting bunch. Where else would you find 42% of a community that bought Kennedy's excuse of believing smoking out an open window was alright?! Only 23% of you thought that the Liberal Democrat was smoking on the train as a protest stand for classical liberalism. 35% of you (the less forgiving, probably more shrewd of you!) thought he was lying law breaker. Good on you Charlie – at least he has some character, even if he is the slightly a more serious, Scottish version of Boris.
The Communities and local government select committee, chaired by Labour MP Dr Phyllis Starkey, has rubbished (excuse the pun) the government's strategy for reducing waste in landfill sites. You may remember the plans for fortnightly bin collections and fines for not re-cycling were the solution to the growing landfill problem. Well, Mr Starkey and his committee have damned the policy as "half-hearted and likely to fail". The report says plans to charge householders who fail to recycle £30 a year are too timid and too complicated and a reward of up to £30 for "
Every year we spend £23bn on government project cock ups. That is £900 per household! This cost simply comes from the extra costs added to projects because the government runs over budget - it doesn't take in to account the fact the most of these projects are either completely pointless or should have been commissioned using public money in the first place. Of the 300 schemes that were analysed by The Tax Payers' Alliance, over half were running over budget. Here are some examples:
- The NHS computer upgrade - estimated at £2.3bn, now looking more like £12.4bn!!
- The Olympics - estimated at £2.4bn, now looking more like £9.3bn!
- Sherwood Forest Hospitals project - estimated at £66m, now looking like £326m.
- The Astute Class Submarines - estimated at £2.6bn , now looking like £3.6bn
Amazingly, the report says 14 major public sector projects racked up cost overruns bigger than the Millennium Dome, which went £204 million over budget. Andrew Allum, the chairman of the Taxpayers' Alliance, said "Having had first-hand experience of public sector capital projects, it's clear that the politicians and civil servants in charge lack the management experience and subject knowledge to run them effectively." PL's philosophy exactly. The government has the worst project planners and economists on planet earth, I am sure of that. It's not just the fact that these projects don't get delivered on time and more often than not are not quite what we hoped they'd be, but we are spending so much money - significant amounts - on this incompetence.
So it turns out that the car is more environmentally friendly than the train for a family of three or more. That's one in the eye for enviro-nutters. It is also one in the eye for this government's completely muddled and irrational environmental and transport policies. As for the spiralling cost of rail transport... Which reminds me, I have to catch a South West Train today, nothing could fill me with more dread. And now it turns out I'd better off in the comfort of a car.
Yesterday I reported how the government had spent billions on trying to get kids to do some sport with the incredible result of making absolutely no difference what so ever. Today, it has come to light that another one of the government's attempt to stop our kids turning in to a nation of Bernard Mannings have also failed in spectacular fashion. The Department of Health's initiative to get kids eating more fruit has cost £42m to set up and they have blindly invested a further £77m in the scheme since the launch.
He is officially back. Jack Straw that is. He has come up with an ingenious solution to prison overcrowding problem too. Instead of building our way out of the problem - i.e.
The government has spent an extra £3 billion of investment through the lottery and millions more from the taxpayer in an attempt to tackle obesity and encourage kids to take up sport since 1994. The result? Absolutely nothing. There has not been a change in the number of people participating in sport in the past 14 years despite all this cash. On top of this, of course, the 2012 Games, which are likely to cost £9.3 billion, will do nothing for participation if previous Olympics are anything to go by. The government have literally taken billions and billions of pounds and poured it down
Here's a story that will make you wish you could go private. Take a deep breath.
500 patients a week are given the wrong treatment by the NHS. That is almost 25,000 occasions last year, leading to deaths, serious injury and long-term harm, official figures show.