Campaigners claim that public debt is rising by almost £4,000 a second, while £120bn of taxpayers’ money is being wasted every year. Launching its War on Waste roadshow, the TaxPayers’ Alliance (TPA) said “every tick of the clock” was equivalent to putting £3,965 on the nation’s credit card. From tomorrow until Sunday, July 13, the TPA’s staff will join local activists to call on public sector officials to strip out waste from pay, pensions and inefficient spending as they tour across England and Wales. The TPA will claim that local authorities have wasted money by imposing high council tax and diverting resources away from frontline services through pet projects. Among the stops on the roadshow will be the constituency offices of leaders of the three main parties, and the Grey’s Monument in Newcastle, Exchange Square in Manchester and Birmingham Town Hall. During the tour the campaigners will highlight examples of waste, such as the £4,450 spent by Nottingham City Council on an office Christmas tree, or an art gallery in West Bromwich that cost £72m but had to be closed because of a lack of visitors.
The Times yesterday, Page: 23
I have picked up on this not necessarily for the detail of the Times article but because of the headline. I am one of those politicians who is convinced that if public spending is not brought under tighter control it will be the ruin of the lot of us. Whilst at face value there is now a broad consensus to restrain what Government and other public bodies spend, as we get nearer to the General election I am sure the political parties will start to trumpet areas where they want to spend more in an attempt to garner votes. This could be the start of the road to ruin (again) except of course if it is more money for the likes of the NHS and social care which I think we all want to see.
Elections can be dangerous for the economy because of politicians trying to outbid each other. Even the Scottish Independence vote later this year is ramping up spending pledges from the SNP in particular but with others tagging along too. Of course, some parties make spending pledges and then decide having made them they can’t afford to be implemented. The economy may well then be saved from further spending but the pledge that folks voted on is seen to have been misleading. Tuition fees comes to mind as probably the the most obvious one of recent times and it hangs around poor old Nick Clegg’s neck like a millstone.
In my book if you make a pledge you carry it out. Yes, other things may have to go as a consequence but a pledge is a pledge. I do hope the political classes have learned from this as there will be other examples.
But the bottom line (an apt phrase in this context) is the issue here. Economies have to balance their books; we can’t go back to the New Labour days of spending money like water whilst not raising enough in taxes to balance those books. It did ruin us and it will ruin us again if we don’t wake up and smell the coffee. In politics lessons are often not always learned and mistakes often repeat themselves!
With thanks to the LGiU for the lead to this story.