Tuesday, December 02, 2008

How to waste £12 billion in the blink of an eye

IT’S THOSE weasel words again folks: “Lessons must be learned.”

This time around the “lessons that must be learned” surround the appalling case of the 56-year-old man from Sheffield who has been jailed for life (aka 19 years) after raping his two daughters over a period of many years. The attacks resulted in 19 pregnancies and nine surviving children, some of who are severely disabled or terminally ill due to the genetic complications. It really does beggar belief.

And by whom must those “lessons be learned”? Why, it’s the usual suspects – the same agencies who must bear the blame and the guilt over the death of Baby P.

Let’s think about this again, however painful it might be. We are told that the attacks began when the children were pre-pubescent, so presumably continued throughout their schooldays. Did no-one at those schools notice anything out of the ordinary? Why not?

Then there were the doctors and the hospital staff who must have come into contact with the girls during their 19 pregnancies. Did no-one think to raise an eyebrow over the repeated miscarriages and stillbirths, or the children born with debilitating conditions? Was that all considered coincidence?

Were the police sniffing around at any stage? And we have to assume that at some point social services got involved – and if they weren’t at any stage, that’s almost as big a scandal than if they were.

We are told that the father avoided suspicion falling upon his family by moving around small rural villages in Lincolnshire and South Yorkshire, and that information that might have alerted the authorities wasn’t shared across county boundaries. Shades of Soham, anyone? And surely your medical records follow you where ever you go?

But never mind. I’m sure “lessons will be learned”.

SO HOW do you waste £12 billion in the blink of an eye? Simple - reduce VAT by 2.5 per cent in the ridiculous belief that it might kick-start the economy.

I’ve never heard of anything so daft. The big stores are already offering 20 per cent and 40 per cent discounts in pre-Christmas sales. Why does the government seem to think that another 2.5 per cent, which might or might not get passed on, is going to make any difference to people’s shopping habits?

When did you last hear someone say: “Ooh, that’s a nice bottle of wine, but it’s a bit expensive at £6.99. If only it was £6.81 I’d snap it up. Probably buy two.”

And then there’s the cost to those stores who do pass on the saving having to re-programme their computers or keep the staff up all night banging away with a price gun, estimated at £20 million.

In fact, the only part of the economy that will benefit from this is the signwriters, who will have to go around the country changing the name of Poundshops to 97.5PenceShops

It’s not all bad news. As the BBC reported this week, 25 JobCentres have been saved from closure and another 6,000 staff are being taken on to deal with the massed ranks of the soon-to-be unemployed. So that’s all right then.

BUT THAT’S no real surprise, is it? The ranks of the Turkey Army have been boosted to such an extent that there are now 5.8 million public sector workers, each enjoying a generous final salary, index-linked pension scheme with a retirement age of 60 or even lower. Mind you, they don’t seem too happy about their gold-plated jobs, spending more than 100 times as many days on strike as private sector workers and being 25 per cent more likely to go on the sick.

There are now estimated to be over 800 people working in local government who earn more than £100,000 a year and the gravy train shows no sign of stopping. The Centre for Economic and Business research is predicting that as redundancy rates rise rapidly in the private sector, the state is going to hire another 50,000 people over the next year.

Clamber on board while you can, folks. And don’t worry about the fare – the rest of us will pay.

I SEE that the Cake Police have been in action again. A hospital in Cumbria has banned the local League of Friends from baking cakes to raise money for equipment the NHS cannot afford, as they have been for years.

A man called Alan Davidson, who holds the magnificent Turkey Army title of Director of Estates and Facilities, insists that the home-made sponge cakes and tea loaves contravene Food Standards Agency guidelines and therefore cannot be sold on hospital premises. He drones on, in the tones of Blakey from On The Buses: “All food should be packaged appropriately, date-stamped and ingredients listed. This is in the interest of maintaining and protecting the health of the public.”

As ever, when you dig a bit deeper on these things, all is not what it seems. The Food Standards Agency, in an astonishing attack of common sense, responds: “There is nothing in our guidelines that prevents the sale of home-made cakes at fund-raising events.” Crumbs.

So it turns out, as so often in these cases, that it isn’t the legislation that’s at fault but the hi-visibility jacket-wearing numptie who chooses to interpret that legislation in a manner that justifies his own existence. And job, salary and pension.

Pass that bottle of £6.81 wine. In fact, pass two.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

According to http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/this-britain/number-of-workers-hits-record-high-402109.html, in the middle of last year there were 29.1 million wage slaves out there. If 5.8 million of them are in the turkey army, then almost 20% of the country works for the government. Surely that's untenable?

10:23 AM  
Anonymous Craig said...

Well wrote Baz. Totally agree with your points. Food for thought though, I reckon that 5.8 Million could be significantly higher. I have worked in many parts of the public sector as an IT contractor and I am not alone. In some teams contractors make up as much as 50% of the team. I doubt these will be included in the 5.8M. Then you have to consider teaching and nursing, both of which heavily depend on temps and contractors. 9M would be my guesstimate. And before anyone responds with the 'fact' that contractors and temps are only for days and weeks then they are wrong. Times have changed and now contractors can work in a role for several years. They can not be taken on full time due to some politics that a 'job' does not exist due to staffing levels decided years ago. Finally lets not forget that contractors earn more than their permanent colleagues. In my experience it is usually half as much again. So if I am right and we have 3.2M people earning half as much again as the 5.8M we know about, then financially speaking, are we not employing the equivalent of 10.6M people to run Blighty??

10:53 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I must protest. Cutting taxes is not 'Wasting Public Money'. Levying taxes in the first place is wasting public money.

12:24 PM  
Blogger cartermagna said...

Bazza, I have a cracking little bit of Turkey Army manoeuvring for you. Lifestyle coaches to help people give up smoking, drinking and findus. Made my blood boil...


2:59 AM  
Anonymous Observer said...

The Sunday Times carried a piece showing the top ten towns where the workforce are mainly employed by the state. Two of them are in my area - Castle Morpeth and Wansbeck - where the proportion is around...wait for it...50%. Yes, that's half the working population signed up for the Turkey Army. Admittedly Northumberland County Hall accounts for many of them but if this goes on then all of us will end up working for the state. Hmmm. I can see the makings of a Brownite scheme here.

6:49 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My dear Sir,

Your figure of £12million to adjust all the labelling, tills and computers, as well as a dual tax return on the next quarter is grossly understanded. It is in fact £330million that was spend to make this adjustment..

Also last months "rescue package" has costed each and every tax payer in the UK £17000....money that will have to be paid back in the future.

Also smacking heavy tax increases on the rich will only cause them to leave the UK for tax havens and move their businesses elsewhere - taking jobs with them.

Its all boobed up really and badly thought out but your comments are true and accurate.

As for the man in Sheffield how come this didnt make the press or did i miss this...... is he related to some Austrian bloke by any chance.

What an oddly run nation this has become....

10:57 AM  
Blogger charles.courtney said...

Just a small point on your Wine price calculation: The VAT reduction of 2.5% is actually less than a 2.5% reduction in retail prices. It is 2.5/117.5 ie 2.13%
Therefore your £6.99 bottle of wine would not drop to £6.81 but would be (£6.99/1.175) X 1.15 = £6.84

9:22 AM  
Anonymous mr popodopolous said...

A little off topic perhaps, however:

I remember a Barry Beezlebub or however it's spelt in the Bristol Evening Post...

Indeed, your style seems somewhat familiar.

11:22 AM  
Anonymous Old Scrotum said...

'And surely your medical records follow you where ever you go?'

Wrong! I think you'll find that they are usually tipped onto a convenient roundabout (SW England) or sent directly to a landfill site (rest of UK).

4:11 PM  

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