Sunday, September 24, 2006

Recent Bonfires- 33

In the news this week:

£2,000 on Council "thinking caps"- "AN initiative to inspire managers by getting them to wear baseball "thinking caps" has been ridiculed by staff at a local council. The headgear was handed out to senior Isle of Wight council workers as part of a £2,000 move to help them come up with cash-saving ideas. Emblazoned with "Thinking Cap", they are urged to put them on at brainstorming sessions. But staff say wearers look like "bloody idiots". Councillors blasted the handouts: "At a time of cutbacks, spending nearly £2,000 on things thrown quickly in the bin is a bit rash. I've not seen anyone wearing a cap." One councillor even mocked the initiative by turning up to a meeting wearing a Fez with "Independent Thinking" on it." (Mirror 23.9.06)

Quangos cost hits £123.8bn pa- "Taxpayers' money spent annually on quangos and other public bodies has soared by 50 per cent, to £123.8 billion, in only two years. And at least 20 officials who sit on quangos have received pay rises of 20 per cent or more over the past year. When in opposition, Tony Blair pledged to consign the "quango state" to the "dustbin of history". However, the directory shows that 299 of the 882 quangos and other public bodies were set up under New Labour. Nearly 30 have been created over the past year. New quangos launched under Labour include the Music and Dance Scheme Advisory Group, the Public Diplomacy Board and the Disruptive Passengers Working Group." (Sunday Telegraph 24.9.06)

£11m blown on yet another IT flop- "The government has pulled the plug on a flagship housing IT project that has been given millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money over the last two years. Private company Scout Solutions Projects has received nearly £11 million to develop the Move UK service to allow families to access information about housing, education and jobs around the country through an internet site. Councils had been growing increasingly concerned about the contract after serious drops in the level of service... Chris Goodrich, housing specialist at the Society of IT Managers, said the the department's review was like ‘shutting the stable door after a herd of horses has gone through it... Serious questions have to be asked about whether the tax payer has had value for money out of this’. (Inside Housing 22.9.06)

"Life coaches" cost £340,000 plus- "At least £340,000 of taxpayers' money has been spent on 'life coaches' for struggling civil servants, official figures reveal. In 'cash for quacks', it emerged that three Government departments have spent huge sums on 'mentoring' classes to help staff deal with the pressures of office. One of the firms employed uses concert piano recitals and cookery classes to 'stimulate thinking'. The Treasury paid £29,326... The Cabinet Office confirmed it had paid £50,348.75 to psychologists to help with 'succession planning... psychometrics, psychological profiling, personality profiling... culture audit, stress audit and coaching'. (Evening Standard 20.9.06)

Total for week- £123,811,342,000 (plus)

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