Sunday, January 14, 2007

Recent Bonfires 48

And always remember to keep breathing
In the news this week:

£2.5m on hand washing lessons- "Now, pay close attention. There are apparently 10 stages involved in washing your hands — so you need your wits about you. To help you with the timing, officials have suggested that you may want to sing Happy Birthday To You, twice in a row... In the same week Britain decided to resume space exploration, the Scottish Executive has just decided to spend £2.5 million on telling people how to wash their hands. A total of 14 health boards are to be given funding to employ a "hand washing co-ordinator", on a salary of £50,000, to promote the campaign. And a helpful website has been set up —" (Telegraph 13.1.07)

£290m pa wasted on R&D tax credits- "Half of the £580m cost of Gordon Brown's research and development (R&D) tax credit is wasted because firms are claiming the cash for research they were already planning to carry out, the Treasury has admitted. But survey results revealed under the Freedom of Information Act show, in the Treasury's words, that only 'half of respondents whose company had made a successful claim for the R&D tax credits said that it had had some impact on either their R&D spend or R&D projects.' The survey finding suggested that at least 50 per cent of the cost of the high-profile scheme was what economists call a 'deadweight loss', because it was paying for research that would have taken place anyway." (Observer 14.1.07)

£3m double payment for government air travel- "British taxpayers are to give £250,000 to a food factory in Thailand so that it can bury its rotting vegetables. The deal is part of a £3m government scheme to balance the carbon emissions created by Civil Service and ministerial air travel... The Government has estimated that it will be responsible for 300,000 tons of carbon dioxide over the next three years, and according to methodology used by Climate Care, the leading carbon offsetting company, this means that British ministers and civil servants are expected to fly more than 600 million miles every year... The Government spent £6.1 million on ministerial travel overseas in 2005/06, a third of which is attributed to Mr Blair and which is a 20 per cent increase year-on-year. Defra alone lavished £4.5 million on trips abroad for its employees, a 25 per cent increase on the previous year. In 2005, the Department for International Development spent £900,000 on air travel within the UK alone and a further £8.3 million on flights abroad. Many of the civil servants travelled business or first class." (Sunday Telegraph 14.1.07)

£243,000 golden handshake for NHS boss- "An NHS Trust that was £5 million in deficit paid off a former director with a £243,000 golden handshake. Iheadi Onwukwe, 41, was given the payoff when he left his post as director of public health at Eastbourne Downs Primary Care Trust after what is believed to have been a dispute with a senior colleague... after the dispute Dr Onwukwe was effectively paid to do nothing before he was finally paid off. The trust is carrying out a cost-cutting review that could lead to services at Eastbourne District General Hospital and Conquest Hospital in Hastings being downgraded." (Times 13.1.07)

£80,000 for axed quango head- "The former head of the Rural Payments Agency was paid more than £80,000 after he was removed from office last year, rural affairs minister Barry Gardiner revealed. Johnston McNeill continued being paid for more than eight months after his removal. He was effectively suspended on full pay and cost taxpayers £81,410.55 from the time he was axed on March 16 until December 1." (Guardian 12.1.07)

Total for week- £295,823,000

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