Thursday, January 25, 2007

Walking Away With Our Money

Government disorganisation in action

We blogged the fiasco of the government's anti-child obesity programme when the NAO report on it was published last year (see here). It's a classic case of policy dithering and shambolic organisation, with at least 26 different goverment bodies all sticking a finger into the mechanically recovered meat pie.

The Public Accounts Committee has just published its follow-up report, with its redoubtable chairman Edward Leigh commenting:

"It is lamentable that long after the target was set there is still so much dithering and still so little co-ordination."

Lamentable indeed: we estimated it's cost taxpayers £1bn, and it's achieved SFA (see previous blog).

Yesterday, BOM's engineering design correspondent, IK Brunel, drew our attention to a specific instance of how the waste happens. For once, this one isn't down to fit minister Caroline Flint, but notoriously bearded Schools Minister Jim Knight (see here and here):

"Children who attend primary schools in deprived areas of England are to be given pedometers in an attempt to encourage them to be more active.

The £494,000 scheme will see 45,000 pedometers, which measure the number of steps taken, handed out in 250 schools."

Mr Brunel- who, as well as constructing God's Wonderful Railway and the Great Eastern, has some considerable experience in the pedometer business- tells us:

"Electronic pedometers all get made in Taiwan and never cost more than two or three dollars (and the three-dollar ones will be making the tea and giving soothing massages while they read your horoscope).

If I wanted to, I could almost certainly supply the government with 45000 cheapo electronic pedometers for about 100K dollars.

Even ignoring the irony in giving presents to the lazy using money appropriated from the hardworking, one can't help wondering what the other £450,000 is being spent on?"

We couldn't have put it better.

Another triumph for Britain's Simple Shopper.


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