Sunday, February 18, 2007

Recent Bonfires 52

Worth £20m of anyone's money
In the news this last fortnight:

£12m unwanted debt quango- "The Debt Arrangement Scheme (DAS), which helps people rearrange their debts so they can pay them off, was launched in 2004 as a flagship Executive policy to tackle Scots' spiralling debt. Since then, it has ploughed close to £12 million into setting up the service and supporting advisers whose job it is to deliver it. Yet in that time, the advisers have helped only 202 Scots with a total of only £3.2 million of debt... An insolvency practitioner, who preferred not to be named, said: "The DAS is a total waste of money." (Scotsman 10.2.07, htp HJ)

£25m reward for failure- "The Child Support Agency, which is to be wound up by the government for poor performance, has paid out £25m in staff bonuses over the last five years, John Hutton, the works and pensions secretary, has revealed to MPs. Altogether 92,000 staff benefited, with nearly £4m going to nearly 11,000 in the last year. The agency has a backlog of 238,000 child support cases with £3.5bn of debt uncollected." (Guardian 10.2.07)

£20m industrial white elephant- "SCOTLAND'S most notorious industrial white elephant is to be demolished - just 10 years after it opened with the promise of creating 3000 jobs. More than £20million of public money was invested into the ill-fated Chunghwa picture tube plant in Mossend, Lanarkshire. But the firm closed in 2002 with the loss of 600 jobs and the building has lain empty ever since. Chunghwa was opened by the Queen and then First Minister Donald Dewar in a blaze of publicity in October 1997." (Sunday Mail 18.2.07)

£250m on top mandarins' pensions- "The top 300 civil servants have taxpayer-funded pensions worth a quarter of a billion pounds, new figures show. Just 20 senior current or former mandarins have index-linked retirement entitlements totalling more than £35 million... Sir Andrew Turnbull, the former Cabinet Secretary who retired in 2005, topped the list with a notional pension pot worth £2.62 million... the top 300 civil servants have an average pension entitlement of £826,970. That could give a pension of more than £55,000 a year." (Telegraph 16.2.07)

£30m smoking police- "AN army of anti-smoking “police” is being trained to root out anyone who lights up illegally when public cigarette bans come in. Councils are spending £30MILLION on thousands of snoopers who will patrol bars, restaurants and shops. They will slap £50 on-the-spot fines on people caught having an illicit puff. And they will be barking “Put that out!” orders — echoing Dad’s Army air raid warden Hodges, who famously wanted lights off in the classic TV comedy... In Scotland, where a smoking ban started last March, 11 full-time snoopers, costing £20,000 each, issued NO fines in the first 10 months. (Sun 16.2.07)

Total for fortnight- £337m

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