Sunday, February 24, 2008

Recent Bonfires- 88

Don't don't cry little girl- we're not going to hurt you

It's been a while since we updated Recent Bonfires, so here are some recent snippets:

£50,000 to ask five year olds how to govern- "A Government-funded scheme is canvassing the thoughts of children under five and even babies about how council services can be improved. Staff say they are quizzing the youngsters to see how playtime can be spiced up and the transition from nursery to reception school made easier. The three-year drive to set up the Young Children's Voice Networks is being funded by the Department for Children, Schools and Families. The scheme, which currently receives about £50,000 a year but is likely to have its funding increased in the future, is run by one project manager who travels round the UK helping councils to set up the networks. (MoS 24.2.08)

£23m bonuses for HMRC bunglers- "Bungling managers at HM Revenue and Customs will be picking up £23 million in bonus handouts for their overall “good performance"... Matthew Elliott, chief executive of the TaxPayers’ Alliance campaign group, was horrified at the bonus payments to thousands of HM Revenue and Customs staff. He said: “It is shocking that the taxpayer is footing the bill for these rewards for failure. HMRC severely let down the public, and they should be punished for it, not patted on the back. Public services will never improve unless we have proper accountability, and that means bonuses must be conditional on performance." (Kent News 23.2.08)

£181m for Bloody Sunday enquiry- "The cost of the Saville inquiry into the Bloody Sunday shootings has hit £181 million, the Government said yesterday. The inquiry chaired by Lord Saville was set up in 1998. It is the longest and costliest inquiry in British legal history and there is still no sign that Lord Saville's final report is to be released in the near future." (Telegraph 21.2.08- HTP Edward M)

£6m for Diana circus- "Mr Fayed claimed the Duke of Edinburgh was a "Nazi racist" and that the Prince of Wales had conspired with his "Dracula" family to murder his former wife in Paris in August 1997 so that he could marry "crocodile" Camilla Parker Bowles, now the Duchess of Cornwall. Mr Fayed appealed to the "ordinary people" of the jury to stand against the "murderous forces" of the British Establishment. The inquest is expected to cost taxpayers up to £6 million and there were claims last week that it had descended into a circus." (S Telegraph 24.2.08)

Speaker Martin helps himself to another £75 grand- "Michael Martin faced further allegations over his expenses last night as it emerged he had claimed £75,000 in taxpayer-funded payments to help run his £400,000 home in Glasgow. Mr Martin followed the example of many MPs in claiming the Additional Costs Allowance (ACA). Most use the money to meet mortgage payments. However, the Commons Speaker owns the detached, four-bedroom villa outright and does not have a mortgage on it. " (S Telegraph 24.2.07)

Euro MP claims £36 grand pa double expenses- "A BRITISH Euro-MP is receiving thousands of pounds in EU expenses for an office already paid for by the UK taxpayer. Baroness Emma Nicholson, a Liberal Democrat MEP for London, qualifies for almost £3,000 a month from the EU’s “general expenditure allowance”, which the EU Parliament says is primarily to cover the cost of running an office in the UK.But as a working peer Lady Nicholson is already entitled to a free office in the House of Lords, which she also uses as the base for her MEP activities in Britain." (S Express 24.2.08)

Dept of Health spends £200,000 pa on bottled water- "The Department of Health has been accused of wasting taxpayers' money over its failure to have a clear policy to encourage its staff to drink tap water. A new report published today by the food and farming charity Sustain says the department is wasting almost £200,000 every year on bottled water. This could have paid for 14 baby incubators, 34 hip replacements or 244 cataract operations, it claims." (Guardian 18.2.08)

Police translators now cost at least £24m pa- "Police forces spent £2,700 an hour last year on translation services so they could better communicate with suspects and witnesses, it emerged yesterday. The figures were obtained by the Conservatives, who sent a Freedom of Information request to all 43 forces in England and Wales. Thirty-seven replied, revealing a total bill of £24.1 million for translation in 2006/07, up 64 per cent from £14.6 million in 2004... Gwent was the only force able to provide a language-by-language breakdown. In the past year it spent almost £6,900 on Vietnamese translators, £6,850 on Arabic and £4,350 on Urdu. It also had to call in experts in other languages such as Lithuanian, Moldovan and Slovak. (Telegraph 22.2.08)

Another €1056m on EU spending fiddles (let alone VAT fraud)- "MEPs yesterday voted to adopt an “own initiative” report on the fight against fraud. The report detailed irregularities across the EU, pointing out that the amount affected by irregularities rose by seven per cent from €328m in 2005 to €353m in 2006... Meanwhile, abuse of structural funds increased, with €703m affected in 2006, up 17 per cent. Of 95 projects audited over the period, 60 were affected by “material errors in declared project expenditure".... However, they almost pale into insignificance when set against the amount lost to VAT fraud. The MEPs’ report expressed extreme concern over the financial losses to carousel fraud - a crime typically associated with small, easily moveable electronic items such as chips and phones... estimated losses were up to £4.75bn for 2005/06 for the UK alone. They backed the contention that "the current mechanism for intra-Community VAT transactions is not sustainable". (Channel Register 20.2.08 HTP John B)

Total- £1,026,361,000


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