Thursday, February 14, 2008
By any normal standards it beggars belief: following the classic schoolboy geography howler the hopeless Department for Communities and Local Government has given a £2.7m grant intended for Newcastle on Tyne to Newcastle-under-Lyme instead. The two being a mere 186 miles apart.
What are the lessons?
First, all local councils in the South that have been systematically starved of government money to fund Labour's fiefdoms, should rename themselves soonest. If Kingston-upon-Thames became Kingston-Upon-Hull, it would definitely get its snout into the Prescott family trough (the two names are so close it probably already happens). And Guildford could become Gateshead- there's no way DCLG's finance gremlins would then be able to distinguish it from our friends up North.
Second, this underlines just what a shambles the regional aid bureaucracy is. We've blogged at length on Regional Money Spaghetti, pointing out the system's mind-boggling complexity. This case underlines just how dysfunctional it is, and you can bet it's not the only such cock-up. The system has no common sense over-rides and is operated by people of such low grade they make mistakes like this.
Third, this is yet another example of how poorly government looks after our money. We've blogged this many times (and see the ITBA vid here)- throughout government, the actual handling of money is mostly in the hands of quite junior staff (even temps) operating in a twilight world well below decks, and well away from the senior officers on the bridge. If the accounting and control systems were secure that might not matter, but of course they're not. Billions go astray every year (cf tax credits and DWP).
Maybe DCLG's geographically challenged payments clerks should be issued with satnav.
Better still, the whole multi-billion mess of regional money spaghetti - Regional Development Agencies and all - should be scooped up and chucked in the wheelie bin.