Saturday, April 01, 2006

A Brace Of Very Plump Turkeys

A brace of very plump turkeys, both too fat to walk, has been wheeled into view this week:

First Turkey: the Rural Payments Agency is responsible for dishing out public money to farmers. Simple enough you might think: just load the cash on the muckspreader and drive round the countryside. But it turns out they've failed to make payments to 93% of English farmers this year: "Critics blamed the crisis on the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs' choice of an over-complicated system for paying farmers and its failure to heed earlier warnings. 99 per cent of farmers have got entitlement statements, but most are "unvalidated", which means the payments cannot be made."

The basic problem seems to be the development of another wildly over-complicated computerised satellite mapping nonsense wossname that doesn't actually work. Meanwhile, other EU countries have just got on with the job, including Scotland and Wales which use far simpler systems.

Margaret "God help us if we get bird flu with her in charge" Beckett, has done the usual thing and fired the Civil Servant in charge. But she's the one responsible for running yet another bloated useless quango that costs us £600m pa net, including £250m pa admin costs.

Second Turkey: the Financial Assistance Scheme, set up to help people who've lost out from failed company pensions schemes is costing 50 times more to run than it's actually paying out in assistance:

'The Scheme has so far given only £100,000 to 32 people. About 15,000 of the worst affected people approaching retirement will be entitled to up to £12,000. But the figures show that FAS payments average only £3,125 a person.

It's so far cost more than £5 million to run, including £135,000 consultants' fees. At that rate, administration will eat up a quarter of the £400 million pledged by ministers to assist victims over the next 20 years.'

As you will recall, Ann Abraham, the Parliamentary Ombudsman, recently ruled that official leaflets had failed to warn workers that occupational pension schemes would be at risk if firms collapsed. The Government responded that it had done "nothing wrong" and insisted payments from the FAS are a recognition of people's pensions plight - not compensation.

In the light of this week's news on MPs pensions, this one absolutely stinks.

Two fat comotose turkeys in a pram...where's my 12 bore?


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