The UK government loves to claim that they aren’t wasting your money. However, the facts prove that this isn’t true. In fact, they are wasting your money on everything from stupid computer blunders to choosing to sell gold at the wrong time. These decisions have wasted £billions. With the general election about to happen, it’s important that we take a look at how the government spends our money and demand better choices in the future.
Take a look at these 20 examples of how the UK government has wasted your money:
- £26bn Wasted on Computer Blunders. In January it was reported that The Independent had investigated Labour’s 10 most well-known IT mistakes and found that these mistakes cost taxpayers over £26bn in wasted funds. The biggest waste was a £12.7bn plan for the NHS to start using new electronic records. Fewer than 200 out of 9,000 health organizations are using the technology despite the fact that the money was spent on it. Delayed, canceled and faulty computer plans throughout the government continue to waste your money to this day.
- £76bn Wasted on Trident Nuclear Missile System. Back in 2006, the government managed to sell the idea of the Trident Nuclear Missile System by citing a cost of less than £25bn. However, this cost didn’t take into consideration the long-term costs of maintaining the equipment once it was in place. The real cost for this program ended up at more than three times the initial projections. The real problem here was that the government forged ahead with the plan without actually allowing a debate to take place that might have allowed for conversation that would have resulted in a smarter spending decision.
- £18bn Wasted on ID Cards that You Don’t Even Want. In 2005, the government wanted to institute a biometric passport system that would require people to get new IDs and would also require new ID equipment to be purchased. The government estimated the cost of the IDs to be approximately £93 per person and the cost of the equipment to be about £5.8bn in total. The true costs turned out to be about 3 times that at £300 per person and between £12bn and £18bn for the equipment. Last year the government upgradedthe passport system in a £265 million contract with IBM
- £5bn Wasted by Bad Gold Sale. The government’s blunders haven’t just been committed recently. If we look back to the period of time between 1992-2002 we can see that the government at that time managed to waste £5 bn simply by choosing to sell its gold at the wrong time. The treasury sold gold from the UK gold reserves at a time when the price was fairly low. The price climbed steadily after that but it was too late since the gold was already gone. You would think simple financial deals like this would be par for the course with the government but it’s clearly something that they can do wrong.
- £17bn Wasted on Unnecessary High Speed Rail Link. Admittedly £17bn isn’t a lot of money to spend on advanced transportation like a high speed rail. However, it’s a big waste when the whole thing is going to only end up saving commuters about 20 minutes on the trip between Birmingham and London. Add in the fact that low-cost spending on existing rail lines would be much more cost-effective and the fact that the new proposed high speed rail might do some serious damage to the local countryside and you’ve got to start wondering why the government wants to spend so much money on this project!
- £50m Wasted on Assets Recovery Agency. Here’s some bad math for you … Back in 2007, the government set up an agency to recover assets from criminal thieves. During its operation, the agency was able to recover approximately £8mn worth of assets. However, the cost to operate the agency during that time was £60mn. In other words, you paid a fortune in taxes to set up an agency that couldn’t even break even by doing its job.
- £57m Wasted on Benefits for Dead People. In 2006 alone the government managed to make the appalling mistake of paying out £57m in benefits to people who weren’t actually alive to receive those benefits. The problem in nearly all of these cases was that the payments were set up to pay out automatically and the person died after the payment was already processed to be sent. The majority of the payments were made to pensioners who passed away but a significant amount was payment for income support to people who died while they were being supported. Did you even know that your income was going to pay the income of dead people?
- £2.6bn Wasted on Benefit Fraud and Errors. If you thought it was bad that so much money was being wasted giving benefits to dead people then you might be even more upset to find out that about five times more than that was wasted on benefits that went to people who didn’t deserve them. Also in 2006 there was £2.6bn spent on benefits that were either fraudulent or were miscalculated due to simple errors. That’s a lot of waste happening for pretty much no reason at all. Do you think that they’ve learned their lesson since then? No, in fact, they’ve gotten worse. The Tax Payers Alliance reports that the most recent benefits waste due to fraud and errors was about £3.2bn.
- £2.5m Wasted on Translators Paid to Do Nothing. Two women were paid £25,000 each per year for 15 years to basically do nothing. They had translating jobs that were given to freelancers but they were never reassigned to new work and essentially just collected a paycheck for showing up. You would think this would be something to be happy about but instead they complained about the fact that the government forgot about them. Long story short there was a lawsuit with claims of race discrimination and the end result was a waste of £2.5mn in salaries and legal fees for these ladies.
- £600,000 Wasted on Lost Phones. What would you do if you lost your mobile phone? You would probably call your carrier and cancel your service so that you wouldn’t be charged if someone picked up the phone and used it right? The government apparently doesn’t have that kind of common sense, though. Back in 2003 the government sent 10 phones to Iraq but never confirmed where they ended up. A year and a half later they realized that two of the phones had been stolen and were used to rack up £600,000 in phone bills. Yes, it was your money that paid that bill.
- £800m Wasted to Help People “Feel European”. There is an EU programme in place that is designed to help people aged 13-30 “feel more European”. This is done through events and classes that teach things like traidtional folk dancing and basket weaving. Hidden in the £800mn expense is a portion of money that is used by the children of government officials for the purpose of sending them on ski trips. In a time when the global economy is shaky at best, how can an expense like this be justified to taxpayers?
- £1bn Wasted on Perk Credit Cards. Last year UK government officials managed to spend £1bn on their government procurement credit cards. Sure, some of this spending might have been for things that were actually needed. However it’s been shown that a lot of that spending was on frivolous stuff like super-expensive lunches. The average person knows that spending on credit cards should always be a last resort. And the problem is particularly bad since there are so many people in the public sector who expect to be laid off because the government supposedly can’t afford to keep them on.
- £240m Wasted on Fire Control Centres. In another infamous example of bad spending projections, the government said back in 2004 that they needed £72mn to set up a network of fire control centres that would increase safety in the area. The main purpose was to get the area truly safe for the 2012 Olympics. However, the centres are not complete and may not be up and running before the Olympics happen. Plus the cost has now more than tripled to a projected £240mn. This includes a massive £40,000 day spent PER DAY on headquarters that are being rented but sit empty.
- £3m Wasted on Legal Aid to Criminal Politicians. Three Labour politicians have recently been accused of stealing £60,000. That’s not good. But what’s even less good is the fact that they aren’t hiring their own lawyers but instead are getting legal aid. It is expected that the total cost to taxpayers for their ongoing legal fees could be as much as £3mn.
- £4m Wasted on Untested Alternative Medicine. The NHS has been wasting your money by giving out alternative medicine that is controversial. Many people are saying that the £4mn spent recently on homeopathic cures was essentially like spending that much money on candy for patients since it did them about as much good as the candy might have. The case for this spending has supporters on both sides but it’s definitely questionable in a time when prudent spending would be smartest.
- Millions of Pounds Wasted on Motorcycle Test Centres. A new Europe-wide motorcycle exam is required now. However it’s only in the UK that the government deemed it necessary to open 66 new testing centres for the exam. The old testing centers for other vehicles could have been used or upgraded at a much smaller cost to taxpayers. It’s not clear at this time how much money was wasted on the project but it’s apparently in the millions of pounds.
- £2.4m Wasted on Website When a Free Alternative Could Have Been Used. The UK government spent £2.4mn to build a website that offers cycling route information to people in the area. This is a great idea for a website but it wasn’t necessary to spend that much money. That’s because there’s already a website with this information which is far more accurate and comprehensive than the government website. The government could have simply linked to this existing website instead of spending your money to build their own inadequate version.
- £650m Per Year Wasted Because of Refusal to Recycle. It isn’t just the people who care about the Earth who want the UK government to start doing more recycling. It’s also the people who care about where their money goes. One report indicates that the government is wasting £650mn per year on dumping and incinerating trash that could be recycled at a much lower cost.
- £2.4m Wasted on Police PR. The police apparently want to look good in the media and the cost is coming straight out of your bank account. A recent report shows that 4 West Midlands police officers managed to waste £2.4m on media relations, a 75% increase in spending for their normal budget. They say it’s worth it because the press releases help to catch criminals but whether or not that is true is a bit questionable
- £50bn Wasted Per Year Because the Government Won’t Cut Back Where it Can. Finally, research from the Tax Payers Alliance shows that the government is currently wasting approximately £50bn per year on things that they could cut back on but just don’t bother. Expenses include spending £6.5bn per year on the Department of Trade and Industry which seems to do little if nothing in its government role, spending £1.7bn too much per year on sick calls by public sector workers and spending £1.7bn per year on failed Ministry of Defence projects.