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Thursday, 23 October 2014

Who foots the expenses bill?

WHATEVER happened to that quaint old concept of public accountability?

Louise Allonby
Louise Allonby

Hot on the heels of the MPs’ expenses scandal, where we poor saps out in the real world found ourselves footing the bill for duck houses (if you’ll pardon the pun) and moat clearing, we now learn that local councils have been going mad with their credit cards.

And who’s been picking up the tab? Corr-ect. While the rest of us tighten our belts and do without life’s little luxuries in these times of economic hardship, local government officials and councillors have been splurging our cash on first-class travel, exotic trips to places like Singapore and dinners at Claridge’s.

According to an investigation by the Daily Telegraph, councils up and down the country have spent over £100 million – of OUR money – on credit cards. Cornwall heads the table, having spent nearly £9 million since 2008. Just thinking about the monthly repayments is enough to bring me out in a cold sweat.

I very much hope that our own councils haven’t been up to such profligacy. Certainly, Barrow’s crop of councillors doesn’t strike me as the sort to be seen hobnobbing in Claridge’s or high-tailing it to Singapore. But who can say? Unfortunately, I can find neither Barrow Borough Council nor South Lakeland on the Openly Local website, which lists the financial details of all councils “with opened up data”. Hmm.

This largesse with other people’s money would be depressing if it weren’t so predictable. The trouble is, as the public sector has grown out of all proportion, too many of those working in it forget who is paying all the bills. They also seem to have forgotten that we taxpayers expect a bit of value for money.

But once settled in their cushy jobs, a lot of public servants, even the most incompetent, seem impossible to get shut of.

Take Gordon Brown, in my opinion arguably the worst Prime Minister of modern times. Although, come to think of it, forget the “arguably” bit. He virtually had to be prised out of Number 10 with a shoehorn.

Rubbish at your job in the real world? Here’s your P45. Rubbish at your job in the public sector? Promotion (or, at worst, a sideways shift) and a nice fat index-linked pension at the end of it. And if you’re really bad, we’ll throw in a few lecture tours.

At the higher levels of the public sector, the more power and pay people receive, the more reluctant they are to give it all up without a fight – even when they have behaved appallingly.

The case of Sharon Shoesmith, who presided over the Baby P tragedy, is the most recent and disgraceful example of this. Instead of admitting responsibility and accepting her sacking, she has won her appeal against dismissal, saying she “doesn’t do blame”. And now we learn she is in line for a possible £1 million compensation – which will be funded by you and me.

If that doesn’t sum up the shameful loss of accountability in our glorious public sector, then I’d very much like to know what does.

Have your say

Dont worry Ron,this steve,and barrow lad have not got a clue,rambling on about socialists and the left wing as if they knew what they were talking about.Really puts in to perspective doesnt it when they see Brown as a left winger.

Posted by ram on 14 June 2011 at 09:59

Not fair to put all the blame on Gordon Brown for the Credit Crunch, Money Meltdown, Financial Fallout or whatever you want to call them. It did not really matter who was in office at the time, it was the greedy bankers, financiers and moneylenders in the US who started all these way back in 2006. The collapse in the house price triggered the quake that's still felt today. Prior to that, money was being lent to whoever wanted it, whether they're credit-worthy or not; everyone was encouraged to have Credit Cards from all banks; absolutely ridiculous it was! It was just a matter of time before the UK economy was hit too and the effect was felt worldwide. The constant carping and blaming of Brown is just anther ploy to brainwash people into believing Gordon caused it all by himself. Cameron is most vociferous in blaming Brown and not the City Bankers, because he has many friends in the Banking and finance business who are bank-rolling the Conservatives with millions of dosh every year. Looks like he's doing double somersaults already in most of his policies; wet behind the ears he is, and so are his Liberal partners. Gordon Brown is creditted with being the best Chancellor Of The Exchecquer we ever had, and it's true. Get over it !!

Posted by Matt on 13 June 2011 at 12:59

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