.comment-link {margin-left:.6em;}

Wednesday, March 02, 2016

Blunders, turf wars and the cost to the taxpayer

At the Hay Festival last year I acquired a tome by Anthony King and Ivor Crewe that seemed designed for a political anorak like me. The shame is of course that 'The Blunders of our Government' does not have a much wider audience for, in its lucid and instructive rendering of the story of many government cock-ups such as the Millenium Dome, the poll tax, tax credits and individual learning accounts, it offers lessons both to politicians and civil servants as well as a guide to the voting public of what really goes on in Whitehall.

I understand that a second volume is being written, in which case it is possible that King and Crewe may include an account of this fiasco, as recounted by the Telegraph.

The paper refers to a Parliamentary Committee report which found that a “childish turf war” between senior civil servants saw them refuse to work together in a way that may cost taxpayers over £180 million:

Senior bosses in three Government departments claimed they could not get on because they “dressed differently” and “worked on different floors”, costing millions in EU fines.

The powerful Public Accounts Committee found highly paid managers were part of an "appalling Whitehall fiasco" which led to British farmers receiving late payments because a Government IT scheme ran 40% over budget.

The delays led to substantial fines, levied by the EU, adding up to hundreds of millions of pounds in wasted taxpayer cash.

As a result, thousands of farmers were paid their subsidies late and pushed into debt because the Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs, the Rural Payments Agency and the Government Digital Service could not work together.

The paper adds that the new IT scheme was designed to reduce the delays brought about by the old scheme which left farmers waiting months for subsidies handed out under the EU Common Agriculture Policy.

It was scheduled to cost £155million but has already gone 40% over budget to £215million because of "dysfunctional and inappropriate behaviour" between senior officials whilst 30% of farmers who receive payments under the scheme have not yet been paid.

For anybody who has read the King and Crewe book this will be a familiar story. Is Government really incapable of learning from its own mistakes.
Comments: Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?