Weekly Waste Watch- 72

Council Tax supremos in Disneyland

In the news these last two holiday weeks-

Council Tax supremos spend £4.9m on junkets- "Council tax inspectors have travelled 200,000 miles to 12 countries as they explore ways to raise bills at home. Officially, they were on fact-finding missions looking at methods of recalculating bills, such as "spy-in-the-sky" surveillance technology and Big Brother-style computer databases. But staff from the Valuation Office Agency have been accused of squandering millions on their junkets, which included stays in five-star hotels, banquets and a visit to a Disneyland theme park. One bureaucrat even mocked taxpayers at a dinner. The Agency made 412 flights to countries including the U.S, Australia, Malaysia and Thailand between March 2006 and April this year. It spent £4.9million on travel and subsistence. " (Mail 28.8.07)

Micky Mouse degrees cost £40m pa- "Taxpayers are shelling out more than £40 million a year to subsidise "Mickey Mouse" degree courses such as equestrian psychology and baking technology. A rise in the number of school-leavers going to university in recent years has fuelled a huge increase in courses of "dubious academic merit", said the TaxPayers' Alliance. It identified 401 courses which it claimed were not suitable to be taught in universities. They include a course on golf management, offering students an understanding of the game, combined with regular trips to courses such as St Andrews and Carnoustie." (Telegraph 24.8.07)

£80m wasted on murder enquiries- "More than £80m has been 'wasted' on inquiries into murders and manslaughters by mental health patients... Failings identified regularly take up to five years to put right... Marjorie Wallace, chief executive of Sane, said this means that millions of pounds have been wasted on a system that is failing to protect patients or the public. 'The money's wasted because whenever you go back to trusts, the recommendations haven't made much difference or been carried out'. The most complex investigations can cost more than £250,000, Ms Wallace said, taking the total cost of investigations since their statutory introduction in 1994 to around £80m." (Health Service Journal 31.8.07)

Handouts to Eastern European migrants top £125m pa- "THE toll of Eastern Europeans claiming benefits has almost trebled in a year – costing the taxpayer more than £125million-a-year. Around 112,000 migrants who came to Britain to work are now claiming state handouts – the equivalent of one in six of those who have headed here since the EU expanded. It is a huge increase on the 42,620 who were claiming benefits at this time last year, which left the annual bill at around £46million. The numbers are only set to increase, as any migrant under the Worker Registration Scheme is eligible for benefits once he or she has been here for 12 months." (Express 22.8.07)

Another £1m to pay off surplus NHS bosses- "Two former Norfolk health executives have received pay-offs of more than £1m after losing their jobs in a massive shake-up of health services. The two lost their £110,000-a-year jobs - taking early retirement and redundancy - when a new Norfolk PCT was created from five former PCTs in the county last October... North Norfolk MP Norman Lamb described the payments as “the high price” taxpayers are paying for a “botched” reorganisation of the NHS. “It is not central government as much as the taxpayer that is paying for these all-too-frequent reforms, which have had little impact on improving the way care is delivered.” ( Norwich Evening News 23.8.07)

£100K to rebrand Scottish Exec- "THE Scottish Executive is to be renamed the Scottish Government this week in the biggest change to the country's political identity since devolution. First Minister Alex Salmond is to officially declare that, from tomorrow, all documents, letters and publicity material should carry the new name in what he says is a "common sense change"... Salmond will spend £100,000 on the changes, which they say will be spent on designing new signs and developing the new corporate image." (Scotland on Sunday 2.8.07)

Total- £251m

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