The War on Waste Blog: December 2022

Santa certainly visited civil servants in December. According to The Sun, £30 million of vouchers have been given out to Whitehall bureaucrats in the last few years. But even worse than that - this voucher scheme is not just used by civil service departments, it’s used across the entire public sector.


A particularly shocking example was Hampshire County Council, which has recently warned of bankruptcy, giving out £200,000 of vouchers to staff since 2019 (as revealed in the Hampshire Chronicle). To be clear, there is nothing wrong in principle with bonuses, but when they are being given out in organisations where services are clearly deteriorating, or the finances failing, taxpayers will find them very tough to justify.


Even more difficult to justify, though, were the revelations published in the Express of UK aid to India. Revealed against a backdrop of Trade secretary Kemi Badenoch’s visit for trade talks, it showed how £370 million of taxpayer cash was spent in a country which, for all its problems, has a rapidly growing economy that is already larger than the UK’s.


But where have those vast sums gone exactly? It turns out that the UK has given £106,015 to improve mango production, £38,000,000 on loans to private sector-led infrastructure projects, £12,214,042 to help Indians adapt to climate change, and £3,215,216 on improving the skills of Indian bureaucrats. All worthy goals undoubtedly, but should cash-strapped Brits really be expected to foot the bill? 


Also, in December, we got an update on the promised review of the bizarre decision to make Rotherham the world’s first “Children’s Capital of Culture.” After our groundbreaking story with the Mail on Sunday, the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities promised to review the £1.8 million pledged to the project. The result? That it was all above board, and the scheme would go ahead as planned. We didn’t let the department get away with it, and had our latest findings published in the Mail on Sunday.


If this month’s findings didn’t irritate you enough, the January edition is going to be particularly grisly. Diversity staff in prisons, and civil servant film clubs will feature. A not so happy new year for taxpayers, perhaps.


Most of our investigations come from tips offs, both great and small. Do you know of any taxpayers’ money being wasted? Email me at [email protected]

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