By Elliot Keck, investigations campaign manager
With all the waste we uncovered in October you may have thought that November would bring some relief. Unfortunately, this latest update on our War on Waste campaign makes for no easier reading.
Because in our latest investigations it seems public sector workers have been particularly profligate with the credit card. And as always, it’s taxpayers who’ll pick up the tab. This is particularly painful given the confirmation of looming tax hikes by the chancellor, Jeremy Hunt.
One of the tax rises announced by the chancellor is to alcohol duty, meaning the price of a pint is only going to soar even higher. No wonder then that our look into booze-buying in Parliament made the front page of the Daily Star. Parliament’s bars and canteens are subsidised by the taxpayer, and it turns out that in 2021-22 alone MPs spent over £250,000 on cut price alcohol.
Politicians that add pounds to our pints at the pub are insulated from soaring prices through their subsidised boozers.
Councils and quangos were also guilty of double standards on the environment. Our investigation found that the right-on Natural Resources Wales spent over £1.6 million on gas-guzzling cars. These figures were so significant that the BBC took notice.
Councils meanwhile racked up a simply absurd number of air miles - 2 million over just three pandemic-stricken years, jetting off to places such as South Korea, the USA, Kenya and South Africa. All this despite many proclaiming a climate emergency, as well as constantly saying there’s no more fat left to trim from their budgets. Check out the details in the Daily Mail.
As if that wasn’t enough, the latest Arts Council grants programme of £1.34 billion was announced, much of it going to the weird, the woke and the wasteful. Whatever you think of Drag Queen Story Hour for children, it shouldn’t be getting a penny of taxpayers’ cash.
There was, perhaps, some good news this month, because TfL announced plans to hike the penalty for fare-dodging to £100. The only problem is that research we had done suggested that prosecutions and penalties for fare-dodging were still down compared to before the pandemic, as picked up in the Evening Standard. Transport bosses are perhaps putting the cart before the horse there.
For more analysis of council waste, make sure you check out my new ConservativeHome column. And of course keep an eye out for the next War on Waste blog in the New Year, where I’ll be looking at how civil servants spend their time…
For now, Merry Christmas!