Weekly Waste Watch- 79

Consultants don't do flood defences

In the news this week:

Defra blows another £1.1bn on consultants- "Vital flood defence funding was cut while ministers spent a record £1 billion on management consultants... Defra spent £140million on consultants in 2002-3, reaching £290 million in 2006-7. It has spent £1.1 billion since 2002. The bill is three times the amount the Environment Agency spent on building flood defences last year, despite warnings of severe weather that culminated in the this year's disastrous downpours." (Sunday Telegraph 28.10.07)

£87.43m on MPs' expenses- "Official figures on the annual claims made by MPs showed that parliamentarians recorded an average £10,000 increase in the amount they claim in expenses on the previous year. Each MP picked up an average of £135,773 to cover the costs of second homes, groceries, postage and office staff. The total cost of the MPs' expenses has risen by an inflation-busting five per cent to £87.43 million in the past year... The Cabinet's golden couple claimed more than £300,000 in expenses in the last financial year, including £30,000 for the cost of their "second home". The six-figure expenses bill was racked up by Ed Balls, the Children's Secretary and his wife, the Housing Minister Yvette Cooper. Despite typically spending the working week in London, the couple are able legitimately to claim that their "main home" is in Mr Balls's constituency of Normanton in Yorkshire." (Telegraph 26.10.07; see also the TaxPayer's Alliance here and here)

EU lobbyists bunged £0.5bn pa- "The European Commission pays out €800 million a year – more than half a billion pounds – to 10,000 lobby groups, such as Friends of the Earth. According to the environment commissioner, Stavros Dimas, this is necessary to remedy Europe's "democratic deficit" by ensuring that their voices are heard "at European level". How strange that Mr Brown and his colleagues seem so determined that our views on the EU treaty should not be heard "at European level". (Sunday Telegraph 28.10.07; see also Business Week 18.10.07)

£5bn lost to benefits fraud and error- "Benefits worth £500 million were paid out in error last year. In a decade, £5 billion has been lost through fraud and error. Prisoners, students and those with jobs and money in the bank have all enjoyed payouts to which they were not entitled. Since 1997, more than £17 million has been wrongly paid to prisoners, who are not eligible for many benefits during their incarceration. Students have received £33 million while those who are in hospital for the long term - and are not entitled to Jobseeker's Allowance or Income Support - were handed £10 million. More than £1 billion has gone in benefits to those who have jobs and are not entitled." (Mail 26.10.07)

Total for week- £6,687,430,000
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