This Government has a long track record of wasting taxpayers’ money. In just the last few weeks, when families are tightening their belts, Whitehall continues to waste money as the following examples demonstrate:
1. The Department for Transport spent £121 million on an IT scheme which will save it just £40 million. Current forecasts show that the ‘Shared Services’ Programme will cost £121 million; benefits over the first 10 years will be £40 million; and the net cost to the Department will be £81 million (Public Accounts Committee, Shared services in the Department for Transport and its agencies, 16 December 2008, p.3).
2. IT projects are nearly £2 billion over budget and 86 years behind schedule. Government computer projects are £1.6 billion over budget and 86 years behind schedule. The longest delay is at the Department for Work and Pensions where a new IT system to enforce child maintenance payments is seven years late (The Daily Telegraph, 27 December 2008).
3. NHS hospitals are paying agency staff up to £190 an hour to cover shifts. Figures obtained under the Freedom of Information Act showed some staff were paid hourly rates equivalent to salaries worth hundreds of thousands of pounds a year. Whipps Cross University Hospitals NHS Trust said it paid £188 an hour for an anaesthetics medical consultant – equivalent to an annual salary of £366,000. Trafford Healthcare NHS Trust paid £167 for an A&E doctor, equivalent to £326,000 a year, and Dorset Primary Care Trust paid £158 an hour for a prison GP, which would amount to £307,000 a year (ITV, 3 January 2009).
4. Thousands of pounds a day on celebrities in the NHS. The Department of Health increasingly uses actors, singers, television stars in their advertising campaigns. However it refuses to admit how much it pays these celebrities. Celebrities include The Bill’s Gary Lucy (to record video diaries outlining his struggle to quit smoking), Strictly Come Dancing winner Alesha Dixon (to advertise condoms) and model/TV presenter Melinda Messenger (to promote the 5-A-Day healthy eating scheme). Officials inside the Department of Health have claimed Jenny Frost, of the band Atomic Kitten, was paid £10,000 a day for her work promoting breast feeding (The Observer, 4 January 2009).