This is the 1st of our short series of blogs into the hypocrisy that is Government Wastage.
Everybody, but everybody (except MPs of course) are having to pull in their belts. Spend a bit less at the shops each week, let the car get a bit older before it’s changed, you get the picture.
Public Authorities are universally being told to save money, spend less, outsource, any number of crazy schemes from Mr Crazy and his ConDem Coalition government.
The subject of today’s blog is wastage in the Fire and Rescue Service.
This story is from a year ago, maybe you’ve seen it before, maybe you haven’t, but I’ll try and put it in perspective.
In September 2011 the Public Accounts Committee declared that Prezza’s FireControl scheme (a private finance initiative to replace England’s 46 emergency call centres with nine regional sites) had not met ANY of its objectives. I’m not really bothered which party folk want to blame, Labour started it and the ConDems killed it off. The plan to replace 46 smaller control rooms was scrapped in December 2010. Margaret Hodge, who chairs the MPs’ committee, said the project had been “flawed from the outset” and one of the worst wastes of public money for many years.”
“The taxpayer has lost nearly half a billion pounds and eight of the completed regional control centres remain as empty and costly white elephants.”
Half a Billion pounds down, what could be worse?
Well, I’ll tell you what could be worse,
The £55,000 PER DAY you and I are paying in rents for the empty control rooms is how it could be worse.
Every day we are wasting the equivalent of 1.5 PC’s annual salary paying rent on empty buildings. The rent commitments mean the taxpayer is now paying £1.4m each month on the empty buildings at a time when the government is implementing swingeing cuts.
Surely that’s as bad as it gets, it can’t get worse than that can it? You bet your sweet bippy it can;
According to the Fire Brigades Union leader Matt Wrack “Rent has been paid on the buildings since July 2007 and the taxpayer is contractually tied into paying rent until 2033 when the leases expire”
Yes, that’s right 2033.
That means that by 2033 we will have paid £401,500,000
Six of the nine buildings are owned by off-shore property companies based in Jersey, according to research by the FBU.
It’s good to know that we’re all in this together. How many PCs, Nurses, Doctors, Teachers etc could be paid for out of this wastage? But this is last year’s story, maybe it’s got better since then.