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Where to cut government spending

Where to cut government spending

It’s easy to find half the money needed to plug the current government cash shortage. Cut that whopping increase in arms spending

November 2020   –   what happened

On 19th of November 2020 the government announced the largest military spending budget for 30 years, giving the UK the biggest defence/arms spending budget in Europe.

This amounted to a £16.5 billion increase above the Conservative manifesto commitment over four years.

On existing forecasts, this is an overall cash increase of £24.1 billion over four years compared to the previous year’s budget (2019).

Liz Truss’s proposed escalation

This is quite separate from the proposed further huge increase in arms spending proposed by Liz Truss. Her proposal was unbelievable and would have caused outrage if it had been pursued.

Her commitment was to spend 3% of GDP on defence by 2030. To do this Liz Truss’s government would have needed to increase defence spending by about 60% in real terms. This is equivalent to about £157 billion in additional spending.

Cut what?

But the 2020 commitment remains in place and is an obvious place to save money.

Just a starter

We have two new super aircraft carriers run at enormous cost. Great for use in the Second World War, but how can they be deployed to defend Britain!? These should be mothballed or sold.

This would enable us to stop the manufacture all the aircraft needed to equip these currently emasculated weapons/super-ships.

I’m sure the government does not need to exceed its manifesto commitment on defence spending.

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Dangerous cladding scandal – the government could quickly alleviate the problem

Dangerous cladding scandal - the government could quickly alleviate the problem

The government has available some simple (partial) solutions to the problem of the combustible cladding scandal

Homes became unsaleable

More than a million flat owners in this country find themselves to be living in blocks of flats with flammable cladding and other fire safety defects.
Most of their flats are now unsaleable, which means that they are valued at zero, a problem which especially affects first time owners who can now not think of moving on.

Huge additional costs

This is a nightmare situation but to add to this disaster flat owners are faced with crippling costs which are already causing bankruptcies and huge distress. A survey of 1,342 leaseholders by Inside Housing in February 2021 found that around 90% of respondents expected to pay over £10,000, with 62.5% facing a total bill of above £30,000 to bring their flats up to the legal fire safety standard.

Two problems and their partial remedies

Two issues need immediate attention and could save flat owners millions of pounds in unjustified extra charges which have been placed on them.

  1. Fire seekers

Because more than a million flat owners are considered to be living in high fire-risk homes they have been required to employ 24-hour fire safety wardens to patrol the outside and inside of blocks of flats. It’s a ludicrous idea that a man walking round a building or walking up and down corridors, no doubt utterly numbed by the mindless boredom of the task, is going to be the first to spot a fire. Honestly, what are the chances? Almost all flat fires start inside flats themselves. The Grenfell Tower fire started inside a flat. Nevertheless these fire wardens are required by law to operate round the clock, seven days a week, and the cost to each individual flat owner amounts to over £5,000 per year.

What the government could do about fire wardens

It’s simple. Remove the requirement to employ them.

2. Insurance

Although major, all-consuming fires in tower blocks like Grenfell are extremely rare, insurance premiums have been raised to as much as five times their previous level. This is pure exploitation. It cannot be that external fires in blocks of flats have increased five fold since the Grenfell disaster in June 2017. Premiums for building insurance per flat are now as much as £3,500 a year. To add to the scandal of these huge premium rises the excesses demanded are typically £250,000. This means that insurance payouts if a home were to be totally destroyed would be only a fraction of what could reasonably be expected.

What the government could do now about the insurance companies

At nil or negligible cost to the tax payer the government could bring in controls to

  • reduce the premiums unjustified by the actual risk

  • reduce the sums required as excesses

  • make buildings awaiting the remediation of unsafe cladding exempt from insurance tax


Who is responsible for the scandal of Britain’s unsafe flats?

Several organisations can be identified as responsible for the widespread use of potentially dangerous cladding and lack of fire safety within buildings.

  1. The manufacturers must have been aware of the characteristics of the material they were using in their product. They are morally responsible for selling a highly flammable product that was far worse than “not fit for purpose”.

  2. The inspecting organisation responsible for testing a product to be installed on thousands of buildings failed in their duty to properly test the product.

  3. Past governments, in placing the task of building materials inspection in private hands, including firms connected to the building trade, removed the independence which a government body would have had.

  4. Building firms which have failed to install legally required safety features.

  5. Building inspectors who failed to ensure that buildings met the required standards, and builders who “self certified” that their work complied with building regulations when it didn’t.

Who should pay the bill for replacing cladding which is highly combustible and making safe defectively built flats?

Some of the above made huge profits from their shameful work – sums amounting to million or even billions of pounds. They should be the ones to pay to put matters right and the government (i.e. the taxpayer) should contribute too (and is already making a contribution).

Who should NOT pay to put matters right?

In this tragic scandal only one party is wholly innocent and that is the flat buyer who purchased a home in the reasonable belief that it was safe to live in. Currently it is the flat buyer who is being asked to pay for the wrongs and crimes of others.

The guilty
The government needs to act to ensure that those responsible for the damage are the ones who pay for the remedy. The cladding scandal is not just a scandal it is also a crime and people most responsible should be identified and punished.

More information at

Government article

Excellent wikipedia article

Inside Housing

Daily Mail article

David Roberts 17 February 2021

Please consider writing to your MP or Robert Jenrick, Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, and share this post.

The contact link for a short comment to Robert Jenrick is

If you have insights or experience in this area please take advantage of the opportunity to comment below. 

Photo is courtesy of

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How governments hide bad news –  and the recent bad news they want us to overlook

How governments hide bad news -  and the bad news they want us to overlook

Governments very often have to announce bad news or controversial news to the general public. In order to do this they carefully choose the time to make the announcement. When will people be distracted and have little time to consider the announcement?

It’s my observation, and you can check this out for yourself, that November/December is a favourite time to make unpopular announcements or just before the summer holidays. The general public therefore has little inclination at this time, just before Christmas or summer holidays, to consider controversial issues or to spend time lobbying MPs or protesting about something which in normal times they would be very concerned about.

This is the time of year when the government, whichever party is in power, announces an increase in defence spending. It used to be the time when the fishing quotas were negotiated with the EU and Britain, being always outvoted, usually came away with a deal which wasn’t very satisfactory to British fishermen.

Much more money for defence?

On 19 November the government announced huge increases in defence spending, at a time when money is desperately needed in other areas. Disturbing details to follow in another posting.


nuclear power station billowing steam from cooling towers

Another questionable decision taken on a new nuclear power station

On 14 December the government announced that it is “talking to” EDF the French energy company that runs our nuclear power stations and a Chinese energy company about building a new, highly controversial nuclear power station at Sizewell in Suffolk. “Talking to” is double-speak code for “planning to go ahead with”.
British taxpayers may be asked to pay billions of pounds in upfront costs and also to pay for any cost overruns.

The issue of long-term highly toxic radio-active waste will hardly be considered openly.

The Chinese company currently has a 20% stake in this project and is threatening to pull out. This would make the whole situation more difficult and possibly more costly for the British taxpayer. And should the Chinese be involved anyway?

I’ll write about these topics in the next few days or so.

David Roberts, 12 January 2021