Dear Chief Secretary to the Treasury,
I'm afraid to tell you there's no money left.
Signed, Liam Byrne

(Outgoing Labour Chief Secretary to the Treasury. May 2010)

Monday, 22 March 2010

Dinner money.

Raedwald carries a piece highlighting that the public sector is spending 52% of GDP, based on a release of pre-budget figures in the Times. This is unsustainable.

Not many people seem to be able to understand that government and government departments don't generate an income, they just push money around in circles.

Subrosa explains the frugality of the MoD, budgeting a mere £3.45p a day to feed a soldier. (Maybe some people also remember the Monty Python menu.)

Last year, Channel 4 carried a programme explaining how MPs can eat a full meal for less than £2.50, with the most expensive meal at "The Terrace" costing £3.80 - for a grilled rump steak. So, maybe, if MPs etc never eat anywhere else, never do any shopping, they might think the 52p budgetary limit for a soldier's breakfast is reasonable.

Those same MPs, however, can claim up to £400 a month in 'meal expenses' - which, over 365 days is around £13 a day. And they can visit restaurants and supermarkets, something soldiers tend not to be able to do when they're fighting.

It's the same old story - "somebody" must be frugal, "somebody" must cut expenditure - but it mustn't hurt MPs, and indeed it mustn't hurt any "public servants".

Perhaps the MPs and MoD chiefs would like to try living solely on military ration packs for a week or two - in a sandy place where they're also fighting real opponents, who use guns, not words. It might, umm, focus their thinking a little, and might make them consider spending less MoD money on the Met Office and more on soldiers.

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