The chairman of the Commons' Public Accounts Committee, Margaret Hodge, has complained that civil servants waste millions of pounds of taxpayers' money but are then able to walk away with no-one left to be accountable for the errors.

She claims that 'The tradition of changing jobs every two years, which still prevails within the Civil Service, completely undermines personal accountability. People move on too fast too often and have no sense of personal responsibility.' But she did add that the "emphasis was never sufficiently focused on value for money" under the previous Prime Minister, Gordon Brown.

The committee has been looking at the M25 widening project contract that had taken ten years to sign and the cost overrun is now £660 million. Now they find that the official responsible for this had left, got a job with one of the project's consultants and was in Spain when they wanted to talk to them.

They also investigated the Ministry of Defence aircraft carrier debacle where the contract was signed with no agreed resources and where delays imposed to balance the budget cost the taxpayer another £1.6 billion.

Now, isn't this a bit of the pot and kettle? How often do ministers change jobs and get shuffled around? Also, civil servants are given complex politically driven policies to implement (yes the politicians make the policies. The civil servants then have to make them work however complex or down right daft they are. And without the recourse of complaint).

For an example of complexity look at the current state of the taxation system. So many loopholes, so many allowances, so many tax credits etc. Is it any wonder that mistakes get made?

As to the M25 project, it's not just a case of a couple of navvies with shovels and some tarmac. Just Google it and you will see how complex the issue really is. All that real estate, finding out who owns it and purchasing it of necessary. Will there be adequate emergency and support services for the extra traffic? You can't just shut the M25 down for 6 months, it's got to be staged. How about the upgrades required to supporting road systems? etc.

And with regard to the aircraft carriers I get the distinct impression that instructions were given to push them through and that the budget would be somehow sorted out later. Instructions like that would not be given by civil servants, however senior. I've also never understood how there could be such a huge black hole [1] in defence spending without ministers (including the PM) being aware. They must know / have known the position.

Are politicians trying to hide the true cost of the UK's legitimate 'non-green' and defence type requirements from us? Blaming those who cannot reply is one very easy way to do it. After all it's so nice and fluffy to claim that you're always increasing funding for the National Health Service and wind-farms instead isn't it?


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