Bring government to the people

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Stansted Airport Expansion

No, No, No. All that money (where is it now, still around £2billion with contingencies for cost overrun though it will probably overrrun more?)
Spend it on high-speed airport to airport rail links based on the Japanese bullet train - at 300kph it will take little more than an hour to get from Heathrow to Durham Tees Valley, about the same time as from Heathrow Terminal 1 to Terminal 5.

Benefits: relieves the pressure on the London airspace, reduces (to nil) internal flights, makes the North Esst the first port of call for foreign businessmen

Choosing Health and Social Care locally

So htere's a plan for Local Government to work with NHS to choose services that are right for patients.
Right now, local government chooses how to meet our social care needs (which it does with limited central guidance), and NHS chooses our health needs (with a lot of central guidance in the form of national targets etc). The result - as the budget gets squeezed, each side tries to fob chunks of budget onto the other.
Actually this might just work - single point of commissioning, informed by national expertise (Royal Colleges of health professionals, over-arching national targets for population health, etc)

Monday, January 22, 2007

NHS Contracts Negotiated Centrally

The Government is negotiating with a private company to develop new treatment centres in the North West region (Cumbria, Merseyside, etc), which might make existing NHS facilities unviable.
Why does the government have to negotiate these in London? Surely they should be negotiated in the affected region? Perhaps then Netcare would have offices in the region?
I hope that senior Department of Health staff aren't feathering their own nests, negotiating a sweet deal then (having committed the taxpayers' money) switching jobs to Netcare to reward themselves with the same taxpayers' money! It has happened!


Sunday, January 21, 2007

Regional Government

What do other nations do?
USA - state capitals in every state. Washington is just for diplomats and politicians, the business of life is in the state capital
Canada - territory capitals for businesses
Germany - bundestag in every region where the bulk of commerce and industry is devolved (they even have local currencies!)
Spain - strong local regional identity and business loyalty to the region, rather than all concentrated in the capital
Italy - also strongly regionalised
Switzerland - strong regions

Democracy means that government should be near the people, and business should be near the people

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Thursday, January 18, 2007

Legal Aid Scheme

Just how many lawyers and solicitors make most of their income from the Legal Aid scheme? Lots, to judge by the number threatening to leave the profession on yesterday's news!
More people pocketing taxpayers' money. I don't mind recirculating money, but when Japan has a hundred times as many engineers (per head of population) than we do, and we have a hundred times as many lawyers as they do, i think the balance of service is in the wrong place here

BBC Stays in White City

So BBC throws a hissy fit - won't move out of London to Salford because the government won't raise the license fee above the rate of inflation.
The right answer is to let those who want to pay a license fee, pay it; and those who don't pay it have to prove that they don't watch BBC television. With digital TV it should be easy to encode the signal, and it would be fair!
Of course if BBC takes a different view and recirculates its mandatory fees (taxes) into the economy then i have less problem paying

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Runaway Inflation

On top of credit card bills from Christmas and higher energy crises, the forecast rise in interest rates will make the mortgage more expensive too!

I still rejoice that interest rates are lower than they have been for decades. And if your mortgage is too high or you really need to reduce the cost of business, you could always try moving North. There are the usual skills and skills shortages but Northern man has proven time and time again that we learn fast, are reliable and have real attention to detail.

Happy New Year!

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Discretionary Spend and Regional Spending

How well off am I? There are things I have to spend on, like health, pension (I will be old some day), Social Security (savings for when I'm out of work), security, safety, education for myself when I was young and my children. Food, clothing, water, energy, transport and mobility are all a little more discretionary - I need them but I can choose to have more or less of them. Then there are the truey discretionary spend items, such as recreation and leisure.
So which is the most cost-effective way to get the bare minimum of the items I have to have (assuming we can all agree on a bare minimum)?
Looking at USA, with a low-tax economy and many of the above provided by financial services companies through charitable providers, and Germany with many provided by local Associations, and Scandinavia with a high tax/high provision economy, the picture is clear - fuzzy round the edges, but clear.
Low tax and private or charitable providers very quickly turns out to be the most expensive way to do it. High central taxation provides the best services at the best price. And the UK model of high levels of input from local representative organisations (eg Local Area Agreements allow local government to set the agenda for NHS) tailors the services to my personal and my neighbours' personal needs.
Bring government to the people - central taxation and local decisions on spend. But bring the politicians out of London to see where their money actually comes from!