The Big British Weekend!

In expectation of what proves to be a spiffing weekend of British celebration and Royal superness here’s a few figures to keep your feet on the ground.  Have a good street party!!

The Romans used to say panem et circenses, bread and circuses.  Basically if you wanna have loads of wars, raise taxes and oppress the population, as long as you keep everyone distracted with bread and circuses they put up very little objections.  So put down your fish and chips, and mute the Jubilee coverage and see if you can focus for five minutes.

Britain is in debt £1.1 trillion.  Ouch.

This year we’ll add £170 billion to it, and we’re paying £120 million a day on interest (Conservative party website).

The Olympics have cost, according to the Guardian, £11 billion already.  That’s over budget and they’ve not started.  An example of the bad planning can be seen in the security guards contract.  G4S got the contract to provide security for an initially agreed budget of £86 million.  That’s quite a lot when you think how little most security guards get paid.  But the Olympics organisers Locog have ended up paying £553 million.  Ooops.  Also the £11 billion price tag apparently doesn’t include the costs of buying the land where the Olympic village is based, because the sale of the land will hopefully return the investment.

The home office states: “In all the decisions taken about Olympic security we are determined to secure the best value for the taxpayer while delivering on our promise of a safe and secure Games.”  Knowing that the £11 billion is good value makes me happy. 😉  But who’s doing security for £553 million?  The US Marines?

In comparison the Jubilee costs small change.  The Queen and her chap only cost us £32.1 million. Drop in the ocean?  Yeah sure, actually their properties and attractions bring in much more than that so they kind of pay for themselves.  A lot of that bill goes on staff, and parties and the upkeep of houses, helicopters and all that cool stuff.  The Queen entertains 50,000 people a year, I think that makes her a party animal. Prince Charles gets a few quid from taxes but he has a rather smashing estate which pays his bills in the main.  The two of them pay income tax on a voluntary basis, bless.

The jubilee will cost a bit more than usual, the family have been given an extra £1 million to cover admin costs.  Greater London council has budgeted £2 million for screens and whatnot, although there will be super-big costs for the police too – they will be out in force,  6000 officers on duty on the busiest days, and twenty-one police boats on the Thames.

And the ministry of Defence supplied the Destroyer HMS Diamond, and an aerial fly past.  1000 military personnel will also be involved in the celebrations, we don’t know what this will cost.

Talking about the military being expensive…

The War in Afghanistan and Iraq following the attacks of 9/11 have cost the US between $3.7-4.4 trillion.  And in 2014 British and American troops will be handing the country back to the Taliban and withdrawing.  So a resounding success! Whoop, glad it was worth it.

Here in the UK it only cost us £20 billion – phew! (BBC figures) that’s just under £10 billion on Iraq and just over £10 billion in Afghanistan.  That doesn’t cover soldiers wages though, or care for the wounded.  Also those figures only cover up to the beginning of 2010.  Ken Livingston went on record saying: “The true cost of our policy of international adventures is now being shown – £20bn is 10 times the amount it would cost to scrap student fees in England” and Alistair Darling reckoned that following these figures he was putting aside £4.8 billion a year for the cost of the war – that’s until the withdrawal planned in 2014.  Call it another £18 billion before it’s over for argument’s sake.  Oh and the 416 British soldiers killed, 1894 wounded, in Afghan and 179 killed in Iraq.

Back at home belts have been tightened,  my local council Bolton has lost £60 million in funding so has warned that 1500 jobs will have to be cut. There were 2.7 million unemployed in Spring this year, these are people out of work and actively looking and available to start work, it doesn’t include those unable to work.

The Guardian puts the figure of bank bailouts since 2009 at a maximum of £1.1 trillion, but that is not necessarily paid to them, as much as offered on a worst case scenario basis, I gather about a third of this has actually been handed over.  Compare this to benefit spending in Great Britain £152 billion including pensions. Job seekers allowance being only 4.5 billion of that.  So all that moaning about the unemployed, and the blooming benefit-wasters on their backsides.  they don’t cost much compared to fat bankers with their recession causing strategies.  And tax evasion in the UK costs 15.5 billion and benefit fraud only £1 billion.  So if you have a gripe look up the ladder not down to find where the money is disappearing (figures: clearly not from the Daily Mail)

Meanwhile, on the bright side, if you live in Nigeria or Ethiopia UK government spending on you is going up, whoop!  But the DfID department that had been established to set up clubs, like flower arranging night in Eritrea, or tennis club in Bangladesh has been scrapped because it wasn’t seeing great results, seriously.  Booo!

The Department for International Development budget will rise to £11.5 billion in 2014/5 from £9 billion this year. The expenditure has been ring-fenced from cuts as a result of the Coalition agreement to increase the amount of spending on overseas aid by 2013 yey! (Telegraph website)

The DfID spends lots of our taxes in other countries, what a great invention, last year, the main beneficiaries were India (£279m), Ethiopia (£251m) and Pakistan (£203m). We also contribute 4.7 billion to the EU to make it shiny and excellent.  What we spend overseas (£11 bn) is the same figure as what has to be cut from the Welfare budget funnily enough. 

So here’s to Britain, things seem to be going pretty great, keep partying Queen Liz.  Union Jack hat anyone?


2 thoughts on “The Big British Weekend!

  1. I’m definitely not for cutting overseas aid budgets, but would like to see those funds given with greater restrictions and accountability as to where the money ends up (and with who, since usually the most impoverished who need it most, in reality get the least).

    I’m totally with you on looking up the ladder rather than down for accountability for much of the budget blow out, I was and still am , against the bankers bailout… it would have only taken one to have bitten the dust for the others to have been rushing to get their fiscal house in order.

    Yes Govt should THEN have looked after the people with savings and pensions etc in the bust bank, but as major stakeholder, charged the bank enough in interest in the deal to have made the whole thing a lesson of pain and shame and forcing strict accountability at the top of these institutions.

    Govts have to live within their means, people have to learn to too… the basic principle of budgeting needs to be taught more at home and at school …and the idea of “you can’t buy it until you have the cash to pay for all of it” (with exception of mortgages) should be reinstalled from an early age,and apply to all ages. We need to depart from the “entitlement” culture that’s so scarily prevalent everywhere these days.

    Like you I think it’s fine to party, but only if you have the funds in your back pocket ready and waiting to pick up the bill afterwards.

  2. So did you go to any street parties? The street celebrations build community spirit so I think they’re worth the cost (most of the time). People put in what they can afford to and a little can go a long way. Where I live strangers got together to make bunting and decorations for everyone. It’s good to have an excuse to do that.

    Someone told me they wouldn’t go to a street party because their children have grown up and ‘Street parties are for the kids’ – NO THEY’RE NOT! Street parties are for everyone!

    That said, I didn’t go either. I wanted to but nothing happened near the camp site.

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