Government fined £285,000,000 – what could we have done with that?

These days, local government increasingly finds itself ‘cash strapped’ because, having collected our annual Council Tax and non-domestic rates from businesses, we send the sacks of cash to central Government, who then decide how much they’re going to give us back by way of our individual Local Government Settlement.

Year on year we try to make efficiencies – some by cutting staff, others by cutting services. One source of funding for regeneration projects in recent years has been the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) which in the five years from 2007 to 2013 will invest around €9 billion across the country.

So it was a bit galling to hear that the Government, through its Department for Communities and Local Government, administered these funds wrongly a while back, and were duly fined €40 million by the EU.

Bad news, but lessons learned, right? Wrong. Because they’ve carried on making more of the same mistakes, and have now been fined £285,000,000 on top. That’s two hundred and eighty five million pounds which should have built your roads, or could have tidied up your town centre, but the Government have had to pay it back in penalties for bad administration.

Would the bureaucrats have done the same if it was their own money?

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