Brain Food: Stat of the Month - What a waste - $81bn, The annual Government spend on 'useless' projects

This figure comes from the Taxpayers' Alliance, so you might suspect exaggeration.

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Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

The Treasury's own Gershon Review of 2004 put possible 'efficiency savings' at £21 billion, but proposed ploughing another £300 million into an 'efficiency challenge fund', so the higher figure may not be wide of the mark. For the Alliance, 'useless' includes 'extravagances, such as Lord Irvine's wallpaper' (which cost £59,000 in 1998), and 'ill-fated projects like the NHS's national programme for IT'. Such complex schemes leave the Government wide open to pot-shots from pressure groups, yet it lavishes £22 billion a year on quangos. The Essential Guide to British Quangos listed 529 in 2005, rating the British Potato Council, with its baffling Chip Week, as most useless. Whatever the figure, business pays the price: Budget measures, claims the CBI, have added more than £60 billion to corporate tax bills since '97, stifling competitiveness and investment. A serious problem, then. How much cash should we throw at the solution?

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