Adam Smith Institute Nab Ex-Treasury SpAd as New Director

It’s all change over at the Adam Smith Institute. The top neoliberal think tank is having a major shakeup of its team, with Head of Research Daniel Pryor moving on to pastures new following the recent departures of Head of Comms Emily Fielder and Director of Strategy John Macdonald (not John McDonnell). Big roles to fill. That’s almost a complete turnover of their team…

Guido can reveal Madsen Pirie and Eamonn Butler have drafted in Duncan Simpson to steer the ship. Simpson previously worked as Chief Economist at the TaxPayers’ Alliance, along with a stint as a Treasury SpAd last summer. He’s taking over as the ASI’s new Executive Director. A known face in wonk world and a safe pair of hands…

Maxwell Marlow will return as the new Director of Research, having previously been the think tank’s Development Officer and Researcher before working at Hanbury Strategy. Connor Axiotes has already taken over as the new Director of Communications, joining from Richard Holden MP’s parliamentary office. Guido also hears rumours that long time Senior Fellow James Lawson, ex-Zahawi SpAd and Microsoft Defence CTO, will soon be getting more deeply involved in setting the Institute’s strategy…

 

mdi-timer 2 February 2023 @ 12:23 2 Feb 2023 @ 12:23 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
BEIS Staff Spent 5 Working Weeks Debating How to Quit Stonewall

Following Guido’s report that taxpayers coughed up over £1.2 million to Stonewall in 2021/22, including a whopping £700,000 for the “Diversity Champions Scheme”, Guido can now reveal that BEIS civil servants spent 5 weeks of staff time just to figure out how to leave it. A full 185 hours… only for the government to hand over £1.2 million anyway.

According to new FOI data from the TaxPayers’ Alliance, the department held 16 meetings in total, lasting over 8 hours, with a total of 362 staff in attendance across the discussions. Yes, 362 staff spending weeks scratching their heads over this impossible task. A task which, judging by the million-pound hole in the taxpayer’s wallet, they failed anyway… 

Last year, Guido reported on the panicked “crisis meetings” the Department for Levelling Up and the Department for Health held to solve the same problem. FOI requests were also sent to BEIS at the same time. Back then, they simply ignored the request entirely. Wonder why…

Such was Stonewall’s iron grip on Whitehall that even BEIS Permanent Secretary, Sarah Munby, had to get involved. Clearly the top 362 civil servants working on this weren’t up to the job. Munby had to hold a town hall meeting, lasting 30 minutes, to figure out how to stop burning cash on turning staff into “diversity champions”. That meeting was attended by 275 people, and during working hours. Obviously.

mdi-timer 19 January 2023 @ 12:56 19 Jan 2023 @ 12:56 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
Taxpayers Still Coughing Up £1.2 Million for Stonewall

Despite instructions to withdraw from the “Diversity Champions” scheme, new figures from the TaxPayers’ Alliance (TPA) reveal government departments still gladly handed Stonewall £1,221,222 over the last year, with a whopping 234 public organisations paying subscriptions in the last twelve months. Even after senior civil servants held multiple “crisis meetings” specifically to organise Whitehall’s exit from the money-grabbing scheme…

According to the TPA, membership of the scheme cost taxpayers at least £709,225 in 2021-22, with £108,602 splashed on conferences, events and training programmes designed to educate civil servants on becoming champions of diversity and inclusion. A further £403,395 came in the form of grants, with the devolved governments coughing up the most: the Welsh Government gave £168,870, and the Scottish Government handed over £99,917. The only good news is this is down on previous years, although still about £1.2 million too much…

Duncan Simpson of the TPA said:

“Taxpayers should not be subsidising controversial campaigners. Some public bodies continue to prop up pressure groups like Stonewall with taxpayers’ cash, despite ministers urging against it and budgets facing a serious squeeze. Withdrawing from unnecessary schemes and cutting gratuitous grants are obvious ways that savings can be found.”

A reminder that the Civil Service’s latest diversity and inclusion strategy was supposed to “ensure value for taxpayers money”…

mdi-timer 16 January 2023 @ 12:45 16 Jan 2023 @ 12:45 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
BBC Now Even Less Transparent Under Tim Davie

Guido’s old enough to remember when Tim Davie claimedeven more” transparency was vital to improving public trust in the BBC, and promised change. Unfortunately, it turns out nobody in the corporation was actually listening. According to new data from the TaxPayers’ Alliance, the BBC’s average response time to FoI requests has increased from 11 to 16 days since 2019, with the number of responses within the 20 working day statutory deadline also falling by 4% in the same period. The longest response period has more than doubled, from 86 working days in 2019 to a whopping 215 working days in 2021…

Likewise, the number of requests the BBC has decided are worthy of responding to – even if only partially – has dropped from 69% to 63%. The usual excuse they like to trot out is that the information requested simply falls outside the scope of the FoI, and that “the BBC is not required to supply information held for the purposes of creating the BBC’s output or information that supports and is closely associated with these creative activities.” In practice, that means it has no obligation to tell the public how much their ludicrous rebrand cost, or how much the taxpayer coughed up for a ten-part audio series and a TV documentary on Shamima Begum…

At the time of going to pixel, Tim Davie is currently in front of the Public Accounts Committee to talk about the BBC’s value for money. Worth bearing in mind…

mdi-timer 12 January 2023 @ 11:22 12 Jan 2023 @ 11:22 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
Government Recovers Less Than 3% of PPE Fraud Cash

The Government has recovered £18 million from fraudulent PPE contracts. Co-conspirators can be forgiven for thinking this, found in response to a written question, is good news. However put in the broader context of fraudulent PPE, which The Guardian puts at £630 million, this represents just under 3%. The Guardian quotes Daisy Cooper, calling these attempts “pitiful”. In this instance, Guido is inclined to agree…

The figures are based on estimates that 5% of the £12.6 billion in government contracts were fraudulent. Though, figures used by the TPA put an upper estimate for PPE fraud at a staggering £4 billion.  In that case, the government has recovered just 0.45%…

mdi-timer 3 January 2023 @ 15:19 3 Jan 2023 @ 15:19 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
Taxpayers Cough Up £1,300 Each in Train Subsidies

As strikes continue to derail transport service today, Britain’s rail system is still on a Taxpayer-funded life support. Research from the Taxpayers’ Alliance finds that government subsidies since the pandemic have totalled a staggering £42 Billion. That’s an average of over £1,300 from every taxpayer. 

The figures grew significantly during the pandemic, and still remain at historically high levels. In 2022/23 alone subsidies will amount to £11 billion. That’s almost triple the pre-pandemic level of £4.7 billion in 2018/19. This puts union demands into context. As the cost of living bites, British Taxpayers are being held to ransom for yet more handouts to the rail industry. Phil Basey, Head of Research at the TPA, said:

“Soaring subsidies demonstrate the unsustainability of current pay demands. For years taxpayers have been covering the costs of the rail industry, yet militant union bosses are now biting the hand that feeds them. Ministers must stand firm and protect taxpayers in upcoming pay deals.”

For £42 Billion, you might expect to get a functional service…

mdi-timer 3 January 2023 @ 10:14 3 Jan 2023 @ 10:14 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
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