Wednesday, 23 January 2008


I’ve been following a few statistics lately, all on the BBC news website. Some don’t bear thinking about.

The Commons public accounts committee reports that the NHS drug bill has more than doubled from £4bn to £8.2bn in 10 years with GPs prescribing 14 items per person at an average cost of £11 per item. This means spending on drugs is £154 per person per year. The difference between a generic version of a drug and the branded version is a factor of 12.5 with the former £2.34 and the latter £29.69 in the case of statin simvastatin. Surely there must be a way to control this expenditure more effectively?

In the past decade obesity levels have risen to 25% of adults and 20% of children. Current predictions talk about 60% of men, 50% of women and 25% of children obese by 2050 if action is not taken. How have we managed to get to this?

Apparently 4 out of 10 motorbikes are not taxed. Why do we allow this?

League tables show that almost a fifth of England's state secondary schools do not yet meet the government's new "floor target" for GCSE attainment. In 639 schools, less than 30% of pupils got five good GCSEs including English and maths. Why are we failing so many of our young people?

Liam Fox has established that 68 MoD laptops were stolen in 2007, 66 in 2006, 40 in 2005 and 173 in 2004. What controls are in place to prevent this and why don't they work?

UK public borrowing shows the biggest deficit since records began a decade ago, according to the Office for National Statistics figures show. For 2006 net borrowing reached £43.6bn, £11.4bn more than 2006. That’s almost £1000 for each person in the country. Why when our economy was in good shape didn’t we plan more effectively for the bad times?

And all of these numbers pale into insignificance when you consider the Northern Rock debacle. The plans for the Government to issue bonds would mean British taxpayers providing a £25 billion mortgage to the bank, with guarantees to depositors bringing that figure to nearly £55 million. George Osborne points out that represents a £2000 mortgage for every family in this country and effectively a second mortgage on every home. Why should people pay like this just to save the Government’s face?

Is it any wonder people are looking for a change?