Members of Parliament need a sound education in maths. Understanding budgets and balance sheets would have told the last government the UK bank account was substantially in the red long before the now doomed educational schools rebuilding project was announced.
Crucial in all government departments is the effective control of cash and budgets, but how often do we see projects massively over spent. The educational budget of £700m allocated to the schools rebuilding programme had to be cancelled due to a collapse in government funds. The “unforeseen” recession caused some of the grief but the flagrant overspend in a large number of other government projects, including the department of education, have exacerbated the cutbacks needed as a result of the current financial chasm. Surely somebody in the exchequer or bank of England should have been aware of the maths which ultimately revealed we were overdrawn. We can be assured individual bank managers would have written immediately to announce the account was overdrawn. But at government level there appears no such immediate control. Liam Fox rather crassly left his job in the treasury leaving a note to his successor saying “there’s no money left.”
Understanding maths has long been is in decline. Indeed many individuals take some delight in boasting of their maths incompetence. Some classical mistakes could have been avoided if the local councillor, government official, Member of Parliament were more able in maths to see the consequences of their actions.
Project over spending is inevitably a sign of ineffectual maths by the government departments or contractor. Assuming there is no collusion any instance of loss or lack of financial control should be borne by the department responsible and not be bailed out by the taxpayer. Massive overspend on computer systems in the NHS or Customs and Excise etc should simply be drawn from their operating budget. Other projects within their remit could subsequently be shut down to fund any overspend. Certainly performance bonuses paid to team members involved should seriously be reconsidered.
This form of budget control would not therefore result of the cancellation of the school rebuilding programme to pay for the lack of control in other government departments. If we are to develop a world class educational plan for our children we need a consistent and uninterruptable programme that is supported by a budget efficiency audited by a team fully understanding the maths involved.