The coalition government has issued its "wish list" - a combination of the hopes expressed in both parties' manifestos. The document lacks actual targets which might be missed - but presumably we'll get something containing more actual facts and figures with the budget on 22 June. So instead we get aspirations like "We will aim …
Been a while since I played with paints in school, but I seem to remember blue and yellow made green...
BBC License Fee?
I know the BBC like to call it the BBC License Fee, but it's not - it is the TV License. This not so subtle rebranding gives the (useful to the BBC interest groups) that they have some form of natural right to the proceeds rather than it is public money used to finance public broadcasting.
Technically speaking, TV License Fee is a hypothecated tax (calling is a fee is, in itself, a misnomer as it is essentially just a tax on possessing a device capable of receiving a TV broadcast - it is as unavaoidable as having to pay alcohol duty on buying a pint of beer).
There is a reasonable argument that the BBC is good value for money, but it's not obvious that they have a divine and exclusive right to public money of this sort. So please, it is not the "BBC" License Fee.
Look what a mess ITV (and Channel 4) made of their public broadcasting responsiblities.
Disclosure of spending...
> all central government spending and contracts over £25,000
> Local councils will be required to publish all spending over £500."
Ain't that just typical of Whitehall - make life twice (or in this case 50 times) more difficult for the LAs than for themselves...
re: Disclosure of spending...
I'm no Government lover (Guvnophile?), but it's proportional surely? i.e. Central Government generally has more cash to spend on bigger projects than local councils.
Anyway, hopefully this will at least bring out into the open a lot of the 'budget wasting' that goes on each February/March time (to ensure the same amount next year). Examples include turning a T-junction into the tiniest mini-roundabout you've ever seen, for no apparent benefit, and erecting 'speed limit of 30mph in 150yds' type signs. From 150 yards away I can quite clearly SEE the 30mph sign, thanks very much.
No doubt such projects will now be conveniently priced at £499.99.
Before somebody picks me up, it's licence, not license...
However, to pre-empt some twerp who is bound to say this is not a tax, here's a link to a Parliamentary select committee report that confirms this is a hypothecated tax, and also it does not necessarily belong to the BBC in perpetuity.
A relevant quote
"The licence fee is a standard hypothecated tax on access to television in its entirety (not just on BBC channels). The Government decides what proportion of the licence fee income should go to the BBC, and currently the BBC receives it all. "
Our local council already complies with the £500 publishing requirement. It's not something new from the ConDem party.
... and tenders
The document curiously says that councils must publish "contracts and tenders", Whitehall must only publish "contracts". Must be a typo, surely they don't intend to hide the details of who wasn't their friend at contract award time.
The publication of losing tenders ( if that is really what is proposed, which I doubt ) must provide hours of fun for game theory minded readers.
I was brought up to believe that buyers had an information advantage and sellers a disadvantage. The bigger the gap in knowledge the better the deal the buyer might expect to get by playing on the sellers fear of a better bid. Sellers always seek to gain the maximum information and buyers to deny it. If a host of information is made available surely a smart bidder will watch what happens on the first contract award and then use that information to shape their second tender.
From my ( very limited ) knowledge the reason bids are sealed is so that the winner doesn't know by how much he won or the losers know by how much they lost.
If a winner knows they won by a big margin they will, surely, seek to raise their price or lower their service next time around. Competitors will gradually get closer to each other and reduce the "winners curse", which increases the cost to the buyer.
At this point I would like to stop, because I can feel a queue of game theorists lining up to tell me I don't know what I am talking about.
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