Hole in the Budget? Just Sell Off Some National Assets Cheap

#1
From The Times, January 14, 2008

Alistair Darling’s plan to cut debt by asset sales makes slow startElizabeth Judge

A £36 billion drive to plug gaps in the public finances through asset sales has been undermined, with almost all government departments failing to come up with proposals so far, or claiming that they have little that can be privatised.

The Chancellor said in October in the Pre-Budget Report and Comprehensive Spending Review statement that each department had been asked to detail assets that could go under the hammer to raise cash to increase spending power and cut public debt. At the time a spokesman for the Treasury said that details of the sell-off would be published within days.

Aside from the Treasury itself, so far only four of a total of 21 departments have reported back: the Department For International Development (DFID); the Ministry of Defence; the Cabinet Office; and the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).

In its response, DFID said that “given the limited size of the asset base, there are no significant surplus assets”. The DWP said that it “does not have plans for material levels of asset disposal during the 2007 CSR period”. The main contribution from the Cabinet Office is a move to dispose of its 53 Parliament Street buidling.

The slow progress comes with Government finances under strain. Alistair Darling is looking increasingly as though he will overshoot his forecast of £38 billion in total public sector borrowing for the year to April 5, 2008 – £4 billion more than Mr Brown predicted in his final Budget last March.

Latest official figures showed that net public sector borrowing totalled £11.2 billion in November, compared with the £7.3 billion shortfall racked up in the same month the year before.

A spokeswoman for the Treasury initally conceded that there had been delays in the disposal project, but later she said that “there is not really a delay: departments are gradually releasing their plans, just not all in one fell swoop.” She said that reports from all departments should be published over the next few weeks.

The Government had been hoping to raise about £12 billion from the sell-offs, which are part of a wider privatisation drive to raise £36 billion by 2011.

A total of £18.3 billion has already been raised towards the £36 billion target, with a further £6 billion of funds identified in the form of a sell-off of part of the student loan book.

Separately, to meet its target, the Government has been looking at bigger sales including a £2 billion partial privatisation of CDC, the government-owned fund that pioneered venture capital investment in Britain’s former colonies, and a sell-off of the Tote betting organisation. Nuclear assets, including the State’s one-third stake in Urenco, the uranium enrichment company, and the UK Atomic Energy Authority, have also been targeted for sales.

Some of these already look to have hit the buffers because of factors including the current difficult market conditions, which have depressed some asset prices.
How the hell do you get a thirty-six billion pound shortfall in your budget? "No more boom and bust" and prudence the watchword my arrse. Still this seems pretty much SOP by now. Catastrophically fuck everything up and when the bill becomes due either sell off some assets on the cheap or take out the government equivalent of one of those 'Consolidate all your loans for one low easy price' schemes you see advertised on the afternoon telly that end up charging you 15-20%, as long as you can fix things so they don't appear on the books of course - witness Public-Private Partnerships/Private Finance Initiatives and the like. I love the last paragraph at the end about 'difficult market conditions' and 'depressed some asset prices', shades of ignoring advice and costing us an estimated two billion pounds again maybe?
 

Legs

ADC
Book Reviewer
#2
The problem then becomes what do you do when you have sold everything you can do without? Start selling off things you need? Like what?

Everyone knows that the 'Cash Converters' answer is no answer. It is a short term temporary fix. the only way to fix the budget is to spend less and earn more. So let's do that. Let's spend less on things we don't need. The NAAFI Bar Regulars would come up with plenty of things that can be cut in a budget, but how about a REALISTIC list? What can we cut from the budget and still keep Britain 'Great'?
 
#3
How about overseas aid?


We give £2.94BILLION away each and every year to the UN
PLUS
Official development assistance of £6.5Billion

£1.5Billion on fighting AIDS overseas.

And we have pledged, sorry Gordonthemoron has said that we will increase that amount by 11% to £9.1 billion by 2010.

Charity begins at home?
 
#4
FOR SALE

1x British Army. One lady owner. Very high mileage but sound runner. Mostly intact and proven high performance. Very dependable, ideal for fixing problems around the world. Would suit any major power wanting to meddle in other countries business. Best to use near available fuel supply. Taxed and MOT to end of this financial year (but not much beyond). Any sensible offer considered.

Contact Des@MoD.uk (office hours on Mon, Wed and up to mid-day Fri)
 
#5
£21 Billion will be going to the EU over the next three years into the sleaze ridden black hole of the still uncleared and corrupt accounts there.

*******!
 
#6
Let's sell the 2012 Olympics - in the same way you pass on a meddlesome timeshare. It's got to be worth something to a country that isn't in with a chance of getting them usually.

Quick bung to the IOC (normal procedure) keeps them happy and we'll throw in our pisspoor athletes too.
 
#7
I didn't know that we had any assets left to sell. We have sold off the Gas, Electric, Water, Railways drip drip drip
Why on earth we got involved in the Olympics is beyond all reason.
 
#8
Perhaps we should have just left Northern Rock to go to the wall - that would cover the deficit. I remember, we can't, most of its employees are in the North East. It should have been left to file for bankruptcy.
 
#9
How about selling off the Houses of Parliament, They would be worth a fortune and I bet there are a few American Merchant Banks who would love to have their HQ there. The govt could move into a modern building 'reflecting a new mood of political modernity and open-ness'. Oh Christ, I have been infected.
 
#10
762baynet said:
How about selling off the Houses of Parliament, They would be worth a fortune and I bet there are a few American Merchant Banks who would love to have their HQ there. The govt could move into a modern building 'reflecting a new mood of political modernity and open-ness'. Oh Christ, I have been infected.
Not such a great idea. Look at the utter balls up that is Holyrood in Scotland. No matter how much cash they get selling Westminster a new Parliment building would cost twice as much, take twice as long to build and not last half the years this one has.

Oh God. I just talked them in to it didn't I?
 

Legs

ADC
Book Reviewer
#11
bobath said:
762baynet said:
How about selling off the Houses of Parliament, They would be worth a fortune and I bet there are a few American Merchant Banks who would love to have their HQ there. The govt could move into a modern building 'reflecting a new mood of political modernity and open-ness'. Oh Christ, I have been infected.
Not such a great idea. Look at the utter balls up that is Holyrood in Scotland. No matter how much cash they get selling Westminster a new Parliment building would cost twice as much, take twice as long to build and not last half the years this one has.

Oh God. I just talked them in to it didn't I?
There's plenty of old, disused office space 'Oop North' that the Gobment could move straight into. Just needs the electric and phones switched on. Some of them even have a month's free rent per year... savings all round!
 
#12
bobath said:
762baynet said:
How about selling off the Houses of Parliament, They would be worth a fortune and I bet there are a few American Merchant Banks who would love to have their HQ there. The govt could move into a modern building 'reflecting a new mood of political modernity and open-ness'. Oh Christ, I have been infected.
Not such a great idea. Look at the utter balls up that is Holyrood in Scotland. No matter how much cash they get selling Westminster a new Parliment building would cost twice as much, take twice as long to build and not last half the years this one has.

Oh God. I just talked them in to it didn't I?
There's always Ken's gin palace a bit further up the Thames, no need therefore for a re-build.
 
#13
We could flog Gibraltar off to the Spanish, they've always fancied adding it to their property portfolio. If they don't come up with enough cash I'm sure Morrocco would be interested! Gibraltar used to be strategically important as a Naval base. Since the Navy are all on first name terms now and only possess two rotting rowing boats on the Serpentine, I think we should sell!
 
#14
How about sacking some of 800,000 civil servants whose jobs have been created since 1997 and whose pensions we won't be able to afford anyway?

msr
 
#15
I'd pay a fiver for Gib! My first act as the new owner would be to deport a certain dusky professional lady, who accepted monies for services she failed to provide, behind a skip!
 
#16
Levy a huge surcharge on foreign holidays, charge VAT on AvGas,and start a ´holiday at home´campaign,just like Hitler did with Austria etc.

I don´t think anything´s left to sell,coal and steel factories weren´t sold,they were just closed down by a rabinous Maggie,steels rising about 2000 dollars per ton per month,and we,once one of the largest producers are now importing it!

If you base your economy(in GB´s case money)on a single product and it starts failing then you´re pretty well fcuked.How can you make money if you´ve nothing to sell?Not rocket science is it!
 
#17
You've all got nothing to worry about.

This story is just a deliberate lie invented by those nasty hacks in Fleet Street to embarrass the government and sell chip paper. The government's accounts are perfectly sound.

How do I know? SVEN has said as much on numerous occasions. And we all know that SVEN is always right all the time.
 
#18
cernunnos said:
I'd pay a fiver for Gib! My first act as the new owner would be to deport a certain dusky professional lady, who accepted monies for services she failed to provide, behind a skip!
So now you need to demand arrse-o-lution for providing money with menaces eh?
 

Biped

LE
Book Reviewer
#19
37 billion annually on Quango's? 800,000 civil servants?
 

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