Nolan reveals a long standing £1 Billion error in Sinn Fein’s NI budget calculations…

So this morning, I am genuinely sorry to say, was another Sinn Fein car crash on Nolan. No doubt the party flaks will be giving him stick for being too harsh on Alex Maskey (usually a master of the talk over the interviewer technique).

Yet that would be wrong on so many levels. If ever there was a reflection of the absence of the party’s leadership from Northern Irish politics is this woeful display of anti knowledge.

I don’t know for sure if it was a deliberate attempt as Nolan accurately put it this morning to mislead the Northern Irish public. But the record shows that Sinn Fein have made cumulative error of £1 billion in their calculations over a three year period.

It looks for all the world like the party has sent in politician into the crease without a proper briefing. Not only that, more broadly this does appear to be a figure the party actually believed to be sound. If so, then what sort of reception could they expect in negotiations with the DUP?

It’s shows just how difficult it is to grow a presence in one place whilst maintaining a viable presence in another. I want to come to Dublin South West separately, but I was struck by this comment on Twitter from Squinter…

Ephemeral is not the word you would use about Sinn Fein in Northern Ireland, but when called to account for itself as it was this morning it is certainly a great deal more diaphanous than its outsize publicity claims. Check the website to find Nolan’s comprehensive working out

  • Katie-o

    I don’t see how the party sent their politician in to the crease without proper briefing, Maskey is chairman of the DSD for God sake…

  • Jag

    “Ephemeral”? Expect a sharply worded tweet from Gerry and the bear, and a 140-character apology from Squinter.

    And in the same vein of billion errors, on the euro side of the border, the finance minister has found a €1bn error in the Sinn Fein budget

    http://www.independent.ie/business/budget/noonan-identifies-1bn-blackhole-in-sinn-feins-water-charge-claims-30653098.html

    Despite its provenance, the story is more or less accurate. Irish Water is allowed borrow for capital spending and that borrowing doesn’t impact the Exchequer because Irish Water is not a government organisation. Over two years, IW is planning to borrow €1bn to spend on the water system.

    If Irish Water was dismantled as SF want, then the borrowing for capital spending would impact the Exchequer.

  • Dan

    He came across as nothing more than a corner boy lout when Nolan was taking him to the cleaners.

  • barnshee

    He is a politician— they procrastinate, obfuscate,ignore the question asked, answer an unrelated unasked one, bully, bluster and ( on occasion) glower with menace. Maskey ran the full gamut this a.m.

    The big weakness (not exclusive to SF) is the economic one. SF a one trick pony (Irish Unity ) stole the SDLP`s clothes in NI and are now trying to do the same in the ROI by adopting the Socialist/Labour mantle. They appear not to have learned from their northern lesson -with power comes a requirement for decision making and the danger of accountability. Whilst the sectarian divide may save them in NI it will not help them in the ROI

  • Lionel Hutz

    was there a link to last weeks car crash

  • Morpheus

    This is getting absolutely ridiculous – in typical Northern Ireland fashion it seems we are more concerned with proving that SF are wrong rather than proving what is actually right in this Mongolian Clusterf*%k. This is not a green v orange issue, this will affect us all.

    Let’s talk it out…

    From where I stand we need to divide these cuts out:
    Cuts already made by Westminster + Cuts due to Welfare Reform Bill = Total Cuts

    The cuts already imposed by Westminster made changes to Child Benefit, Tax Credits and changes to the Local Housing Allowance element of Housing Benefit and are estimated to amount to £490m of cuts to Northern Ireland every year.

    The Welfare Reform Bill – currently at Consideration stage – will make changes to Incapacity Benefit, DLA, Housing benefit and is estimated to bring another £268m of cuts to Northern Ireland per year.

    Therefore
    £490m per year + £268m per year = £758m per year

    So this is why NICVA say:

    “In simple terms, without welfare reform there would be an extra £750m on top of the welfare budget.”

    http://www.nicva.org/article/welfare-reform-explained

    So NICVA stand over their figure and in the absence of any other substantive analysis, why wouldn’t SF use it? It is true that £490m per year is going as a result of Westminster cuts and there is nothing that anyone can do about it but it still needs to be taken into consideration when assessing the total impact on Northern Ireland.

    What are we doing about this figure, what impact will it have on the local economy, how many job losses, how many businesses go under, how many repossessions, how many suicides?

    Plus what impact will the removal of JSA from 18-21 year olds have?

  • Niall Chapman

    Unless im reading incorrectly due to a hangover Morpheus seems to have hit the nail on th head, 750 is the correct figure, but Maskey didnt have the sense to articulate it, and given the fact that Sinn Feins alternative budgets are costed and proven accurate by the Department of Finance (only relative to southern Alternative budget of course) I’d say the Shinners might be more econimically savy than they’re given credit for

  • Morpheus

    I don’t think it’s a lack of articulation on behalf of Maskey and McAleavey – they simply don’t possess the ability to lead the interview in the direction they want it to go and put across the points they want to put across. Nolan will ask his questions and only allow the interviewee to answer in the way that suits him. Not his fault I suppose but this, with his annoying habit of continuous interruption and his new found Team America montage rubbish – depending on who he is speaking to – makes his show difficult to listen to sometimes.

    The £750m, if accurate, could just be the beginning NC

  • barnshee

    “So NICVA stand over their figure and in the absence of any other substantive analysis, why wouldn’t SF use it? It is true that £490m per year is going as a result of Westminster cuts ”

    1 What was the subvention 2012/13

    2 What was the subvention 2013/14

    3 What is the budget –2014/15

    It is my understanding that 3 is greater than 2 and 2 is greater than 1
    Where this is correct there are no “cuts” -increases expected are not coming are not cuts

  • Brian Walker

    This was bluster on both sides. Nolan started by slamming Maskey for being
    wrong from the start rather than calmly presenting the facts first to back up
    his attack. We only heard “£250 million over three years not £450 million over
    one year” quoted at about 37 minutes in, right at the end. This was a job for
    the rapier not the Nolan bludgeon. Nolan was so keen to nail Maskey that he was bound to get his back up. He attacked him head on before the audience was able to judge who was right. This was a cardinal error of interviewing, a long macho joust that generated mainly heat.

    Why hasn’t clarity about the figures been established? BBCNI employ a political editor and an economics correspondent. Why haven’t they dealt with the controversy as well as baldly stating the figures? Why hasn’t the
    Finance minister? Slugger raised the controversy over welfare calculations a couple of weeks ago. To sceptics and opponents Maskey was mawkish , verbose and evasive. To his supporters he was being bullied. Nolan did not land
    a clear “win”. To risk interviewing in that aggressive manner he has to win. But the longer it went on the worse it sounded, even though Maskey gave some ground if you stuck with it.
    This style will divide the audience regardless of the content and this Nolan should avoid. Poor broadcasting and worse politics.

  • nilehenri

    soudan street, (the village) belfast. 2008 and 2012 respectively. this is what unionist parties are doing to the traditional protestant working classes.
    i would invite anyone to take a virtual stroll through belfast using google street view historical images*. as arthur brisbane said, ‘use a picture. it’s worth a thousand words.’
    no to welfare reform under the current proposals.
    *you can access the images via the little clock in the top left hand corner of street view.

  • Don Gato

    I’m sure the Unionist parties would be delighted to take credit for what is happening in Soudan Street; Here’s what 120 Soudan Street looks like in 2014 rather than 2012 as per the latest image provided above; new houses and clear evidence of building and regeneration; http://maps.googleapis.com/maps/api/streetview?size=640×640&pano=ZM-R0-iaZ_kv_xJ-y8Cxvg&heading=-25.183601443938073&fov=90&pitch=10.7033426183844&sensor=false

  • nilehenri

    so we run the village into the ground, bulldozing 100 year old houses of unique historical and architectural importance (that would be highly sought after in any normal society) just so we can take credit for revitalising the area? it could only make sense to a unionist voter.
    photo: amcomri street, just off the falls, 2008 and 2012.

  • 71N15

    Nolan – doesn’t illuminate, he just hectors. Looking forward to William Crawley taking over Talkback – more measured interviewing style and as a consequence, we the listeners will learn more.

  • Comrade Stalin

    nilehenri,

    The Village was in a bad way before these works started, there were houses that still had outside toilets, and many have been demolished and rebuilt. I’m at a loss to understand why you think this is a bad thing.

  • Comrade Stalin

    I see various allegations about Nolan’s combative interviewing technique, but even allowing this doesn’t allow us to escape from the fact that Alex Maskey appears to have been poorly briefed.

    This seems to be a bit of a symptom. Maskey also wasn’t well briefed when he had a confrontation with Arlene Foster on the Nolan TV show about the benefits of a united Ireland. Last week, Phil Flanagan wasn’t briefed about cuts in culture spending. And in recent years Gerry Adams himself has been exposed as not having a clue about basic details of the Irish economy.

    To me this shows that SF aren’t doing serious research of their own (despite having access to public money for 29 paid researchers for their Stormont MLAs) and they seem to think they can get away with just winging it on policy and not spending even a little bit of time having someone put together a proper case for what they are proposing.

  • nilehenri

    the village was in a bad way when i lived in belfast 20 years ago comrade. they are addressing the symptoms, but not the root cause. truth is that we are an economic basket case and reform is needed, but not in the way that it is currently being administered.
    the unionist parties have cynically abused their position to wheedle short term concessions from the tories in order to maintain the status quo, but the whole system is broken. for example, we spend almost a billion quid on alcohol and drug related issues thanks to their intransigence and faith based policy decisions.
    they are the ‘no’ parties, aided and abetted by the media here with their ‘anybody but sinn fein’ mantra. like i said, cynical manipulation, where ordinary people suffer. the tories couldn’t give a shoot about the people in ireland, they just see ulster as an easy area in which to make savings, completely oblivious to the fact that our unique problems exist thanks to years of english mis-management and sectarian xenophobia.

  • Comrade Stalin

    I don’t disagree with you about the economy, which needs to be fundamentally rebalanced and for which they haven’t a jot of a clue about how to improve.

    But you started out by suggesting that they weren’t doing anything to solve housing problems, and I pointed out that they are. Take a drive along Shore Road some time, from the bottom of Skegoneill Avenue towards the city centre for another example. So I was responding to that.

    Also it’s not strictly true that the Tories see Ulster as an easy area to make savings. Public spending here is still something like double what it is in England, and the formula used for calculating public spending applies across the UK. It’s too easy to blame the Tories for our own failings.

  • Goretti Horgan

    I’m not one to defend Sinn Fein normally but it seems to me that they are not being treated fairly on this – the figures they are quoting are essentially correct and are agreed, not only by NICVA etc but also by more right of centre think tanks like the Institute for Fiscal Studies. Of course, they duck the reality that they have ok’d some of the changes that have hit benefit claimants hardest – in particular, the end of Incapacity Benefit and introduction of ESA, which was passed without opposition in June 2007. I heard some of the Nolan Show but got the impression that Nolan was as unclear on the figures as Maskey – he seemed not to understand that if there was a cut in social security spending of £Xm in a year, that that cut will happen again in every subsequent year i.e. all these cuts are cumulative. I’ve been on the Nolan website and it does NOT contain a comprehensive working out of the alleged error by SF – just a transcript of a bit of this morning’s show. If we had the figures that Nolan refers to, we could then judge if he is right – but for now, SF’s figures have more evidence to back them.
    What is needed is for the politicians to I) admit that 98% of the cuts associated with Universal Credit are already with us and so not introducing it is simply grandstanding and 2) start taking seriously the potential impact of the abolition of DLA on the many victims of the Troubles who make up the differential in awards of DLA between here and GB, make this part of Dealing with the Past; force Westminster to acknowledge our particular circumstances (there is more disability and mental ill-health in EVERY region coming out of conflict, this is not special pleading) and have this taken into account in relation to how PIP is implemented here. For those of you who don’t know, Westminster has said that in the move from DLA to PIP, there would be a 20% reduction in the numbers of people who get it and that these would be mainly people with mental ill-health.

  • nilehenri

    the barnett formula is neither economically nor scientifically proven. it has no legal standing, it is mere policy.
    i posted the houses as an example of poor politics, i could have just as easily mentioned their cynical use of the environment as the reason to block the a5 development, or any other of a myriad of examples. northern ireland as an entity will never work, the good friday agreement hasn’t even been fully implemented, what does that tell you?
    i don’t blame the tories, it is a world-wide phenomenon that we are currently experiencing. but there are better ways to manage the crisis, and in typical norn-iron fashion, some of our politicians have chosen the worst possible route.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Our problems are all traceable back to our deep seated inter- and intra-community problems, and getting rid of the Northern Ireland “entity” will not solve those, no matter what why you slice it.

    I’m still holding out for people waking up to the fact that voting for the politics of fear leads to these bad decisions. The A5’s approval in the first place was an example of the carve up politics that causes all the problems.

  • Bryan Magee

    Why couldn’t Alex Maskey find the words to accept that the £450m figure was not calculated on a per annum basis? It could have been possible for him to do without too much loss of face, and it would have been the only way out of this line of questioning.

  • Morpheus

    2009-2010 – £10,291m
    2010-2011 – £9,956m
    2011-2012 – £9,634m

    http://www.dfpni.gov.uk/ni-net-fiscal-balance-report-2011-12.pdf

    The Northern Ireland Centre for Economic Policy estimated the Northern Ireland fiscal deficit for 2012/13 at approximately £9.400m:

    http://www.business.ulster.ac.uk/nicep/docs/NICEP_Spring_2014_Outlook.pdf

    All estimates as I am sure you are aware.

    What is your understanding based on? Could you put up your figures with links?

    It is absolutely ludicrous to suggest that there are no cuts – the whole point of this exercise is to save money and get the deficit down

  • mickfealty

    A reader emails..

    There is a key difference between welfare reforms/cuts generally and the welfare reform bill currently stuck in a Stormont stalemate.

    Some senior Sinn Fein figures – and politicians from other parties – have been talking about £750m a year in benefit cuts coming in.

    The £750m estimate came from a university study for NICVA.

    But NICVA has confirmed that it actually included over £500m of changes that have now happened – they have nothing to do with the current Assembly welfare bill stalemate.

    These changes were brought in by earlier Westminster and Stormont decisions.

    So it is totally inaccurate to use the £750m figure when talking about “Saying No to Tory Cuts” and fighting welfare reform. It’s too late to say no to a lot of it – it’s already here.

    Then there are the claims by Alex Maskey that the official cuts figure from the current welfare reform bill is £450m per year.

    He has been basing that on what he says the Department for Social Development told his Stormont committee in 2011.

    But the Department totally contradicts this. It says the 2011 committee briefing referred to a raft of welfare changes – NOT JUST THE CURRENT BILL.

    And the £450m estimate was over a three year Comprehensive Spending Review period – NOT ONE YEAR.

    The Hansard record from this briefing backs up the DSD position.

    The Department also says the most recent official estimates on the current welfare reform bill involved cuts of £200m-£250m OVER THREE YEARS.

    That is in line with the penalties the Treasury is now imposing on Stormont for not making the savings/cuts.

  • mickfealty

    Whilst I agree that Nolan’s style does not exactly lend itself to the complex, in this case he has done his homework.

    It makes no odds what his supporters think (though of course in a democracy they are entitled to view the proceedings in whatever manner they see fit), Maskey is and has been talking nonsense.

    To go back to the bad batting captain analogy, it’s probably not his fault. Getting sent into the crease with information of this degree of ‘duffness’ ought to come with consequences. But when you go dumping your talent because they disagree with the leadership, you are going to wind up in holes once people start calling you on it.

    Listen to Alex’s protest that the media have been swallowing this line for a very long time. He does have a point. I just hope this is an opportunity to reset, although I fear not.

    All of this would have been a little clearer from the start if people had actually read the fecking links! 😉

  • mickfealty

    Can someone please talk to Morpheus who understands the detail of all of this?

  • Morpheus

    You disagree with what I have written Mick?

  • mickfealty

    Only this: “the cuts already imposed by Westminster”. This, as I am sure you know, means it has already been accepted by Stormont Castle (ie, OFMdFM)?

    This works only if you believe that SF is not in government. I’m pretty sure that’s how the leadership of the party sees it.

    But if you look at it from a citizen’s pov, ie that SF has actually been in [ahem] government then this money was (or “continues to be”, if you really insist) lost by SF’s agreement.

    Is that clearer?

  • mickfealty

    Nile,

    “short term concessions from the tories in order to maintain the status quo”

    Specifically, which ones are you thinking of…?

  • Morpheus

    It’s better than that other disrespectful piece of garbage you submitted. If you disagree with what I have written then fine, say your piece but to ask someone who ‘understands the detail’ to talk to me is beyond rude. Learn some manners.

  • mickfealty

    I’m only human Morph. Thoughts?

  • Jag

    Hah, the SFers are refusing to come on the Nolan show today (“and that is their prerogative”, says magnanimous Radio Face)

    Time was, you couldn’t keep the SFers off the media, even with their dubbed voices.

    Now, the message to media is this – “be unkind to us in interviews and make us look like a shower of incompetent galoots, and we’ll boycott your outlet”

  • mickfealty

    Not sure how/why that appeared under ‘guest’. It was me.

  • mickfealty

    Goretti, here ya go… http://goo.gl/zjhXOV

    See my note above to Morpheus? It may be perfectly legit for a protester to take your position/view of the whole situation, but not a politician who is pretending his party had no part in any of this.

    That’s exactly the sort of quagmire that makes our elected politicians unaccountable.

  • nilehenri

    mick, it doesnt take einstein to work out that the conservatives operate a laissez faire type arrangement with the unionist parties, their collective aims being more or less parallel. remember when the unionists kept john major in power , 1993?

  • nilehenri

    disaagree. i, and the majority of cnr (for want of a better descriptive) are entirely comfortable with expressions of pul identity. the same cannot be said the other way round. adapt or die. thems the rules.
    the a5 might not have been deemed necessary had we constructed a motorway to the north-west, a project that was repeatedly ignored in the interest of short-term gains for our unionist brethren.

  • Morpheus

    If you disagree with the use of the word ‘imposed’ then replace with with ‘implemented’. If you still have issue with it then take it up with NICVA as it is their terminology.

    Serious question: are you more concerned with proving SF wrong or getting to the truth about the real figure and the real impact on the people/economy of Northern Ireland?

  • Morpheus

    “The A5’s approval in the first place was an example of the carve up politics that causes all the problems.”

    In what way? You think the A5 was not a necessity?

  • mickfealty

    I’m concerned with people who are in government (and who take their salaries for such) pretending that they are not in government when the brown stuff starts to fly.

    That’s a faulty bargain.

    PS, I put far more effort into that piece on JTI, and not one comment yet.

  • This is the BBC at their work on behalf of the state. I am no SF supporter but this obsession with numbers is an irrelevance. I don’t give a fiddlers whether its £450M or 2/6, the central question is why are we having welfare reform at all? Why do we need these austerity measures & why has little old Norn Iron absolutely no say in the matter? These are the questions that Nolan & other BBC hacks should be asking, but significantly they don’t.

    Let me try to answer these questions.

    Firstly, We are having austerity measures because rich bankers almost bankrupted the country. So now under the capitalist system the poor must be made to pay. Why not have the bankers pay for the damage they did? Would that not be fair? A small levy on bankers profits would make the cuts unnecessary. (http://robinhoodtax.org.uk/). But the Tories, whose mates are these very bankers won’t do this.
    Secondly, the NI electorate are disenfranchised from national politics because none of the main UK political parties make themselves accountable at election time to the electorate here Labour & Lib Dems refuse to stand & the Tories do not stand in one or two constituencies. As a result we do not elect the government that makes the important decisions & must accept whatever they decide. This is not democracy.
    These are the issues we should be addressing, not obsessing over numbers. Its a deliberate distraction.

  • Morpheus

    Our Government were elected by the people of Northern Ireland to represent the people of Northern Ireland so I would at the very least expect them to have a grasp on how all this will impact, y’know, the people of Northern Ireland. If the Welfare Reform Bill will cost the NI economy £450m per year on top of the £490 implemented from Westminster then great, what are we gonna do about it? If the Welfare Reform Bill will cost the NI economy £250m per year on top of the £490 implemented from Westminster then great, what are we gonna do about it?

    But for your benefit, is there anything you disagree with in this:

    This is getting absolutely ridiculous – in typical Northern Ireland fashion it seems we are more concerned with proving that SF are wrong rather than proving what is actually right in this Mongolian Clusterf*%k. This is not a green v orange issue, this will affect us all.

    Let’s talk it out…

    From where I stand we need to divide these cuts out:
    Cuts already implemented by Westminster + Cuts due to Welfare Reform Bill = Total Cuts

    The cuts already implemented by Westminster made changes to Child Benefit, Tax Credits and changes to the Local Housing Allowance element of Housing Benefit and are estimated to amount to £490m of cuts to Northern Ireland every year.

    The Welfare Reform Bill – currently at Consideration stage – will make changes to Incapacity Benefit, DLA, Housing benefit and is estimated to bring another £268m of cuts to Northern Ireland per year.

    Therefore
    £490m per year + £268m per year = £758m per year

    So this is why NICVA say:

    “In simple terms, without welfare reform there would be an extra £750m on top of the welfare budget.”

    So NICVA stand over their figure and in the absence of any other substantive analysis, why wouldn’t SF use it? It is true that £490m per year is going as a result of cuts implemented from Westminster and there is nothing that anyone can do about it but it still needs to be taken into consideration when assessing the total impact on Northern Ireland.

    What are we doing about this figure, what impact will it have on the local economy, how many job losses, how many businesses go under, how many repossessions, how many suicides?

    Plus what impact will the removal of JSA from 18-21 year olds have?

    There’s a great big ball, let’s play it…

  • streetlegal

    Well – you can dress a monkey in an Armani suit, but that doesn’t make him an accountant.

  • NMS

    It is just a wonderful piece. I just love the line “I am trying to be kind to you.” Maskey keeps just digging the whole deeper and deeper.

    Denying the truth, just like their support for the Irish Bank Bail out. Michael D’s last Dáil speech sums it up so well. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OJJ5q1_5jX8

  • npbinni

    Nolan completely owned Alex on this one. Facts are stubborn things. Alex couldn’t spin it this time. Well done Mr Nolan.

  • Old Mortality

    If excessive DLA claims are a consequence of the Troubles, why is it that the number of claims has increased by more than 100% since 1996?

  • MainlandUlsterman

    I agree in general on your criticisms of welfare reform – we’re right to be skeptical – but the figures do matter. We have a very different debate on welfare reform if we have to find £450m in savings versus £80m in savings, let alone 2/6. There are principles to be debated on how to allocate welfare, but whatever the outcome, the point is we apply those principles to the budget available. SF gets away with playing fast and loose with the facts on the Troubles, but the stupid, evasive untruth of their ‘everyone’s perspective is equally valid’ approach to questions of fact is shown up for all its ludicrosity here on economics. These guys are flakes.

    They should stick to writing bad poetry and weeping for the patriot dead, and leave running the country to grown-ups who live in the real world.

    We’d all love there to be more money but there isn’t at the moment. All the major parties are clear on that, all the economic commentators, even on the left, are clear about it. There have to be some cuts – just not as drastic as the Tories pretend, because they have an ideologically-driven, artificial goal of getting to a zero deficit (this despite cocking up the economy for 2-3 years – unbelievable that they are now touting their economic management as some kind of success story. We are growing fast because we sank so low under their stewardship, having thrown away the recovery that was building in 2010 under Brown).

  • MainlandUlsterman

    I agree. They’re not really interested in the serious business of running the province. They get excited about identity and nationality issues – don’t we all – but their heart’s just not in it when it comes to economics or governance. There’s a dearth of experience too – do any of them have serious business or economics backgrounds? I think they prefer the fluffy stuff. I can sympathise but really they need to stand back and let the grown-ups get on with it.

  • Morpheus

    No comment?

  • MainlandUlsterman

    They must be cursing the day they set eyes on the real world. It’s got hard stuff where you need to remember things accurately, work things out … playing soldiers was much more fun

  • MainlandUlsterman

    They must be cursing the day they set eyes on the real world. It’s got hard stuff where you need to remember things accurately, work things out … playing soldiers was much more fun

  • Comrade Stalin

    Morpheus,

    On the subject of suicides, repossessions, job losses and all that.

    With the proposed cuts in place the level of public spending in Northern Ireland will still be substantially above what it was in 2007-08 (even allowing for inflation). In 2012 the numbers you posted show that we spent £3.5bn more than we did back then, and I imagine the figures for the current year are even higher. Almost all of that increase was paid for by increases in the subvention, almost certainly to pay for higher welfare costs and offset the effect of reduced tax take due to the recession.

    Let’s take the £750m as read for a second. If we chop that off the public spending bill we are not even back at the level where we were in 2007.

    Now stop me if I’m wrong here, but I remember 2007 pretty well, it wasn’t very long ago. Somehow, back then, we managed to survive with £3.5bn less being spent than you are claiming that we need now in order to stop widespread hardship and pain. Why ?

    BTW there are limitations to debating the subvention. As I said most of that increase was paid for by increases in the subvention. It is natural that as tax revenue increases and unemployment falls (both of which are happening), with all other things assumed equal the size of the subvention will drop even if public spending rises, due to increased tax revenue.