Saturday, 6 March 2010

Sloppy Question - Sloppy Answer

On 3rd March Stewart Jackson (Shadow Minister, Communities and Local Government; Peterborough, Conservative) posed the question: "To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how much funding (a) his Department and (b) the Regional Efficiency Improvement Partnership have given to the Waste Improvement Network in each year since its inception; and what the forecast level of funding by each is for (i) 2009-10, (ii) 2010-11 and (iii) 2011-12."

Rosie Winterton (Minister of State (Yorkshire and the Humber), Department for Communities and Local Government; Doncaster Central, Labour) replied: "The Department has not provided funding directly to the Waste Improvement Network (WIN), nor has it any plans to do so in the future. Regional Improvement and Efficiency Partnerships (RIEPs) report to the Department on the basis of outcomes achieved and objectives delivered; they are not required to report in detail about to whom they have given money. However, we are aware that WIN was established by the predecessor to the South East RIEP in 2006-07 with funding of £89,700, and that forecast investment by them is as follows: 2009-10: £15,000, 2010-11: £15,000."

Bearing in mind the question was raised by a shadow minister from the party that comprises the official opposition, had he known his subject or done some simple research he would have discovered that the Waste Improvement Network (WIN) is a national project run through the Regional Improvement and Efficiency Partnerships (RIEPs)and therefore is not funded directly by central government.

Bearing in mind that RIEPs were set up in 2008 with an initial funding of £185million from the Department of Communities and Local Government (DCLG) and that Rosie Winterton has released £68million (part, I hope, of the £185million!) it is inconceivable that RIEPs do not have to account to whom they give, what is, taxpayer's money! What is obvious is that whilst the DCLG does not directly fund WIN, it does so indirectly, so whilst Rosie Winterton did not lie - neither did she tell the truth!

Attempts to access the website and Annual Reports of the South East RIEP are fruitless as the link does not work! When accessing the report on the key achievements of RIEPs for year one the first question that springs to mind is who the bloody hell writes this crap and what, exactly, does it mean! Accessing the Waste Improvement Network website is also impossible, again, because the bloody link does not work!

One has to ask just WTF is going on here! In the hope of discovering some answers an email has been sent to the 'contact' for my region, the South East, asking a few pertinent questions! Perhaps others may wish to do the same for their regions? Oh, and a question for the leader of Her Majesty's Official Opposition - is this lot going to be 'swept away'? If that is the case, presumably there is going to be one hell of a lot of P45 handed out resulting in unemployment benefit rising and where is that little financial matter, involving once again taxpayer's money, factored into the Conservative's plans?

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