Despite once being one of the world’s ‘superpowers’, or indeed ruling over around 23% of the world’s total population, the United Kingdom is now facing some heavy times. Infrastructure budget cuts, political instability, Brexit (and the expected ’buy-out’ fee of £50bn) and financial cuts means that ‘Great Britain’ could now be better known as ‘Alright on a good day Britain’.
But what do these cuts mean to the Average Joe?
Despite spending being on the increase, the road networks are beginning to fail. Road mending crews are doing little more than applying a Band-Aid to all but the most serious of damage or wear, this has been sold to the public as ‘trying to keep everything flowing’ but the reality is somewhat different.
It’s true that there’s an element of traffic flow to the repairs, but in real-terms, the budget is less than it was 5 years ago thanks to inflation. While the major routes and networks are constantly under improvement or widening, the smaller routes are suffering big.
Government money is available to help local councils with repairs and maintenance, but it falls to that local council to take care of the roads under their jurisdiction, and not all councils have the available money to spare to even start the process. Local taxation is on the increase, while services (including road mending) are on the decrease, as councils fight to survive.
Spending on transportation (and all associated sub-categories) is on the up, but you should understand that the UK has one of the most heavily-taxed automotive industries in the world.
Your average motorist pays tax TWICE on any fuel used to power their car (petrol price + tax + VAT) and on top of that, they pay a further Vehicle Excise Duty (or road tax) – for £100 of gas, £61 (on average) goes to the government as taxation, that doesn’t include VED.
Plans are in place to run a high-speed rail link to join up the North & South parts of the country, but costs have rocketed over the last seven years. Initially, the pricetag was in the region of £32bn, that has since escalated to above and beyond the £56bn mark, and it’s the tax payer that is footing the bill.
Each and every local council (local government) has a ‘Spend to Save’ budget, meaning that if in the longer-term they’ll save money, they can afford to buy services or goods and offset them against that budget. However, that is at the cost of a number of other services; many local councils are closing down public libraries, senior-citizen care homes or other ‘non-essential’ facilities.
It has reached the point that a number of local community groups are now asking to volunteer to run these public services, for no other reason than they believe that they’re a vital part of community life. You want free access to a public library so that your son or daughter can borrow books? Put your money where your mouth is and step-up to volunteer!
All this is of course before any monies are paid out to the European Union, for the UK having the cheek to want to leave. Times are hard, money is tighter than ever, but the majority of the UK population wanted to leave the EU, so they are forging ahead to make that happen.
Will that have an effect on the budget cuts and available money? You bet it will, but the nation has spoken, and the politicians must follow, unless they want to make that career ending decision to oppose the popular vote.
Gone are the days of being able to function without a thought of how the money is spent, government and councils now need to plan their infrastructure budgets to the last penny, making them more accountable to the public, which can only be a good thing.
The UK still has cases of politicians claiming expenses for all manner of dubious things – clearing their moat (yes really!) for example, but when it comes to public spending, their wallets are firmly shut.
Author’s bio: Giles Kirkland is a dedicated car expert with passion for all things automotive. His most recent interests revolve around financial aspects of the car industry. He enjoys commenting on money-related affairs, sharing his knowledge with other motor enthusiasts, and giving advice on money saving.