Managing Director H Forman & Son Lance Forman wants politicians to speak in real monetary terms


- Credit: Archant

Unless they’re having a go at millionaire fat cats, politicians rarely speak in millions nowadays; it’s usually billions, sometimes trillions and will soon become squillions, gazillions and the like. It’s hardly surprising, people don’t understand or get turned off by politicians, no one can really conceive what these numbers mean.

Average household pay in the UK now sits at around £770 per week or £500 per week after tax. We understand the value of things when we talk in pounds and pence. It’s quite interesting when politicians are asked how much a loaf of bread costs or a box of eggs, they don’t have a clue, yet spend a few extra billion here or there on a rail project and they can tell you it’s money well spent.

To put government spending into perspective I have set out what it spends but calculated per household per week. If your household only has £500 a week to spend, is this how you would spend it?

The spend on climate change works out about 10p per week per household. Not a lot. Compare this to the amount estimated for us to be in the European Union, some studies have shown this to be around £65billion or around £45 per household per week.

Now for those mathemeticians questioning how the government can spend £474, when it only collects £270 in tax and national insurance, the balance is paid for through other taxes like VAT and corporation tax, fuel duty etc and then they borrow the rest; which is why each household is paying £32 per week to pay off the government’s debts, let alone our own debts.

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Next time you hear a politician talking in billions drop the word billion and take 70 per cent of the number left and that will tell you how much it works out per household per week. So £10 billion on the Olympics in 2012, cost us all about £7 per week over a year; a bit more than the ‘‘walnut whip per week’’ promised by former Mayor Ken Livingstone but around the same price as a pack of Forman’s smoked salmon. I know which I’d rather have!

Wouldn’t it be great if politicians spoke in numbers we could understand, then perhaps not only we, but they too may have a better understanding of how they spend our hard earned money.

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