Advent-ures in the MSE Forum... Our Advent calendar is live, helping you discover a new corner of the community each day. Visit the homepage and scroll down

'A warning to Mr. Cameron: information alone doesn’t solve a problem' blog discussion

edited 9 November 2010 at 12:33PM in Martin's blogs & appearances & MoneySavingExpert in the news
18 replies 2.4K views
This is the discussion to link on the back of Martin's blog. Please read the blog first, as this discussion follows it.

Please click 'post reply' to discuss below.
«1

Replies

  • ErrataErrata Forumite
    38.2K Posts
    10,000 Posts Combo Breaker
    How about some constructive criticism? What should the government do to enable people to understand what it's getting up to in their name?
    .................:)....I'm smiling because I have no idea what's going on ...:)
  • edited 9 November 2010 at 12:56PM
    MSE_MartinMSE_Martin MoneySaving Expert
    8.3K Posts
    Forumite
    edited 9 November 2010 at 12:56PM
    Errata wrote: »
    How about some constructive criticism? What should the government do to enable people to understand what it's getting up to in their name?

    It is constructive criticism. Its a warning that the information in isolation isn't enough - we need to encourage appropriate scrutiny from official bodies who understand the mechanisms of government.

    One of the problems is these bodies are being closed (e.g. the Audit Commission - not perfect but along the right lines) - the two in conjunction is what worries me.
    Martin Lewis, Money Saving Expert.
    Please note, answers don't constitute financial advice, it is based on generalised journalistic research. Always ensure any decision is made with regards to your own individual circumstance.
    Don't miss out on urgent MoneySaving, get my weekly e-mail at www.moneysavingexpert.com/tips.
    Debt-Free Wannabee Official Nerd Club: (Honorary) Members number 000
  • And precisely.

    Excellent commentary, I hope and pray they take note. If not, they are not serving us, they are serving some other need or focus. Which is not what we vote a government in for!

    We need succinct, clear explanation, for very few have time or energy to read reams of information.

    Overloaded and stressed brains just cannot physically or mentally absorb more than a few minutes' reading.

    The same thing goes for the tariffs for phone and utilities. The array of choice is so bewildering as to seem a deliberate obfuscation of the facts. We just cannot decipher which is the best choice so we may as well have none. And yes, there are comparison sites but few have their old bills to hand with the information needed to make comparison accurate.
  • trf197trf197 Forumite
    26 Posts
    Part of the Furniture Combo Breaker
    Forumite
    MSE_Martin wrote: »
    It is constructive criticism. Its a warning that the information in isolation isn't enough - we need to encourage appropriate scrutiny from official bodies who understand the mechanisms of government.

    One of the problems is these bodies are being closed (e.g. the National Audit office - not perfect but along the right lines) - the two in conjunction is what worries me.

    But we have newspapers and other journalists who can scrutinise such things and provide accountability or criticism if the data is available (in the same way that you provide accountability in the financial areas you mentioned in the original blog post). Why does it need to be an official body?
  • ErrataErrata Forumite
    38.2K Posts
    10,000 Posts Combo Breaker
    MSE_Martin wrote: »
    It is constructive criticism. Its a warning that the information in isolation isn't enough - we need to encourage appropriate scrutiny from official bodies who understand the mechanisms of government.

    One of the problems is these bodies are being closed (e.g. the National Audit office - not perfect but along the right lines) - the two in conjunction is what worries me.

    Taking the NAO as an example, it's difficult to place any trust in a report on PFI when often the media reports that maintenance, eg light bulb replacement, excessive costs bear little relation to the work done.
    "Our examination of PFI hospital contracts indicates that most are well-managed and achieving the value for money originally envisaged. This is a positive result. In the longer term, Trusts will need support from the Department of Health to ensure that the current good performance is maintained, that efficiencies are sought and that an appropriate share of benefit comes back to the public sector."
    Amyas Morse, head of the National Audit Office, 17 June 2010
    .................:)....I'm smiling because I have no idea what's going on ...:)
  • MSE_MartinMSE_Martin MoneySaving Expert
    8.3K Posts
    Forumite
    trf197 wrote: »
    But we have newspapers and other journalists who can scrutinise such things and provide accountability or criticism if the data is available (in the same way that you provide accountability in the financial areas you mentioned in the original blog post). Why does it need to be an official body?

    That's exactly my point.

    Of course we looka t some things - but I'm commonly berated in these forums for not taking on issue X or issue Y or Z etc. The media can and should help in this, though of course on many issues media born hysteria can confuse and make things more difficult, drawing focus away from the smaller issues that matter.

    The media and the public can do some of this. Yet without formal checks and balances in the system much will be missed.

    Its also interesting to note people here often write to me (even on the strangest subjects unrelated to moneysaving) urging me to do something - sort the politicians out - make a policy change.

    Yet I have no formal route to do that, no way to complain, no one to go to more than most people. Yes I have some connections but without the actual checks in the system that can impact the executive and can't be ignored I worry the system won't work.

    I hope to be proved wrong.
    Martin Lewis, Money Saving Expert.
    Please note, answers don't constitute financial advice, it is based on generalised journalistic research. Always ensure any decision is made with regards to your own individual circumstance.
    Don't miss out on urgent MoneySaving, get my weekly e-mail at www.moneysavingexpert.com/tips.
    Debt-Free Wannabee Official Nerd Club: (Honorary) Members number 000
  • edited 9 November 2010 at 1:01PM
    southlundonsouthlundon Forumite
    10 Posts
    edited 9 November 2010 at 1:01PM
    MSE_Martin wrote: »
    It is constructive criticism. Its a warning that the information in isolation isn't enough - we need to encourage appropriate scrutiny from official bodies who understand the mechanisms of government.

    One of the problems is these bodies are being closed (e.g. the National Audit office - not perfect but along the right lines) - the two in conjunction is what worries me.

    Hi Martin - it's the Audit Commission which is being abolished, not the NAO.

    I worked for the AC until 3 years ago and my husband still works there. All the criticism of the body was really about the 'centre' which wrote studies etc. Approx 75% of the staff did the day-to-day auditing of the figures, sitting in broom cupboards in councils across the UK. They are professionally qualified chartered accountants with years of experience. I'm sorry to say but Joe and Joanne Bloggs won't understand a lot of the information being put out in the name of 'transparency' and it's going to become one big mess.

    The sort of people who ask questions of councils and hospitals are generally retired gentlemen along the lines of Disgusted of Tunbridge Wells. In my current job I receive questions from them relating to public sector accounts and their misunderstanding of the way it works causes a lot of extra work and stress for me and my colleagues - as it does in councils and hospitals across the UK. I'm all for accountability - that's why I became a highly-trained public sector auditor in the first place - but it's not just looking up how much your local council spent on biscuits for staff meetings in one year; there are more difficult and highly complex funding decisions which take place every day and are scrutinised by the appropriate people.

    And as for the way in which this information is going to be put out there - who wants to trawl through a load of statistics? I know I don't after a day's work doing similar things so why would an ordinary member of the public want to - unless they have a particular grudge to bear?

    Oh don't get me started on the press. They have simply regurgitated the lies put out there by Eric Pickles about the Audit Commission without any journalistic checking. Even last week the Telegraph (who you'd think would know better) spouted a load of rubbish about something it deemed had been misspent but was actually extremely important for the UK's standing in the eyes of public sector accounting professionals worldwide (and which had been planned for years). I might start by saying why is the Gov't wasting billions on the Olympics when it's cutting welfare budgets by billions too - but noone would listen.
  • I work in the financial services sector as an insurance broker and am subject to the requirements to provide a huge amount of information to clients who, on the whole, have no interest in receiving this information. This may be right or it may be wrong but it is not achieving what the regulators want. It serves only to over beurocratise the process and provide paperwork to argue over when it is too late.

    Education is needed yes, but simplification would mean less information and education would be needed in the first place.

    Problem is, there is a huge industry grown up around regulation and it is not in anyones interest, except of course the public, to simplyfy.
    I am a professional insurance adviser. My opinions are based on my knowledge and experience. Many of the opinions expressed here will be based on limited information and may not be suitable solutions for all. My strong advice will usually be to seek a professional opinion from a quality insurance broker. See BIBA for a local professional member.
  • Ken68Ken68 Forumite
    6.8K Posts
    Part of the Furniture 1,000 Posts Energy Saving Champion Home Insurance Hacker!
    This sort of thing happened in John Major's government in 1994. It lasted just a few months then was pulled. Mentioned this morning Radio 4. Today.

    http://www.opengovjournal.org/article/viewArticle/994
  • edited 9 November 2010 at 3:04PM
    jamesdjamesd Forumite
    25.8K Posts
    Part of the Furniture 10,000 Posts Name Dropper
    edited 9 November 2010 at 3:04PM
    Interesting that Lloyds says "Advance Credit Card Our Advance MasterCard® Credit Card is your perfect shopping partner". Just when does a claim to be perfect for shopping made for a card that is one of the worst shopping cards available in the UK become a deliberate attempt to mislead consumers?

    Is there any card in the UK that is worse for shopping? I'm wondering whether the claim to be perfect is being made for the worst card in the market.
This discussion has been closed.
Latest MSE News and Guides

Is your local HSBC closing?

114 branches to shut in 2023

MSE News

Advent Competitions

The countdown is on

MSE Forum

Baileys £10 for 1L at Tesco

When you scan your Clubcard

MSE Deals