The government’s top 30 “real achievements”

by Michael Dugher

Back in July, after a torrid few months for the government following their budget for millionaires and with Britain in a double-dip recession, David Cameron and Nick Clegg responded the way they always do: they organised another press re-launch.  At the event held at a railway depot at Smethwick in the West Midlands, they announced that the Government would publish a mid-term review in the autumn outlining what they had “achieved” and identifying future goals and objectives.

So following the party conference season, and with the imminent publication of this review, it seems a good time to look back over the last two years to assess what the government has really achieved and to outline what its real half-term report should look like.  Here are the government’s top 30 real achievements:

On the economy:

1. When the Tories took office the economy was growing, but the government’s policies choked off the recovery and have delivered the longest double-dip recession since the second world war;

2. The IMF has cut its UK growth forecast for 2012 to minus 0.4 per cent;

3. Borrowing is up.  Compared to last year, borrowing is up by 22 per cent so far this year;

4. Tax cuts for the rich – the government is cutting 5p from the 50p top rate tax, giving 8,000 people earning over £1 million a tax cut of over £40,000 a year;

5. And at the same time as helping millionaires, the government is introducing a “granny tax”, which will see 4.4 million pensioners who pay income tax losing an average of £83 per year.

On unemployment:

6. Over 950,000 young people are now unemployed;

7. The number of 18 to 24 year olds who have been claiming Jobs Seekers’ Allowance for more than twelve months has more than tripled in the last year;

8. Over a million women are unemployed and women make up the majority of the increase in long-term unemployment since the election.

On changes to tax and benefits hitting families:

9. A family with children is losing an average of £511 from changes coming into force this year;

10. The government’s VAT rise is costing families with children £450 a year;

11. Some families will now be better off on benefits than in work due to the cuts to tax credits.

On supporting businesses:

12. The government has failed to get the banks’ lending to small businesses. The banks missed their project Merlin target for small businesses and net lending to businesses has fallen by over £10 billion in the last year;

13. Only £60m of the government’s flagship £1.4bn regional growth fund has so far been released to businesses on the front line.

On the cost of living:

14. Soaring energy bills are hurting families and pensioners, but ministers have failed to break the dominance of the big xix and overhaul the energy market in order to deliver fair prices for all;

15. Families with children are paying more than twice as much as the banks to reduce the deficit.

On the NHS:

16. The government has introduced real-terms cuts to the NHS for two years running at the same time as implementing an unnecessary £3 billion top-down reorganisation;

17. 5,501 nurses have been cut from the NHS since the government took office

18. Over £1 billion is being taken out of social care for elderly and disabled people;

19. The number of people waiting more than four hours in A&E has doubled;

20. And public satisfaction with the NHS has seen its largest fall since 1997.

On education:

21. Despite Lib Dem promises before the election, the government has tripled tuition fees to £9,000 a year.

22. University applications from UK students for courses starting this year are down by 8.9 per cent on last year;

23. Public spending on education in the UK is falling at the fastest rate since the 1950s;

24. 735 school building projects have been cancelled with the scrapping of Building Schools for the Future.

25. The education maintenance allowance has been scrapped and the number of 16-18 year olds staying on in education is down for the first time in a decade;

26. The early intervention grant, which funds Sure Start, has been cut by £1.4 billion;

27. And with the re-introduction of O-Levels, the government is risking a return to an out-dated, two-tier system which left thousands of children on the scrap heap at the age of 16.

On police and border security:

28. 6,771 front-line police officers have been cut already, and at least 15,000 police officers are set to be cut by 2015;

29. Nearly 900 staff have been cut from the UK border force and we’ve already had a border fiasco after which the home secretary said “we will never know” how many people entered the country without proper checks;

30. The number of foreign criminals deported has fallen year on year since the election.

And the list could go on and on.  Many things have not been touched upon, like: a cash for access scandal with David Cameron’s chief fundraiser offering dinner for donors at Downing Street; the sacking of soldiers by email; aircraft carriers without aircraft; Andrew Mitchell effing and blinding at police officers; and the shambolic handling of the west coast railway contract that will cost taxpayers £40 million.

In 2010, the Tories and the Lib Dems spent most of their time attacking Labour’s record.  But now Cameron and Clegg have a record all of their own.  They promised change, but things have got worse not better.  As Ed Miliband has said, ministers may think they were born to rule, but the truth is they are just not very good at it.

Michael Dugher is Labour MP for Barnsley East and shadow minister without portfolio

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10 Responses to “The government’s top 30 “real achievements””

  1. Nick says:

    tax cuts aren’t giving people money.

    It’s not taking it in the first place.

    As an MP, that makes you a liar.

  2. BenM says:

    ***standing ovation***

  3. john p Reid says:

    Regarding the Police officers being cut, seeing as Both Theresa May and Boris both said the opposite at the Tory Conference, shouldn’t they be pushed to apologise for this?

  4. Tris says:

    Are these figures for England, or the UK?

  5. Jane says:

    Strange that you did not mention the recent report from the IMF which indicated that our structural deficit (political decision making) was some £38bn more than thought. Interesting too that ed Balls stated there was no structural deficit.

    I do not find this article helpful given the state of the country’s finances.

    1. School buildings have not deteriorated in two years – you were in charge for thirteen.

    2. The NHS has been a mess throughout my lifetime despite huge funding. Try living in my part of the country! I acknowldge that nurse numbers are down but overall the number of medical staff employed is not. In additon, I find using this statistic meaningless and just for political gain. As a percentage oif the total workforce it is insignificant being around 1%. Further, it is a matter for local trusts how many staff they need in each field. In my area they have dramatically reduced the length of hospital stay which may explain changes. Reading the trust papers I also note there is a concerted effort regarding short term sickness levels. Another measure which may provide some reasoning. I am for the new NHS Bill. I have lived in other countries and I can assure you received much better care that I ever have had from the NHS. We have centres of excellence but not all citizens have good quality care. I would suggest you look at the CQC Reports over the past years before you start blaming the current government.

    3. The “granny tax” (I am not a granny) affected me. However, Gordon Brown removing the 10p tax band caused me a greater loss. I lost £200 and this was reduced to £100 after Alastair Darlings’ intervention.

    4. During the past decade a culture developed which removed personal responsibility for providing for ones family. All unskilled workers with families are better off on benefits. Successive Labour Work and Pensions Ministers said this. you know quite well that the present government is carryiny on with reforms that Labour started and planned.

    5. Do not tell me about Banks. Gordon Brown set up the regulatory system which failed abysmally. I read Vince Cable’s testimony to a select Committtee and he clearly said that the government had done and was continuing to do all possible to increase bank lending. Merlin has failed true. But so has credit demand gone down as well as standards of lending going up. It was much too easy to borrow money before the financial meltdown so it us understandable that Banks are more cautious. Their policies got us into the mess.

    6. Unemployment. I read yesterday that our rate of unemployment was less than during the boom years. Was this report wrong? Youth unemployment is awful but Labour too had high rates and was doing everything possible to force young people into schemes. David Miliband has covered this subject very well. On the psoitive side many countries in Europe would love to have our rate….

    7. Don’t forget that Labour brought in tuition Fees. As to less people applying – quite right too. Setting a target of 50% was stupid. I read a report the other day about the high number of graduates unemployed. Many of these studied subjects such as media studies knowing that work would be impossible to gain in this field. There are too many silly courses at degree level these days. Young people who pursued further education in fields without any realistic prospect of a job are now considering it is not worth the money. This is inevitable. Nevertheless, research from other countries suggests that fees do not deter young people from university education. Why do you not discuss alternate ways of gaining professional qulaifications that do not entail high cost university education. Why do you not acknowledge that some universities (the ones were applications are down) are poor?

    We have fallen down the world league of education attainment and our exam system has been diminished with the high numbers of passes at the top grades. We all know that modules has contributed to this, too many examining boards, a dumbing down of exams etc etc. Our rate of illiteracy has not improved, we have some 25% of our schools coasting. We read of pupils moving to secondary school not able to read and universities having to provide remedial help to undergraduates. We read of employers who despair at standards and wonder what is happening in our schools. If we are to compete internationally change is necessary. You must know this…..

    Education maintenance allowance was not targetted. We should increase the present fund or give money to in stitutions to target the resosuce on this in greater need.

    8. You have totally failed to acknowledge the hard work undertaken within Europe by the UK to enable us to remove offenders. An agreement was reached in December 2011 which will assist in reducing numbers for EU citizens. You need to be very careful in trying to pin the number of foreign prisoners on the current government. The last government lost control of immigration and foreign prisoners – do you remember that? We are signatories to the HRA and are not permitted to remove prisoners if their HR are in danger. We all hate this but it is a fact of life. You may also recall that Charles Clarke had to resign over the issue? I would like to look at the amount of compensation paid to foreign prisoners over the past 10 years too for keeping them in prison. You did not acknowledge the number of people on student visas remaining in the country and the abuse of the system. Many of these people end up in prison.

    9. As to police numbers I can only refer you to the excellent Home Affairs Select Committee Report about the police undertaken by the last government. I would also refer you to some excellent reports by the police inspectorate as well as the recent report by Tom Winsor. Police budgets increased dramatically during the last government. In addition, we increased street cautions, fixed penalty cases for cases once dealt with my the Magistrates Courts. We increased police numbers too. Yet sanctioned detection rates remained low as the Select Committee Report indicated. We threw resources at the police without reform too. We all know that the last government tinkered with the police and as seen now they knew the backlash would be awful. Crime is falling in my area and my Chief Constable has reorganised beat area so we now see more police around. We pay Police Management a lot of money and for too long their hands have been tied in managing their resources(Winsor). They cannot apparently change shifts etc without the approval of the Police Fed. We can manage with less officers – we do not need warranted officers for the many tasks they currently do. What we need is better management of resources etc etc. Read Winsor.

    10. I read recently that by reducing the 50p tax rate to 45p the government received greater revenue. Is this not true? I also read that Alastair Darling (wonderful man) stated he was opposed to the 50p tax rate for this reason but was forced to introduce it for political reasons as demanded by Gordon Brown. Am I wrong in this belief?

    Perhaps in your next article you could advise us on the areas that you would cut back on? Perhaps you could tell us about the debt left by the last government as I am sure no politician from whatever political persuasion wants to make such dreadful decisions. Could you also explain why despite all the ghastly economic news (yes we are affected by global markets) that your financial spokespeople are not trusted by the electorate.

  6. BenM says:


    Balls is right. there is no “structural” deficit.

    The “structural” deficit is a slippery concept that requires some heroic assumptions to calculate. Note, the Telegraph was reporting Treasury calculations.

    A deficit is a deficit is a deficit and fixating over part of it for political ends (which is all a “structural” deficit is there to do) leads to bad policymaking – as we are now seeing with this rotten government as it fritters away massive opportunities to invest in the country to get it going again..

  7. john P reid says:

    1 were to start ,it’s 2 and half years since the colation and the complete lack of investment in schools has already began to show ,with some great holes appearing,

    2,3,4,5 can’t fault that

    6 even though unemployment fell it’s because peopel are forced into part time work,it’s also there are more jobs, doens’t mean there aren’t more unemployed,I’ve started to notice more homeless, they aren’t part of the records of those without jobs, something that didn’t happen under labour,

    7 8 can’t fault it

    9 there were huge police reforms SOCO ,socpa, PCSo’s , Mcpherson report, change from 30 years to 35 year contracts, inspectors getting no overtime, salaried increases for good work resulting in the 1.8% pay increase in 2007 rather than the 3% as previous years, and yes we did plough money into things thats why crime fell by 45%, you say there was no reform yet you metnion the things we introdcued like majistrate giving fines and Fixed penatly notices in the street.

    10 can’t fault it

  8. Jane says:


    Thank you. Like you I have noticed more homeless in my rural area! Regrettably they are economic migrants and we are all working as a community to offer assistance. As to police reform – yes there were many changes for the better including fixed penalty notices (decriminalising some offences) etc. We gave huge pay awards to change a few conditions of service such as overtime for Inspectors etc. (Did the same with GP contracts) However, we failed to amend changes to rank and file conditions as outlined in the Winsor Report. Crime reduction was as a result of the decriminalisation of many offences by fixed penalty, lowering of thresholds of some offences, better technology in car manufacturing (harder to break into), as well as many other areas of improvement in our communities. The Home Affairs Select Committee Report points all this out and bemoaned that even with improved budgets, technology etc but no difference in police performance in detection rates etc which is the only way we can assess performance.

    Oh well – the writer of the article just made a whole load of partial political points without balance which were meant to make us feel good. I just feel a bit insulted as no government regardless of political persuasion always makes the right decisions. I just have to read political memoirs – and even those who held high office acknowledge mistakes. Mr Dugher insults my intelligence by penning this article.

    thank you again for your balanced comment…..

  9. Jane says:


    I am not an expert on the economy but take the FT. i kept an article on the meaning of deficit so here is my understanding:

    Deficit —inbalance in government receipts and expenditure

    gov budget deficit – gov spends more than received in tax revenue.

    Structural deficit = gov budget deficit goes on for a period of time.

    My understanding is that when we were elected in 2007, we developed plans to spend on health, education etc etc.. At the same time, the economy started declining – exports, investment by companies etc Gordon Brown stuck to spending plans despite this so the government filled the the gap in economic activity and they run a deficit to do this. This continued throughout the period in government – even before the financial meltdown. As a result when the crisis hit, the UK had a larger deficit than comparable countries. The IMf has just reported that our structural deficit was miscalculated in 2007. They said that it stood at 5.2% or £73bn and not £35 bn as previously stated. At the same time France had a 3% deficit and Germany 1.1%.

    There is no doubt that we were borrowing too much to keep economic activity going. I have no problems with this, if I could see huge changes in the services we get. Many have improved but not as much as they should have done given the amount of money we invested. We have dropped in educational standards compared to other countries, we have poorer detection rates for cancer and our survival rates for many illnesses remain poor. An example of investment shows were we made mistakes. Our GPs are the highest paid in Europe – over 50% more than in France (where I lived for a time). In giving them higher incomes we allowed them to reduce their service to the public by allowing them to opt out of 24 hour cover. Where is the sense in this?

    You must forgive me but I do not believe, trust nor like Ed Balls. I have no truck with anyone who worked with Gordon Brown.

  10. Vern says:

    With this sort of political insight and grasp of current world affairs lets hope that Mr Dugher never holds a position of responsibility-or until he has recieved some training that is!

    presumably its time for Dughers Plan B-Spend, spend, spend-this should solve everything-we dont require a credible business plan (Balls would not know how to construct one anyhow).Who cares if we dont have any money……..

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