One of the topics I’ll be speaking on at this year’s party conference is Financial Inclusion, at an event organised by the Co-op Party. It’s on the Monday night. I have just received a response from the Treasury to a written question about financial inclusion that I asked on 1st February 2011, nearly eight months ago. Some babies are made and born quicker than that!
My actual question was this: “pursuant to the answer of 31st January, Official Report, Column 580W on the Financial Inclusion Fund, when will the Government make a decision on future funding for projects currently funded by the Financial Inclusion Fund, and will this decision be made before 31st March 2011?”
The question now unsurprisingly appears without the last part – ‘ will this decision be made before 31st March 2011’ – presumably so as not to embarrass the department which is, er, answering this question on 5th September. Christine Lagarde has today warned that the Chancellor needs to be ‘nimble’. As in ‘Jack be nimble, Jack be quick…’? Not much evidence of that from George.
When Government departments take a long time to answer Qs – and the Treasury is notoriously bad – MPs can table another Q, asking when they can expect an answer to the first one. Last time I did this though, they finally got their act together to answer the first Q and then two months later replied to my follow-up, saying ‘we answered that two months ago’. Which is, frankly, a bit useless and makes it look as if it’s the MP who’s asking a stupid question rather than the Department giving a stupid answer.
Full question and answer here:
Kerry McCarthy: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer pursuant to the answer of 31 January 2011, Official Report, column 580W, on the Financial Inclusion Fund, when he expects to announce his decision on the future funding of projects currently funded by the Financial Inclusion Fund 
Mr Hoban: The Financial Inclusion Fund was always due to close in March 2010, with individual programmes being taken forward by individual Government Departments including the Credit Union Modernisation Fund and the continuation of funding for debt advice this financial year ahead of the Money Advice Service taking on the delivery of this from March 2012.