Forget the Tories: We want a Vietnamese government

Here’s an interesting statistic: Our dear government is spending our money at the rate of £9.57 per hour for every working man and woman in Britain*. That’s twice the National Minimum Wage. Think of it, a burger-flipper earns £4.50 per hour and Gordon spends a further £9.57. A dear government indeed. But do not despair, the Tories have promised to bring that down to £9.11 per hour by 2006**. Hooray for them.

How do we compare with other countries? The on-line CIA World Fact Book*** is a wealth of interesting information. Their figure for the UK government budget is a lowly US$540 billion at the then exchange rate, but the same factors apply to budgets for the other countries too. So dividing that budget by the number of workers employed in each country**** gives us a comparative figure for the burden of government in that country, as shown in this table of selected countries:


Country Annual cost of the state in $US per worker
Italy Germany UK USA France Japan Taiwan Thailand Philippines China India Vietnam $24,000 $21,800 $19,100 $15,400 $13,600 $11,200 $3,800 $650 $495 $480 $210 $195

We are not the dearest in the world, which is a surprise, but we’re way more expensive than many other countries in the world where we face competition from cheap labour. Now, why do we think some of these other countries like India or Vietnam can be so competitive on labour costs? According to these figures from the CIA, the UK government spends 98 times as much as the Vietnamese government per worker. So while this country has the burden of £9.57 per hour for every employee in work, in Vietnam that burden is only 9.8p.

Is it any wonder we can’t compete?

* Treasury figures show that the total number of hours worked is 904 million per week. For a budget spend of 450 billion pounds, that works out at £9.57 per hour. ** From 42% of GDP to 40% *** **** Workforce reduce by the unemployment level