Mark Andrews on Saturday – Drab buildings, British understatement, and why Boris had better deliver on social care

The snappily named Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government is soon to move in to the shiny new i9 building next to Wolverhampton railway station.

MPs Stuart Anderson and Eddie Hughes celebrate the new government offices in Wolverhampton
MPs Stuart Anderson and Eddie Hughes celebrate the new government offices in Wolverhampton

I say shiny, it isn't really. It is actually a rather drab brown building, the sort of dull, featureless architecture that characterised 1920s Detroit. I can only assume it is what is fashionable at the moment.

But it's not just Wolverhampton that is getting new government offices. The Treasury is also opening an office in Darlington, and it will be great to see civil servants getting experience of real Britain rather than being ensconced in the Whitehall bubble.

But will they. As we speak, the Treasury has already started advertising jobs where people will be able to work from home, and business minister Kwarsi Karteng said 'flexible working is here to stay'. What will be the point of having all these new government offices if hardly anybody is actually working in them?

* * *

Understatement of the week.

A family fled in their pyjamas after an articulated lorry smashed through the front of their house.

Reports said the incident happened after a "domestic row escalated".

That's a delicate way of putting it. Let's just hope it never "gets out of hand".

* * *

The Government has probably made the best of a bad job with the proposed 1.25 per cent National Insurance rise to pay for the rising cost of adult social care.

Ask the public if more money should be spent on any worthy cause, and the answer is invariably 'yes'. But ask where the extra funds should come from, they will inevitably say 'somebody else'.

Social care funding is in a parlous state, no doubt about that. And if it costs us an extra few hundred quid a year to fund a dignified old age, I suspect most of us will grudgingly pay up.

But the pressure is now on to deliver. If, three years from now, the average punter has had a grand or more lifted from their pay packets with no tangible improvement in care levels, Boris is going to have a lot of explaining to do.

* * *

What does feel like an act of political suicide, though, is breaking the manifesto pledge not to raise taxes. Given that successive governments have been dithering about this one for decades, couldn't it have waited until the next General Election, when it an be put ot the vote for a legitimate mandate?

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