The government is still refusing to guarantee corporate investments in Iceland’s failed banks, despite up to 74 local authorities having merrily thrown up to £1bn of hard-pressed council down the Icelandic financial toilet without bothering to listen to any of the numerous and increasingly-strident warnings of the last few months.
Many police authorities, fire brigades, hospital trusts and charities are also coming to regret their decisions to blow their funds at the Iceland casino, rather than spending them on providing services to the public.
As heads of finance departments across Britain scratched their heads trying to come up with a plausible excuse to feed their committees, desperate measures are being taken to plug the gaping black hole in public finances.
OUT: Residential homes
IN: Adopt-a-granny lottery
IN: Coin-operated pay-as-you-learn pub quiz machine
OUT: Council housing
IN: The legendary Nicholas van Hoogstraten
OUT: Local park
IN: Massive luxury high-rise apartment complex
OUT: Police officers
IN: Vigilante justice
OUT: Motorway patrols
IN: Motorway signs saying: ‘Be a good chap and keep your speed down’
OUT: Speed cameras
IN: UK becomes world’s largest racetrack
OUT: Fire engines
IN: Bucket of sand for hire in every town
OUT: Accident & Emergency Unit
IN: Box of plasters
OUT: Geriatric wards
IN: Australian DIY euthanasia advisor
OUT: Doctors, nurses, therapists
IN: Self-appointed holistic healer with wandering hands and degree in mumbo-jumbology from University of PO Box 12400, Alaska
OUT: Helping the needy
IN: Helping the trustees get around personal liability regulations
Not at risk, however, are the jobs and bonuses of hundreds of overpaid finance officers who thought it was clever to have a flutter with other people’s money.