Surely a lot of the problem arises from the odd accounting system in this country as applied to all public bodies? Basically,if a department does not spend its allocation it gets less in the next round.
I guess we all have different personal experiences, but in my view this used to be quite common in industry, as well. Nowadays, in industry, it’s more likely to be replaced by “zero-base” budgeting. Never mind what you received or didn’t receive in the past – what are you asking for next year, for what, and why can’t you do it for less.
History is only important in that individuals and departments with good track records are favoured over those with poor ones. Track record is delivery on time, and cost control. Under this arrangement, you get more power by under-spending (but the spend must be measured against delivery, not against elapsed time).