Staff numbers in the public sector

Roughly Labour has aded a million extra employees to the public payroll since taking power. Overall it employs around 6 million state employees. To be able to pay all the wages without ending up in a Greek type mess, we need to reduce these numbers in a sensible way.

Let us assume 1 million of them are uniformed personnel and front line medics, teachers and other essential workers. Let us assume that overall 5% or around 300,000 leave public employment each year, to retire or do something else. Let us assume we would need to replace all of the front line staff leaving, and need to replace some of the others leaving. That would still enable us to save substantial numbers of posts each year as natural wastage continued. It means no -one faces compulsory redundancy and taxpayers do not have to make redundancy payments to departing staff.

This would be good news for all working within the public sector, as it would increase the opportunities for promotion. There should also be programmes to encourage retraining and accelerated promotion for those already on the payroll. A Conservative government is going to have to weight the reductions more heavily on the overhead, as it has promised a 30% reduction in overhead cost over the next Parliament.

Some will say this could cause more unemployment as the public sector sharply reduces the amount of recruitment it undertakes. However, if it is allied to good policies to promote a private sector revival, it will assist that, building confidence in the public finances, allowing more talented people to join the private sector,and avoiding crisis interest rates. By the end of a five year Parliament the public sector would have a more affordable level of employment, with a better balance between front line employees and back office and regulatory overhead.

Prmoted by Christine Hill on behalf of John Redwood, both of 30 Rose Street Wokingham RG40 1XU

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48 Comments

  1. Mike Stallard
    Posted May 4, 2010 at 7:51 am | Permalink

    Aleluia! (As the Spanish say). You are so right!
    The line we see on TV (from people desperate to keep their jobs) is that you can't do anything about this because everyone is front line staff. All the little, bossy people with suits and silk scarves insist their jobs are front line!
    It is the old problem of the new general who has to clear out Headquarters.
    Making it a bit unpleasant (Montgomery) cannot be bad. Clearing out the perks (Ulysses S Grant) worked – he sacked all the "Hookers" (General Hooker's camp followers!) You don't have to be or Hitler (who just shouted a lot) or Stalin who shot (fired?) people.
    Boris Johnson says he has cleared out a whole floor by your methods in City Hall.
    There is nothing more important to these people, let us never forget, than keeping their (non-) job. Nothing.

    PS What's all this about corrupt Postal Voting deciding the election then? 50 cases of fraud??

    • Brigham
      Posted May 4, 2010 at 11:13 am | Permalink

      Postal voting fraud. I see that it is mostly committed by our enrichers. It looks like it is a way of life in some constituencies.

      • alan jutson
        Posted May 4, 2010 at 12:55 pm | Permalink

        Yes the sooner the choice of postal vote is stopped for all, and only made available for those who genuinely cannot make it (armed forces, etc) to the ballot box on the day, the better.

        The right to vote was hard won, so once every 5 years to get to the polling booth is hardly a big effort for most people.

        We seem very quick to find fault with other Countries systems, but seem to fail to police our own properly.

        John, If voting fraud is proven to have taken place in certain constituencies, will there be a re run ?

        Reply: I doubt it – it would have to be on a large scale to have an impact on the result

        • Brigham
          Posted May 4, 2010 at 1:20 pm | Permalink

          According to the "Mail on Line" postal voting in marginals is rife in some parts of the country. I think one or two is a "large scale" when it comes to election fraud. Let's get out of the EU so we can hang them!

  2. Posted May 4, 2010 at 8:54 am | Permalink

    Good stuff, but two factual points:

    1. Under ILO definitions, there are over 8 million taxpayer funded jobs.

    2. There are actually closer to 2 million 'frontline' jobs. But that still means there are 6 million non-frontline jobs.

    • Acorn
      Posted May 4, 2010 at 6:48 pm | Permalink

      Agreed Mark. This year the public sector will spend circa £170 billion on employee costs. About £90 billion of that will be spent by central government alone.

      The government also spends about £130 billion net, on procuring goods and services, from all the other sectors of the economy. A large proportion of this will be employee pay. Under ILO rules this does give about 8 million public sector employees. That is, persons effectively paid by the state.

      BTW. JR, your plan for natural wastage of the public payroll over five years. Assuming you can get a net reduction of one million employees over the five years; would save about £29 billion gross; less the unemployment bennies.

      Your savings plan is standing at about £55 billion net at the moment. You need about another £110 billion at least, to put the brakes on our mounting debt pile.

      PS. Who do I have to shout at, to get you on the Treasury Team?

  3. Johnny Norfolk
    Posted May 4, 2010 at 9:22 am | Permalink

    Hey steady on John. You are propsing to run the NHS lake a caring business, they are not used to that.

  4. HJ
    Posted May 4, 2010 at 9:45 am | Permalink

    John – Sorry, but I am afraid that this is a nonsense.

    It assumes that the state should and will continue to do approximately the same things as it does now, albeit with a slightly smaller staff.

    I realise that like many MPs you have limited business experience, but in any business faced with a huge revenue shortfall, modest across-the-board reductions in staff and spending, although possibly worthwhile, do not address the underlying problem. What good businesses do in these circumstances is to have a fundamental re-think of their activities and to prune and re-allocate resources accordingly.

    This is what the next government should do. It should shed functions that are not performing. Regional Development Agencies and many other quangos, for example. It should simplify taxes and welfare benefits to cut the admin costs (and staff) in half. It should also look at where it is overpaying – good examples include medics (by far the best paid in Europe) and cozy and lucrative contracts with many private sector suppliers to the public sector that have done so well at taxpayers expense in recent years.

    If you just require existing depts to lose staff by natural wastage in order to live with reduced budgets, you know perfectly well what will happen – generous early retirements deals that the taxpayer will have to fund but which don't appear on departmental budgets.

    Reply: Try reading more of what I have written. This is one of a series of articles on acitons needed to tame the deficit. I have often written about functions which should be eliminated, including RDAs and some other quangos.

    • Kevin Peat
      Posted May 4, 2010 at 11:59 am | Permalink

      You make sense, HJ.

      as of:

      "However, if it is allied to good policies to promote a private sector revival, it will assist that, building confidence in the public finances, allowing more talented people to join the private sector,and avoiding crisis interest rates."

      Will this include the privoso that it will be British jobs for British workers ? Otherwise we go on with the same free-for-all that is happening now and that is simply no good.

      I hate to sound small minded and bigotted (I'd refute that I am actually) but I have to keep reminding our politicians that they are elected by the British people for the British people. They seem to think that they are running the World Rescue Service !

      • Mike Stallard
        Posted May 4, 2010 at 5:57 pm | Permalink

        This is not in the parliament's remit.
        Workers from the EU (I know several Russians from the EU, several Ukranians and three West Africans) are now part of our country and cannot be "sent back" etc.
        Workers from the rest of the world, who haven't bothered to take out an EU passport, are also flocking here. I suppose they, too, could be controlled, except that you aren't allowed to sift the … Australians and Canadians from, say, the al Qua'eda (Middle Easterns) because that, too, is against the law.
        The question nobody seems to know the answer to is this: how many are "EU" and how many are not?

      • APL
        Posted May 4, 2010 at 6:04 pm | Permalink

        Kevin Peat: "They seem to think that they are running the World Rescue Service !"

        Well now, ain't that the truth!

        There is after all, plenty enough poverty and deprivation in the UK and that's before we have imported the poorest and most destitute from GNW?

    • HJ
      Posted May 4, 2010 at 10:49 pm | Permalink

      That's not what you say in this post though, John.

      Here's what you wrote:

      "It means no -one faces compulsory redundancy and taxpayers do not have to make redundancy payments to departing staff."

      Which strongly implies that you don't advocate drastically cutting or eliminating eliminating certain current functions of government.

      You can't have it both ways. If you want to eliminate RDAs and quangos, you can't do this in such a way that "no-one faces compulsory redundancies".

      Reply: You can offer them transfer to other parts of the public sector.

  5. Brian Tomkinson
    Posted May 4, 2010 at 9:47 am | Permalink

    A sensible approach which should have been implemented long ago. It hasn't been because we have had a government which believes that the economy is the public sector.

  6. Brian, follower of D
    Posted May 4, 2010 at 10:12 am | Permalink

    This does leave unanswered the question of why the taxpayer must be made to pay the wages (and, later, pensions) of employees who serve no purpose.

  7. simon
    Posted May 4, 2010 at 10:26 am | Permalink

    Future liabilities such as public sector pensions must immediately become fully funded and the Govt must not be able to dip into that fund .

    The risk of pensions performance should be borne by the recipient , not the next generation .

    Current public sector workers need to be made aware of the risk that the next generation could exercise their right to default on the currently unfunded element . It is in their interests to get a bird in the hand while they can .

    Obviously the Govt Actuary would have to come up with a rate of defined contributions which would also be cheaper for the country than current defined benefits pensions .

    It should be remembered that a pension is more than saving , it is an insurance policy against living beyond the date our savings would be exhausted .

    Means testing old age benefits discourages saving and costs tens of billions to administrate .

    Personally I prefer replacing all these kludges with compulsory contributions to a state primary pension during a working life which would allow a small element of redistribution to ensure even lower paid workers receive a pension above the level at which means tested old age benefits are paid .

    J.R. will you push to change the basis of public sector pensions from defined benefits to defined contributions ?

    • Duyfken
      Posted May 4, 2010 at 1:24 pm | Permalink

      If the pensions for the spending (public) sector had been properly funded, the total fund by now would be enormous – do you think a government, more particularly a Labour government could keep their hands off this?

      The best solution is for spending sector employees to be supplied with a scheme or schemes underwritten by insurers in the productive (private) sector – if that is good enough for the productive sector, why not the spending sector?

      Then perhaps, the government might more likely provide compensation should there be any defaults by insurers, unlike the way they have failed to compensate Equitable Life pensioners.

  8. Alfred T Mahan
    Posted May 4, 2010 at 10:59 am | Permalink

    Up to a point, Lord Copper. The problem, John, is that the employees are not all role-interchangeable.

    It may well be true that overall, using your figures, we could easily shed 5/6ths of the 300,000 leavers every year and only recruit the remaining 50,000. But in reality this would mean that some some essential functions become unviable without support staff who have left. Good, you say! We'll move people from other non-core areas and close those down! But you can't treat people like commodities and simply move them from place to place on a large scale – not only are there labour laws which are designed to make this difficult, there are huge practical problems in the process as well.

    I'm not aware of any commercial firm that has successfully "restructured" on this sort of scale by natural wastage alone without some form of enhanced redundancy offer. Please prove me wrong – I'd be glad to be.

  9. Olaf
    Posted May 4, 2010 at 11:03 am | Permalink

    Some of this is happening already. Certainly in Scotland. Local authorities are making an assumption of 10-15% cuts in funding. A freeze on non-essential recruitment is already happening and changes are being made to make cutting the dead wood easier.

    Many Gov agencies are hamstrung by Human Rights legislation and cannot get rid of the idle.
    It would be prudent for an incoming Gov to give authorities more flexibility.

  10. Ian Jones
    Posted May 4, 2010 at 11:18 am | Permalink

    Its not only numbers that need cutting, their pay and pension also needs to be brought into line with their local area.

    The private sector is being starved of talent in areas of high public spending and the pensions are out of this world in comparison with the private sector…..

  11. Matt
    Posted May 4, 2010 at 11:30 am | Permalink

    Without in any way making the public sector a “Fall guy” I'm sure that most public sector workers are vital and do great work, but I think each department should review its staffing and, if appropriate, immediate savings should be made, this is no more than is taking place in the private sector. Redundancy payments often have a quick payback.

    It would be prudent for long term government spending to close final salary schemes for new state employees and replace this provision with money purchase.

    Such a move would help people to be more aware of the importance of markets and the need for profitability. In some ways similar to what happened in the Thatcher era when privatisations took place.

  12. Posted May 4, 2010 at 11:34 am | Permalink

    I'm just worried that the "cuts" will be made by simply transferring the jobs elsewhere under a new name.
    Many years ago, I worked for National Air Traffic Services which were then part of the Board of Trade, later DTI. We were then all compulsorily transferred to the Civil Aviation Authority. The government proclaimed a reduction of jobs in the Civil Service (true), but actually there was an overall increase as the DTI still had a small liaison department (as the sponsoring ministry) and CAA grew a similar department and of course now had a Chairman and Board.
    All the costs still came from the taxpayer!
    We just don't want any more Quangos.

    Incidentally, David Cameron talks of giving power back to the people (or words to that effect). Are you aware of any government, anywhere, which has actually done this without being forced to do so by a revolution?

    • alan jutson
      Posted May 4, 2010 at 12:59 pm | Permalink

      English Pensioner

      Agreed

      No point in just outsourcing all existing tasks to the private sector.

      All that happens is that the taxpayer pays for private companies to do the work. You ma save a little but not enough.

      We need to restructure and only pay for tasks/jobs which are essential.

  13. Posted May 4, 2010 at 11:41 am | Permalink

    A sensible approach which should have been implemented long ago. It hasn’t been because we have had a government which believes that the economy is the public sector.

  14. Mike Paterson
    Posted May 4, 2010 at 11:53 am | Permalink

    All very straightforward. Just do a search of all govt departments, quangos and govt-funded charities for job titles with words such as "outreach", "gender", "equality", "safety" in them and wield the scythe. Alternatively, identify every govt job advertisement in the Guardian over the past 13 years and do the same. No one will notice any difference to services except for self-appointed "victims" with an axe to grind. The savings would be immense. I do hope that if elected on Thursday, the Conservatives will stop pussy-footing on this issue.

  15. Mark M
    Posted May 4, 2010 at 12:56 pm | Permalink

    The only way to bring the state under control is to heavily link the pay of the senior civil servants with required efficiencies.

    I bet you'd be surprised how much money the government could save if we made 50% of a department head's salary to be dependent on lowering the total spend of their department (who remembers the Yes, Minister episode where Hacker wanted to deny honours for any civil servant who didn't reduce his or her budget by 5%?).

    At my job (a big utility company) we're cutting costs and the bonuses of managers are linked in to ensuring identified cost savings are made. The focus this is bringing onto costs is a lesson government could learn.

  16. Robert George
    Posted May 4, 2010 at 1:03 pm | Permalink

    Some slightly more immediate measures are also required:-

    1 Immediate freeze on all new or replacement employees. That will need some sort of Ministerial review in special cases, not by the line minister responsible but by a finance minister.

    2 Natural wastage will not deal with the fact that some functions have to cease. Numerous Quangos need to lose all their staff. These should be funnelled into a pool from which only necessary replacements could be recruited.

    3 Freeze on all PS wages for 2 years.

    4 No bonus's for senior staff during reform period (say 5 years).

    5 Dismissal of some very senior public servants is essential "pour encouragement les autres." It does not have to be many but it sets the tone and intent and will send out a clear message to the fat cats that they are not secure. The BBC would be a useful target . Retain the news service plus Radio's 3 & 4, sell or close down the rest.

    6 Close all final salary pension schemes immediately for new employees and look at methods to cap the remainder.

    7 Raise PS pension age to 70.

    8 Being a classicist at heart I favour the application of an old Roman method to the senior public servants; decimate them, that is pick out 10% of senior backroom staff from all departments and make their positions redundant. It is much easier to persuade juniors they have to accept hard decisions if they are applied from the top first.

    Just a few thoughts John but the most important omission in your piece is that there are many many functions and Quangos which could be got rid of altogether quite quickly.

    • Max
      Posted May 4, 2010 at 2:39 pm | Permalink

      Robert – hard to add to that excellent list.

      John – While I take your point that other areas will be cut, I fail to see under your proposal (a good start that it is) why we have to pay for clearly redundant functions for the next 30 years because those individuals refuse to 'retire'. Those least able to secure employment in the private sector will tend to be the ones who cling on, happy to form-fill for decades.

      O/T but friends in Hong Kong and Singapore are already reporting a 'flood' of professionals arriving from the UK. Anecdotal, but now being supported by estate agents, recruitment consultants and others I have spoken to. There really is very little time to sort this mess out come Friday.

  17. Steve Cox
    Posted May 4, 2010 at 1:24 pm | Permalink

    Nowhere near radical enough for me, John. By all means, use your proposal as a base, but let's start quickly by taking a very sharp axe to the real wasters and pointless jobsworths that have been created by the NuLab maladministration (and foisted onto our local councils by their insistence on endless legislation without commensurate funding).

    For example, get a team to go back through the pages of the Guardian public sector adverts over the last 10 years and identify all those useless, PC posts created by the NuLab Nazis. You know what I mean, the diversity coordinators, five-a-day champions, and so on, ad nauseam. Then evaluate each post and if it does not add genuine economic value – I personally don't give a bugger about social value in the world of these Alice In Wonderland jobs – then axe it immediately with new legislation to minimise the cost to the state. So many neo-socialists have thought themselves clever to have jumped onto this bandwagon over the years that they deserve no payoff. Give them support finding a new job in the private sector, by all means, but get rid of these bloodsucking parasites ASAP.

    Please!!!!!

  18. Falco
    Posted May 4, 2010 at 1:59 pm | Permalink

    There are two areas that need cutting; those state employees that do things that we would rather they didn't, (bin inspectors, smoking inspectors, etc.) and those that may or may not be a pleasant extra given an infinite money pit, (outreach coordinators, most of the Grauniad job section, etc.) that now have to go.

    Getting rid of the above would not only save money but improve the service we receive in the process.

    The other major reform needed is bring a similar level of discipline to the civil service that every private business must have or go bankrupt. The process of hiring, firing or making redundant in the civil service could scarcely be designed to be more wasteful, slower or expensive.

  19. JimF
    Posted May 4, 2010 at 2:04 pm | Permalink

    Looks like we will be keeping a certain G. Brown in either the Public or Charitable Sector though, as if anyone could doubt it…. from the Times…

    He admits that "if I couldn't make a difference any more I would go off and do something else." He wants to do "something for charity, voluntary work. I don’t want to do business or anything – I just want to do something good."

    Says it all.

  20. Posted May 4, 2010 at 2:08 pm | Permalink

    We are always led to believe that the Italian bureaucracy is out of control but what about British bureacracy: Take the National Policing Improvement Agency (NPIA), which didn't exist until three years ago and costs the taxpayer more than £500 million a year – that's over £1.5 billion of taxpayer money since its inception. Its reason for being? To ‘help to improve the way policing works'. For the NPIA this means doing things like 'improving the delivery of services' and 'developing skills and professionalism in the workplace' – not actually investigating any crime, God forbid.

    Crikey, what did we do before the NPIA? I mean, if there aren't enough people to achieve that goal in the Home Office, all 55 UK police forces, Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary, the Association of Chief Police Officers, the Association of Police Authorities, the Police Advisory Board for England and Wales, the Chief Police Officers' Staff Association, or the Police Superintendents Association… then surely it's a lost cause.

    Will any government just abolish some of these bodies or merely trim them?

  21. A G
    Posted May 4, 2010 at 3:35 pm | Permalink

    I couldn't agree more.
    Today, under Labour, I know of hospital consultant doctor posts that are not being replaced as they become vacant because management don't have the money. This just loads up everyone left behind and the system gradually cloggs up and breaks down because demand doesn't go away. It is the worst way to reduce public sector costs. Labour have reached the end of the road with debt masquerading as investment to cover up failure. These 'under the counter' frontline cuts will become apparent as waiting times increase.
    John has used the phrase 'more for less' many times and it is full of common sense and should be what the public want.
    The problem for a new government are the constraints of the financial situation.
    I think the Conservative suggestion of a public sector pay freeze for all but the lowest paid is a fair one and I say this as someone whose family income depends on a public sector wage. Harsh conditions may cause a brain drain in the public sector as well as the private one and it will not serve the country well if all the best people leave across the board
    The whole point about it all is to re-balance things intelligently and carefully and that will require Knowledge, skill, trust, co-operation and also an element of risk by reducing the beaurocratic control and cutting red tape. The treasury is going to have to work hard with all other departments to reduce costs in an intelligent and non-damaging way. it would greatly reassure me if you had a hand in it.
    The Conservatives have impressed me with their knowledge of the problems of the NHS while in opposition and their recognition of its importance to the electorate. They seem to have understood staff concerns that cancer targets in non-specialist general practise disadvantage the false negatives who get a worse service having to wait behind all the false positives (who nevertheless get their anxiety relieved) in a resource limited system. They know that quality of outcome is a more important measure. It takes bottle to use a thoughtful nuanced argument in the face of the other parties blind populist bandwagon but they are putting the real interests of patients first. This country is crying out for intelligent government.
    As a start I think there is a need to empower every public employee to be able to contribute to the discussion about doing more for less and to gain from it. There are mountains of waste that can be eliminated. My own personal bugbear is re-branding where old notepaper or signs are thrown out and replaced with ones of a different colour, picture or heading. Anyone who was spending their own money wouldn't do this.
    John talks about promotion but that only helps if the right people are promoted. In the NHS, my doctor husband has told me that he could cut costs by about a quarter in his department and deliver a better service for patients. The joke is that all the 'good' people never put themselves up for a managing 'head of department' role because it is such a poisonous job. The demands of administrators, government and patients to do the impossible without any real power often ends up in mental breakdown for the poor server, so the irony is that competent people will only put themselves forward as part of a pact to keep an awful candidate out. This is not the best way to run things!
    As my teenage son keeps telling me 'Labour are all talk no work'!

    • Mike Stallard
      Posted May 5, 2010 at 8:51 am | Permalink

      I went to the hospital yesterday. I counted no less than five people in the office for admissions alone. Are they all necessary? And there seemed to be a lot of people in suits with name tags clicking along too. I notice that the Consultant did not wear a name tag and he did not click along.

  22. Monty
    Posted May 4, 2010 at 3:48 pm | Permalink

    Sorry to go off topic.

    But why hasn't Cameron made a manifesto committment to hold a referendum on the re-ratification of Lisbon?
    http://www.taxpayersalliance.com/eu/2010/05/a-gol

  23. Javelin
    Posted May 4, 2010 at 4:34 pm | Permalink

    Interesting looking at the riots in Athens on TV. The markets have turned against the bailout. Even Nobel prize economists are saying the Euro is limited.

    The market seems to react to the riots because it shows peoples will power to accept the austerity measures. Meaning the Greek Government may have to haircut investors. Traders still think that there is possible contagion if the public dont accept the cuts then this will set a precedent for haircuts for Portugese and Spainish investors.

    For example one of the austerity measures from the EU is that retirement age will be linked to longevity – which means women retiring later. Not sure the Greeks will like that.

  24. Alan Johnson
    Posted May 4, 2010 at 5:01 pm | Permalink

    Very interesting, but you may all be missing one vital point.
    Thanks to John, readers of his most excellent blog, are only too well aware of just how bad things really are financially, but the average person is not. I have just heard Gordon Brown for a couple of minutes this lunchtime (that's all I could take) passionately defending his no cuts policy and promising even more goodies to the electorate.

    As I understand it, the Government (Britain plc) is spending £4 for every £3 the government receives in revenue, and has been engaged in a policy of massive borrowing which they claim is perfectly sustainable and of pumping billions (we don't have) into the economy, via the Bank of Englands computers.
    The real debt is on schedule to be around £1.3 Trillion!

    The party is over, and we have to pay the bill, otherwise the baliffs will break down the door and and take everything from us, preventing us enjoying the lifestyle we've all enjoyed but haven't been able to afford.
    The British public doesn't understand this any more than the Greek public and a whole host of other countries including the USA. Why? Because their politicians haven't had the courage to tell them. (With honourable exceptions in all countries)

    Let's not kid ourselves, no government is going to engage in massive cuts of the kind that are needed, unless the IMF mafioso are standing over them with an uzzi machine pistol, while the market mobs are standing outside screaming for blood.

    John's suggestions have great merit and when combined with other cost saving measures will help change the way people think, and make genuine sustainable change possible.

    Those of you with experience in business will know that it is possible for everyone and every sector to become 1% more efficient. That is a target that is achievable by everyone without exception.
    Do the sums and you will see just how much money could be saved.

    Off topic, I know, but I think no one knows what might happen on voting day, least of all the pollsters.
    It will be fascinating to see if the claimed liberal support actually translates into votes in the ballot box.
    Ukippers, I have the greatest sympathy for your position, but know for sure, that a vote for anyone other than Conservatives will result in Labour staying in power, one way or another. I too long for a referendum on Europe, but I long for the ejection of the worst government I have ever had to live under, even more. With my peg on my nose, I will be voting Conservative, how about you?

  25. Paul from MK UK
    Posted May 4, 2010 at 5:11 pm | Permalink

    There's a whole layer of needless public sector jobs which are coming up for review very soon.
    If Lab/Lib don't form a government and we have a Prime Minister Cameroon, the Lisbon Treaty Mark II would present him with an enormous opportunity to 'make good' on all the promises he's been making, including that 'cast-iron' guarantee.
    ( http://www.taxpayersalliance.com/eu/2010/05/a-gol… )

  26. Martin
    Posted May 4, 2010 at 6:34 pm | Permalink

    There are some in the public sector who should be sacked – for example the DWP staff giving terminally ill , Parkinson's disease and similar folk a hard time for disability benefit. See http://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/press_20100323 .I wish somebody had asked Mr Brown about this shameful business. for which he deserves to lose the election.

    Assuming we are still a civilised nation might I ask that whoever is Minister for DWP next week sort out this disgrace.

  27. no one
    Posted May 4, 2010 at 7:09 pm | Permalink

    you forget all the folk in the firms that work exclusively for the public sector too

  28. Posted May 4, 2010 at 7:43 pm | Permalink

    Agreed. Though I'd couple it with a 10% paycut for all public sector staff earning more than £25,000. In that way – everyone's jobs can be protected and we can reduce the deficit much more quickly.

  29. Javelin
    Posted May 4, 2010 at 9:36 pm | Permalink

    Greece (and the Euro) is in retreat because somebody found out Greece has hired Lazards debt restructuring team (who advised Argentina) and the markets are assuming they wouldn't do this unless there was a nasty surprise somewhere in the books.

    I've always though Greek investors would get a hair cut this autumn. Dragging this out will only make things worse and possible drag the other PIGS into the basket with them.

    My worry with the UK is that they have not really made their off balance sheet figures public (e.g. PPP and Pensions) and we may wake up to a very nasty headline one morning in the FT on public sector pension and PPP affordablity.

  30. BillyB
    Posted May 4, 2010 at 9:52 pm | Permalink

    JR wants "good policies to promote a private sector revival" – what exactly does Britain have to offer in a competitive global economy? There will always be someone who will do it cheaper unless we have some local "edge". Even our home-grown entrepreneurs prefer to give jobs to far-east workers over our own. I can't see where this optimism for a revival might come from. A race to the bottom on tax rates won't solve the deficit problem will it?

  31. Lindsay McDougall
    Posted May 5, 2010 at 2:48 am | Permalink

    Agreed. I particularly liked the bit about accelerated promotion. When Margaret Thatcher decided to abolish the Greater London Council (GLC) as being an unnecessary tier of government, some local government officers stayed on to the bitter end as the GLC was wound down. The reward for some was 3 promotions in short order, which was a great boost to their careers.

    That was the time when Ken Livingstone refused to talk to or supply data to consultants working for the London Docklands Development Corporation. Much of the early transport planning in Docklands was on the basis of 1971 population and employment data, some 15 years out of date. Since Docklands was a "clean sheet job", this only affected the external distribution of journeys and had little influence on the conclusions.

    • simon
      Posted May 5, 2010 at 11:07 am | Permalink

      In a school where I lived a teacher was promoted to deputy head in her last 6 months of service .

      The patient next to me in hospital was in his late 50's and had been a prison officer . On his very last day of service , he was given a promotion .

      This is effectively a payrise of at least 10% back dated to the the day you started !

      The abuse of backloaded (final salary) pensions is terrific .

  32. Alan Douglas
    Posted May 5, 2010 at 5:57 am | Permalink

    NHS retraining ? Good idea, get some of those excess NHS managers/clipboard carriers retrained as cleaners. The swirls of dust under every bed in every ward my aged mother was in a year or so ago were a disgrace.

    And have ALL of these managers infest the wards at meal-times to help the patients actually manage to eat their meals.

    Win-win.

    Alan Douglas

  33. David Price
    Posted May 5, 2010 at 9:33 am | Permalink

    What you are proposing is very generous, certainly compared to treatment of people in the private sector. But, how will you rid the system of and non-jobs and non-performers though? What about the overly paid yet underachieving senior managemeent and the wholely superfluous Qangos.

    It sounds like they won't be made redundant and may get re-training for another role while still being paid by the taxpayer. They may be transferred to a private sector service provider who would then do the dirty deed, underwritten by the taxpayer via TUPE rules of course.

    Will these staff realise or appreciate how incredibly generous this is with taxpayer's money?

    I think I understand why you are proposing this light touch approach, but I can't help feeling that this is at a significant disadvantage to taxpayers. It also sends the wrong message entirely, that the only worthwhile place for employment is the public sector since the rewards and protection far exceed those in the private sector.

    I have been led to believe that we are in a truly desparate financial situation. Surely this calls for equally desparate cost cutting measures? Clearly not though for the bloated public sector which is about the same size as a US federal government that manages a country with 6 times the population of the UK.

    I don't know exactly what the right size of administration should be but it isn't just slightly less than we have today or even 1997 levels. Considering the additional costs of funding the EU and the over-priced private sector consultants and contractors, the overall costs must become significantly less.

    I am certainly not convinced that natural wastage is going to achieve anything like the cost reductions the situation demands.

  34. Posted May 6, 2010 at 3:38 am | Permalink

    I went to the hospital yesterday. I counted no less than five people in the office for admissions alone. Are they all necessary? And there seemed to be a lot of people in suits with name tags clicking along too. I notice that the Consultant did not wear a name tag and he did not click along.

  35. Posted May 7, 2010 at 9:42 am | Permalink

    I can’t see where this optimism for a revival might come from. A race to the bottom on tax rates won’t solve the deficit problem will it?

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    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, He graduated from Magdalen College Oxford, has a DPhil and is a fellow of All Souls College. A businessman by background, he has been a director of NM Rothschild merchant bank and chairman of a quoted industrial PLC.

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