I was pleased to see today’s Sunday Times highlight the huge increases in some of the top public sector salaries under this government, and the large 12% plus average increase in these incomes last year when the government was preaching pay restraint to everyone else. It shows the government’s plan to have a better paid public sector with lower productivity and higher costs is on track.
Every day when they do come to the Commons to tell us what they are up to Labour Ministers boast about how much extra particular public services are costing us compared to 1997. They come less often than their predecesssors used to, as they need half term holidays three times a year. They live their brand of lower productivity in the public sector. They tell us proudly they have increased the cost of all the public services under their control. They seem to muddle cost up with quality. We can now see that some of the increase in cost is their generosity to high flying civil servants, Regulators and nationalised industry chiefs. It is doubtful if these people would have resigned and been replaced with inferior talent if they had made them experience the same pay restraint as everyone else. The bosses at the Post Office have benefitted from the new approach to public sector pay, but not all their customers are convinced that it has bought them a better service, especially given the recent strikes and the reduction in deliveries.
The fall in public sector productivity – or in some cases its failure to rise at the rate achieved by the private sector – must be laid at the doors of the very senior managers who are receiving the largesse of big pay increases, both in basic pay and in "performance" bonuses. All too often now we have to pay twice for something to be done – once for the salary of the official in charge, and then again to the consultant that he decides should be given the job rather than doing it in house. As public sector productivity and quality fall – as with poor hygeine standards in hospitals – the taxpayer is made to pay for an ever larger army of Regulators, as the government seeks to show it is doing something about the problem.
The government should ask itself how it is the private sector keeps raising productivity and quality, whilst keeping costs down. I do not go to a local supermarket because it spends more on its staff and top managers than the one down the road. I go to it because it provides high quality merchandise at competitive prices. I do not want my constituents to go to a local school or hospital becuase they are dearer than some other school and hospital. I want them to go because they deliver an excellent quality service at a price the taxpayer can afford. I do not see supermarkets boasting that they have put their costs up.