I learn today that my colleague Philip Hammond has obtained some figures from the government showing just what huge sums have been paid out in performance pay, including to the accident prone Inland Revenue and others who have lost data.
I had tabled separately a series of questions to find out if these performance awards are easily come by, and if there is any attempt to manage performance well. Looking at the results – the lost data, the falling or slow moving productivity, the error rates, the accounts that have to be qualified and the general delay throughout the public sector in answering letters and queries, management under this government is very lax.
I have asked how many people have lost their jobs for incompetence and worse; how many staff have been disciplined, and how many staff have been awarded no bonus or low bonuses under bonus schemes. If I get an answer – and full answers are rare to Parliamentary questions under this regime, I am expecting it to reveal that bonuses are not used as part of a tight management system, and are too easily granted and payments awarded at the end of the year.
The rows over MPs pay demonstrate the understandable anger of people in private sector jobs where bonuses vanish when performance declines, even if that happens through no fault of the employees and the company thanks to market circumstances, when they see the public sector casualness in its approach to reward and remuneration.
We need to revisit the whole question of public sector reward and its poor linkage to productivity and performance. Bonuses are used effectively in many parts of the private sector to drive ever better personal and company performance. There is no evidence they are well used or properly disciplined in the public sector.
If I get no answers to my questions it will be typical of the malfunctioning government. If I get honest answers I expect it will show one sided bonus schemes which do not deliver as much as they should by way of better performance.