The changing face of jobs

A leading newspaper on Sunday had a most interesting Appointments Section. Out have gone all the additional public sector roles we became used to under Gordon Brown’s Labour government. Out have gone most of the eye catching public sector salaries higher than the Prime Minister’s.

Practically all the jobs in the Section were either public sector replacement jobs or “third sector”. Presumably the private sector has other ways of finding the talent it needs. It was a slim supplement.

The BBC is seeking non-executive directors (no pay level advertised) , the FSA Consumer Panel members (no pay level advertised).

Ipswich’s new Chief Executive will be offered a salary below £100,000 a year. The Chief Executive of Ofqual will be paid circa £100,000 unless “exceptional” (worth another £20,000). The Principal of Preston College will receive £130,000 if “outstanding” whilst the Managing director of the Newcastle College Group will paid a rather coy “attractive six figure package”. The Chief Executive of the Welsh Ambulance Service will be paid around £120,000.

Liverpool City Council comes in with a Prime Minister busting £197,500 for a replacement Chief Executive.

The times are gradually changing.


  1. Nick
    September 7, 2010

    Welcome to deflation in salaries, inflation in taxation, inflation in prices.

    The perfect storm

  2. English Pensioner
    September 7, 2010

    Not only are these salaries far too high, but what annoys me even more is that most of the people appointed are not up to the job as the first thing they do seems to be to call in consultants to advise them what needs doing. (The NHS seems to have been one of the worst examples, although hopefully this has been brought to a stop) Presumably candidates are considered "exceptional" or "outstanding" are those who have some idea as to what they are doing.

    1. StevenL
      September 7, 2010

      The 'management' textbooks they read tell them the first thing they should do is call in the consultants.

      1. Mark
        September 8, 2010

        As the song says, "don't blame it on the sunshine, blame it on the boogie!"

  3. Sally C.
    September 7, 2010

    What is happening about pension provisions for the many thousands of very well paid public sector staff including doctors? Is any kind of cap on future publicly funded pension payments going to be put in place? As far as I am concerned, anyone earning £75,000 or more, should be made responsible for organising their own private pensions but, at the very least, we should stipulate a cap on any tax-payer funded pension provisions for these people.
    Separately, the papers are often full of articles about large families receiving huge benefit payments and demanding large homes paid for by the rest of us. I know this will be contentious, but shouldn't we be thinking about a time limit for benefit payments? In most countries, welfare payments come to an end after a certain period of time, often as little as two years. I would have thought five years ( with a lock out period of two years thereafter) would be enough time for people to organise their lives so that they no longer need benefit payments. People have to know that there is a limit to the state's largesse otherwise they will grow their families and live their lives while, all the time, fleecing the rest of us.

    September 7, 2010

    As you say a change for the better. Good old Eric Pickles and the more general thrust too (including at this site).

    A dire problem remains with youth and long-term unemployment. As contributors here may know our colleagues The Essex Boys (yes they’re still alive and worrying!) have long advocated the need for the setting up of a new-style National Service organised at the county level to actively create jobs for the lesser skilled, including the less physically able in worthwhile admin roles. No dole – no excuse for not joining!

    They recently offered a variation. In a nutshell, it would offer the services of the pool of unemployed to all employers on a ‘free 3-month’ basis. The state would continue to pay them at the benefits level for that period to give them work experience and the chance to get a long-term position. Employers could top up or pay a bonus for good performance if they choose.


  5. Private Schultz
    September 7, 2010


    More generally, surely the days of advertising jobs in newspapers are numbered? It must be more cost effective to advertise them via the company website and/or an independent web-based company – plus local media/job centres as appropriate.

  6. Robert Taggart
    September 7, 2010

    Does all this mean 'we' could afford to employ more people ?
    Better still, if the public purse be shelling out less on the wages bill, could those of us happily doing nothing at the public expense (scroungers) continue to be paid without 'hindrance' ? !
    Liebours Lord Desai suggested sometime ago scrapping the existing benefits system and simply paying all of us, whether working or not (minors included ?), £5000 a year. That would suit us just fine !

    1. Socrato
      September 8, 2010

      Minors not included, 5K increase free pay – all for it. Again the incentive structure. Support those who contribute, discourage those who don't. 1 year max dependancy. Simple. No excuses. The safety net has become a hammock. Time for wake up call.

    September 7, 2010


    They sent their proposal this to Ian Duncan Smith, Chris Grayling and Frank Field on 10th August. So far no acknowledgement let alone response has been received from any of the 3 we understand.
    This government – like the last – lets off a lot of hot air about ‘public consultation’ and ‘listening’. Is it beyond the scope – and the good manners – of their senior politicians to respond to the good faith of their supporters?

    September 7, 2010

    Incidentally we read today that 86% of the BBC's advertising budget is spent with the Guardian. It would be illuminating to know if, as w suspect, a similar proportion has been channeled in the same direction on all public recruitment advertising.

    Is it any wonder that the BBC and public services are accused of a bias to the left?

    1. grahams
      September 7, 2010

      Exactly. Recruitment is the key to putting objectivity back into the domestic BBC, far better than the blunderbuss.

  9. Jan
    September 7, 2010

    In my experience it costs a huge amount to put adverts for recruitment in the paper (even more in Wales where everything has to be bi-lingual) but it is considered to be the fairest (most politically correct?) way to find candidates. Hence third sector and public posts are usually advertised this way. Businesses maybe don't experience this constraint and are able to recruit in whatever is the most cost-effective way.

    1. Stuart Fairney
      September 8, 2010

      As a fellow Welsh person the bi-lingual nonsense annoys the hell out of me and a small wager that Welsh isn't even the second language of Wales despite the zealotry and public subsidy for a pointless and out of date echo of the past. I’d bet East Asian language speakers surpass Welsh as a first language, even if official figures don’t record it.

  10. Robert Pay
    September 7, 2010

    A good sign! I hope that the Chancellor implements the proposal to cap public sector pensions at £60k – the equivalent of a £1.5m pension fund. I believe that anyone earning a high salary – say £60k plus should be saving for their own retirement and not expecting the highly indebted taxpayer to pay out for them. Make only the first 60K of salary pensionable in the public sector…

  11. JimF
    September 7, 2010

    "The Chief Executive of the Welsh Ambulance Service will be paid around £120,000."
    Basically the task is to ensure that people get from home to hospital and back as quickly and safely as possible. It isn't Rocket Science, is it?
    This would seem to be neither a ground-breakingly creative nor particularly burdensome role, assuming that people already get transported pretty efficiently. OK there is some responsibility for ensuring that ambulance drivers actually do the job they're paid to do and I assume for making sure that costs are kept under control, but the average line manager would do all this and more in the private sector for half as much money (before pension etc.). Some way to go, isn't there?

    1. Geoff not Hoon
      September 8, 2010

      Agree 100% JimF but living in Wales and seeing the revolving door for this post there is obviously something very rotten at the heart of this 'business'. I bet in the last 2 years we have seen 5 bods come and go all on this money or more but non last more than a few months at most. Could it be politics do you think??

  12. Stephen W
    September 7, 2010

    And Amen to that.

  13. Paul Danon
    September 7, 2010

    Some councils have elected leaders paid £50k in so-called allowances, which surely means you can't justify also paying a chief executive.

  14. John C
    September 7, 2010


    Something drastic needs to be done re: the public sector and how they interact with the 'real' private sector.

    I once worked for a major FTSE 100 private sector company who specialised in both the Legal and General areas of commerce.

    In the IT department we had a very low turnover of staff (1980s), far lower than the industry average. It showed. Most staff were very conservative when it came to new ideas. As a relatively new, young and eager member of staff I wanted things to change for the better. All suggestions to try and improve things were met with major, headache inducing, resistance. (So, it's not just the public sector that are resistant to change.)

    Why don't we do something radical?

    Google, Amazon and eBay show the way when it comes to IT. How adaptable it is and, when done correctly, how cost effective IT can be. They handle more data than the UK government yet, how many times do you hear of problems on the scale of the current HMRC tax problem (caused by a new computer system, 200%+ over budget) affecting 6 million people? You don't. Why? Because it would affect their bottom line.

    People use 'experts' like EDS (in the old days) and PWC as consultants. The difference between consultants ('experts') who work for the likes of PWC and the IT staff who work for the likes of the private companies I listed, is that, if the IT project goes belly up, the consultants get paid more. For the IT staff in the compainies I listed, it affects the profitablilty of their company.

    How about giving a relatively small/medium government contract to a company like Amazon to implement?

    I would readily award them a £100m contract just to try it out. In the last 20 years we have wasted billions on IT projects.

    1. Morningstar
      September 10, 2010

      As someone who used to work for an 'outsourcing' company – IT contracts (many public sector). I can assure everyone that the people doing the work actually try to do as good a job as possible.
      The problems usually occur when the business requesting the service has incompetants defining the requirements and then perpetually moving the goalposts during the WIP phase causing the scrapping of hundreds (sometimes thousands) of hours worth of work (or even in many cases specifying hardware against recommendations (to 'cut costs') – and then discovering (as informed) that it is not fit for purpose !) Often resulting in a new system which does none of the required 'packages' particularly well !
      Often at the completion of the project – the manpower costs which should be saved – result in the people who should be redundant just having a bad system to fight with – therefore negating the cuts in manpower which should have been forthcoming. White elephants where the management pat each other on the back and award bonuses (to each other) for a job well done ! Completed years late and over budget ! Still it gives their job purpose ! One of the reasons why I was pleased to get out !

  15. libertarian
    September 7, 2010

    Anyone using the very expensive newspaper advertising media is 1) Out of touch 2) Got more money than sense 3) Isn't worth working for with anyone with a modicum of talent.

    Internet based advertising is how ALL forward thinking, diverse, cost aware organisations recruit . An internet based advert on the appropriate web site(s) will have significantly more readers and should not cost any more than £100 + vat for a month unless you pay for lots of "hot job", top of list, featured job add ons.

    1. Morningstar
      September 10, 2010

      Any job advert which removes finance from a lefty rag like the Gormiad is progress as far as I am concerned !

      I resent my tax money being used to prop up that 'progressive' (marxism is soooo 19th Century) loo roll !

  16. Socrato
    September 8, 2010

    I absolutely agree with Robert, it is scandalous for higher tax bracket earners, especially those who are employed in civil service to expect large pension obligations from the public purse without using their capacity to prepare for themselves. They themselves can see the enormous deficits and problems which they refuse to address – yet hope to benefit from the status quo, we all know cannot exist for long (though one is led to believe other due to system-wide inertia). It is a contentious question of course, for all involved, but sticking ones head in the sand won't make it go away. This government can chip away at the margin….but it must show radical leadership, in what can only be described as a desperate problem for current and future generations. When we have the courage to finally address the really big issues, we will lay the (pre?)conditions for the national revival we so desperately need – the tax cuts so desperately needed to attract international investment and the jobs required to get the long term unemployed to work and get off benefits etc. Unfortunately, the risk is the staus quo continues, and particularly in the case of pensions ((where the majority of money is invested in gilts), the worst case scenario will occur endangering their own pot. How long should the people who know better, not challenge those supposedly in the know. The idea of a cap would send a strong message across the land and to the bond market, itself solidifying the position of most of these people pensions. We must get the incentive structures right across the whole economy in a consistent manner. Otherwise the 'free' (rider) market will run riot as has been evidenced in so many other areas of public policy. After more than a decade of propaganda regarding rights, a few years of responsible action is needed.Get it in whilst you can. This is no time for wallflowers.

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