Stop recruiting to admin posts


  I nearly choked over the coffee on Sunday morning. The Appointments pages of a leading newspaper opened with the offer of £130,000 plus benefits for a Managing Director, Business Group, UK Trade and Investment. It also offered £110,000 plus bonus for a Newcastle based CEO of the Marine Management Organisation quango. Careers at MI5 were advertised, but being a secret service we were not told  anything so vulgar as how many people and what salaries. There were then various NED Appointments to Health trusts and Trustees for the publicly funded Institute of Food Research.

               Surely the public sector has enough managerial types. If you ened to fill a slot, reshuffle the pack and eliminate a post somewhere else.

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  1. Tim Carpenter
    Posted September 27, 2011 at 6:52 am | Permalink

    I disagree – the best talent needs to be sought and open, transparent recruiting surely is superior to “Buggins’ turn”. What is needed is the will to eliminate the dead wood and reduce numbers where needed and to stop paying private sector salaries for roles without private sector risk and responsibility.

    On the other hand, maybe that is too much to ask and what you suggest is all that we can expect.

    • Caterpillar
      Posted September 27, 2011 at 8:52 am | Permalink

      I think about a decade ago ‘the world of HR’ started to negatively re-evaluate the Welch vitality curve approach, but one does just wonder whether a few years of rank & yanking might help some parts of the public sector.

      • David Hepburn
        Posted September 27, 2011 at 2:57 pm | Permalink

        Is this in Welsh? If so, could someone please translate for a Scotsman?

    • Jer
      Posted September 27, 2011 at 12:50 pm | Permalink

      I disagree.

      In my experience what the public sector does, and how it does it:

      a) Indicates no great talent
      b) Discourages thinking, and makes talent irrelevant
      c) Is irrelevant except to those with teeth clamped firmly to the taxpayer nipple anyway.

      I would like us to concentrate on having a civil service that runs at minimum cost, compatible with bearable competance and honesty. Is the actual skill level better now that the average pay of civil servants has risen above that of the private economy? I see no signs, if anything the converse, though they would doubtless blame the politicians.

      I’m sure there are some skilled and motivated people in the public sector.

    • uanime5
      Posted September 27, 2011 at 3:44 pm | Permalink

      If these roles had private sector risk and responsibility they would be paid over £1 million for their work.

  2. Mick Anderson
    Posted September 27, 2011 at 7:06 am | Permalink

    Westminster will tell us that it is the result of their devolving responsibilities, and local Government will tell us that it is because of all the centrally imposed liabilities.

    Even in the unlikely event that these posts are necessary, I suspect that they would have a long queue of applicants at a fifth of the salary, most of whom could do such a non-job perfectly well.

    Mr Cameron and Mr Osborne might talk the talk, but they have yet to learn how to walk.

  3. lifelogic
    Posted September 27, 2011 at 7:23 am | Permalink

    I would get rid of pay offs – above say 2 months. Then both the state sector (and the private) could fire and hire at will (if the state sector really needed to hire).

    The current systems forces them to offer packages and they usually loose the best and are left with the rest. The wrong people in the wrong jobs is not good for productivity and competitivity it arises from bad employment laws.

    You can nearly always tell state sector employee – just from the language they use, the papers they read and the way they view the world. Usually upside down and back to front only occasionally am I surprised by one or two.

    • uanime5
      Posted September 27, 2011 at 3:47 pm | Permalink

      That would go against EU law so fortunately the Government can’t change this. Thus the state and companies still have to give those who dedicated large parts of their lives to the state/company a decent redundancy package.

      Also companies wouldn’t lose their best people if they paid they a decent salary and offered promotion prospects. If a company offers neither it’s no surprise that the best employees leave for a better job at another company.

      • lifelogic
        Posted September 27, 2011 at 4:17 pm | Permalink

        If you look at many company profits you see many are clearly unable to offer better pay without going bust. Indeed we need to get out of the EU and have sensible laws in the interest of workers and companies alike.

        It does not benefit the other employees of any company if they cannot employ the right people in the right jobs any more that it benefits the company or the country – just more lawyers and their competitors overseas and few jobs available all round.

    • Bazman
      Posted September 27, 2011 at 9:02 pm | Permalink

      Another one of your ploys to increase the desperation of the workforce.
      What you are saying is that the older more skilled worker should not be paid redundancy to stop them from leaving. Despite someone who is fifty years old and has worked for a company for thirty years only legally having to be paid less than ten grand redundancy? If you think they do not even deserve this you are wrong and once again I refer you the the governments own redundancy calculator.
      Your no leaving money policy would also apply the the head of companies? I doubt it.
      Many of the BAE systems redundancy recipients will be telling Britain’s bosses to ram it and moving abroad. What incentives should these people be given to stay in this country? The right person in the right job is often said by company bosses looking for fools and complaining they cannot find the right people despite offering the market rate. Who’s market rate? Different story when the companies are being sacked because they are not paying enough and being given a strike they understand. In this case they pay themselves massive amounts to attract the right people.

  4. Mark Wadsworth
    Posted September 27, 2011 at 7:28 am | Permalink

    Yes, there are far too many “psots” in the public sector.

    But as ever, it’s the corporatists we ought to worry about first. For every £1 spent on public sector salaries and pensions, there’s £1.60 being spent on ‘private sector procurement’.

    • A different Simon
      Posted September 28, 2011 at 12:22 am | Permalink

      Thanks for reminding us MW .

      It’s no surprise the man in the street can’t get anywhere with all these parasites troughing .

  5. alan jutson
    Posted September 27, 2011 at 8:00 am | Permalink

    Yes I saw it too.

    What they are saying is in effect.

    At the present time we have nobody in the organisation who is capable of being promoted to the job in question.


    The alternative stance, that they already have someone in line who they want to promote, but for idealogical, or policy reasons have to advertise the position to outsiders (who will never ever get the position, but who’s time may be wasted attending a set up interview) to satisfy their “fair recruitment policy”to make it look like they have trawled the market, which I am given to understand is commonplace practice within government, local authority and similar positions.

    Ps. Thrown paper away now, but also thought position was responsible for 400 staff.

    What does Vince Cables department do ?

    • lifelogic
      Posted September 27, 2011 at 8:37 am | Permalink

      What does Vince Cables department do ?

      Over regulate UK business and thus push much of it abroad.

    • outsider
      Posted September 27, 2011 at 1:57 pm | Permalink

      The obvious solution is just to nominate someone from within as “Acting Head …” indefinitely and save the higher salary as well as all the recruitment costs.

  6. lojolondon
    Posted September 27, 2011 at 8:16 am | Permalink

    You are dead right John – how is it possible that the public sector is still growing. No wonder the police and nurses – who should be exactly the last people to feel the cuts – are complaining. Especially as this admin manager seems bound to enjoy the salary of 5 nurses / policemen.

    • A different Simon
      Posted September 28, 2011 at 12:34 am | Permalink

      Take a look at Police remuneration package on their website before assuming they are not well paid .

      Consider reading Neil Records “Sir Humphreys Legacy” which presents the actuarial calculations for working out the real cost of public sector pensions .

      A met police constable would be comfortably into higher rate tax territory after only 1 year of service if the true cost of the pensions rights they receive is taken into account .

      Add in overtime , permanent sick leave and early retirement at 49 due to “ill health” whilst being credited with full pension rights and they aren’t doing badly at all .

      Some Met Constables who really putting in the hours earned over £100k per year not including pensions rights .

  7. Nick Millward
    Posted September 27, 2011 at 8:45 am | Permalink

    The thing is John, aren’t half of these jobs, ones that they have to advertise because of civil service rules, regardless of whether they already have a candidate in house?

    • lifelogic
      Posted September 27, 2011 at 10:16 am | Permalink

      Indeed going through the motion of advertising. To ensure “fairness” for all sections of the community even when you often know who will get the job is very common indeed. It also creates the need for lots more pointless people whose “job” is to go through these pointless motions in a fair, non judgemental, gender (etc.) neutral, manner and liaise, coordinate and ensure this is done according to all the usually conflicting and ambiguous, legal constraints and guidance notes from the UK, EU legislation and departments.

      Doubtless why we now need so many more lawyers now than we ever did.

      • Bazman
        Posted September 27, 2011 at 9:06 pm | Permalink

        I wonder how many of these ‘pointless’ jobs exist in the private sector. I mean what would the chaps do without them especially when that private sector job has only one customer. The taxpayer.

    • alan jutson
      Posted September 27, 2011 at 10:16 am | Permalink

      Nick very true, as I also mentioned.
      Its a waste of everyones time, effort, and money, and very often leads to unsuitable people being given the job, by other unsuitable people who appoint them, and who are already in a position of influence and power/control, because they got there the same way.
      The effect is that we have a whole range of people who are totally unsuitable for a whole range of jobs, thus the work culture continues as before.

      After all, do not want to employ and outsider, who may have Private industry experience and who may rock the boat.

  8. BrianSJ
    Posted September 27, 2011 at 8:59 am | Permalink
  9. Paul H
    Posted September 27, 2011 at 9:38 am | Permalink

    Sometimes the government doesn’t listen …

  10. Gary
    Posted September 27, 2011 at 10:50 am | Permalink

    I used to think UKTI was a good idea. They produce an annual report of the jobs created and safeguarded by Foreign Direct Investment. It sounded great (though the numbers are actually tiny compared with the numbers of jobs created and destroyed in the UK every year).

    However I found out through some FOI that the numbers are estimates provided by businesses investing in the UK and there is no checking. It is not in UKTI’s interests to check.

    The best example of the inaccuracy of the numbers is the Kraft takeover of Cadbury. UKTI attributed 3,000 safeguarded jobs to this in their report. In reality, over 600 jobs were lost within a year with many more redundancies likely to happen.

    • outsider
      Posted September 27, 2011 at 1:52 pm | Permalink

      Wow. If UKTI really thinks that Kraft’s takeover of one of the safest businesses in Britain was a success for government policy, that is outrageous. Since the takeover was made by tax-deductible borrowings (partly from state-controlled RBS) and Cadbury UK was converted, in effect into a contract manufacturing operation for a Swiss company, the loss of tax revenue from this transaction alone is probably more than the benefits of any good things UKTI does.

  11. Ralph Musgrave
    Posted September 27, 2011 at 11:09 am | Permalink

    On a closely related topic, public sector workers have taken to marching around with nauseating little banners saying “Fair pensions for all”. For all??? They’re after better pensions for themselves – paid for (inevitably) by the rest of the country and possibly in the form of WORSE pensions for the rest of the country.

    • lifelogic
      Posted September 27, 2011 at 3:08 pm | Permalink

      State sector pension “pots” were about ten times the private sector average last time I looked. All being paid for by the majority in the private sector mugged (by Brown’s pension tax) who have these lower pots. Also salaries are higher, holidays more, sick days more, productivity far less, working condition better, pay offs better and working times more convenient. Mind you it must be very depressing working in such an environment and having to learn all that silly “non judgemental” right on language they all seem to speak (all the libdems seem to speak it too I notice).

      “Fair pensions for all sure” sure.

      • uanime5
        Posted September 27, 2011 at 3:51 pm | Permalink

        Companies could contribute more to their employees pensions, rather than the managers pensions. They choose not to. Guess why.

        • Jer
          Posted September 27, 2011 at 3:59 pm | Permalink

          Because they don’t need to, in order to attract staff of the necessary quality.

          This is of course true of the public sector too.

        • lifelogic
          Posted September 27, 2011 at 4:24 pm | Permalink

          The cannot afford to as it would clearly put them at a competitive disadvantage with higher overall wage costs and other companies perhaps overseas would then take the business from them.

          Simple as that.

          • uanime5
            Posted September 27, 2011 at 8:49 pm | Permalink

            Unless all companies in the UK had to do this. Then they would all be equally disadvantaged.

            Also not all companies can be outsourced overseas. The services industry is very firmly rooted to this country.

          • Bazman
            Posted September 27, 2011 at 9:10 pm | Permalink

            They cannot afford anything on that basis and the sooner child labour laws are repealed the sooner they can get some money for their families. Many pensions where reduced by companies as a way of increasing profits. Lowering state workers pension because of this to match the private ones is clearly wrong. You constantly believe the crock that companies making more money will somehow share the profits with the workforce or invest the money to create more jobs paying better wages.

  12. forthurst
    Posted September 27, 2011 at 1:11 pm | Permalink

    I’m sure the government have been told by the civil service that reducing the size of the civil service is impractical: if the government genuinely wants to change this country for the better (for which there is little evidence), it needs to remove all legal and procedural constraints on its scope for action rather than stumbling round an obstacle race created by prior misgovernment directed from both Westminster and the Central Commmittee of the EUSSR in Brussels.

    • lifelogic
      Posted September 27, 2011 at 4:28 pm | Permalink

      I agree no sign, as yet, that they are serious and 30% of the sand in the electoral egg timer has gone already.

  13. Bernard Otway
    Posted September 27, 2011 at 2:10 pm | Permalink

    One flew over the Cuckoo’s nest,the idiots are really in charge of the Asylum,I say this even though I may be Ed.

  14. Winston Smith
    Posted September 27, 2011 at 3:44 pm | Permalink

    I’ve not seen those adverts, but an equivalent ad in a Sunday Newspaper for an executive role would cost in the region of £5-£15k, depending on the size and design of the ad. The Quango or Govt Dept HR team would outsource the role to a favoured recruitment agency, who would then use their favoured advertising agency to place the advert with the publishers. The Govt could save taxpayers money by advertising on websites – cost 10 times cheaper – or running their own Public Sector recruitment website. This was raised by the conservatives at the last election. What happened? Frightened of upsetting the Guardian?

    The recruitment agency would charge a minimum of 25% for senior roles. You are probably talking about £50k to recruit a £130k socialist bureaucrat, that’s before the cost of the highly paid HR team (who outsourced their work).

    • lifelogic
      Posted September 27, 2011 at 4:35 pm | Permalink

      Indeed if all state sector jobs went on one web site then everyone would clearly look there. They must just like keeping the Guardian and similar in business and wasting the money. Perhaps to retain some political influence over them?

      Mind you they would doubtless have to spend about £50M on consultants to set up the web site – rather than do it for under £5,000 pounds as everyone else does.

  15. uanime5
    Posted September 27, 2011 at 3:54 pm | Permalink

    Perhaps the Government should implement a series of pay scale grades so that they can control exactly how much everyone in the state sector is paid in any job.

    They use this system in France to control salary levels.

    • A different Simon
      Posted September 28, 2011 at 12:48 am | Permalink

      They have pay scales in almost all parts of the public sector in the UK too , certainly for normal grades , maybe not for the people at the very top .

      These jobs J.R. has hilighted look to be in the grey area outside what people would probably consider public sector i.e. quango’s . Unelected and unnaccountable .

      Their business is typically providing consultancy to other quangos who then provide consultancy to them within a closed system .

      Jobs for the boys ; ex-MP’s and others from that social strata .

  16. Geoff not Hoons
    Posted September 27, 2011 at 4:25 pm | Permalink

    Mr.Redwood, It is perhaps a good thing you do not have the time to peruse the main recruitment agency web sites to see the present very large number of civil service/quango/council non jobs being advertised at these and higher salaries otherwise you would choke even more!. I feel sure you do see The Economist each week where the DFID are regularly advertising for directors of this and that at ‘appropriate remuneration’. Their wording doesnt say but perhaps should, we have squillions of tax payers money to burn, come and join the party of how to burn it’.

  17. Steve Whitfield
    Posted September 27, 2011 at 11:19 pm | Permalink

    Indeed there are more than enough managers. No doubt nurses will be laid off and meals on wheels services scapped just to show how wicked the ‘cuts’ are.

    George Osbourne’s unhinged pre-election pledge to copy Labour spending plans is telling. A cornerstone of the party, that the individual can spend their own money more wisely than the state discarded for short term political advantage. So why should we be surprised that the party command hasn’t suddenly become enraged about other peoples money being thrown about like confetti?

    We know enough about the coalition for this not to even raise an eyebrow. It was pretty much business as usual after the election with a bit of window dressing.

    Mr Redwood,I think you should brace yourself for more for more bad news if you find this shocking – stubbornly high immigration , jaw dropping government borrowing figures and the march of political correctness will all continue as they would have under a Labour government.

  18. Catherine Reynolds
    Posted September 28, 2011 at 9:20 am | Permalink

    The advertisement for trustees for the Institute of Food Research makes it absolutely clear that these are unpaid positions. They are NOT ‘administrative’. IFR as a registered charity and a company limited by guarantee is REQUIRED to have Trustees by law, and under the ‘Nolan’ arrangements, their appointment is public.

  19. David Hearnshaw
    Posted September 28, 2011 at 11:48 am | Permalink

    We have a government that pours money down the black hole of foreign aid and the `EU’ but cuts defence and law and order spending. The continued profligacy of the public sector is no real surprise. I have never been more disappointed in a so called Tory government (Well, perhaps Heath!) One despairs!

  • About John Redwood

    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, and graduated from Magdalen College Oxford. He is a Distinguished fellow of All Souls, Oxford. A businessman by background, he has set up an investment management business, was both executive and non executive chairman of a quoted industrial PLC, and chaired a manufacturing company with factories in Birmingham, Chicago, India and China. He is the MP for Wokingham, first elected in 1987.

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