Managing the public sector

There are a number of worries about the day to day management of public services by Departments and quangos. Ministers are responsible for policy decisions , for budget priorities and new legislation. They rely on the goodwill and abilities of many officials to supervise the day to day running of existing policies, to hire good people, to buy in necessary stocks, to distribute benefits, collect taxes and provide licences and approvals.

We have seen in recent months parts of the public sector struggling to carry out regular functions, It is true the lock downs were disruptive, but most of the things government needed to do could be carried out from home with suitable computer back up, and by a limited number of key workers continuing to go into offices and other government installations.

I have drawn attention in past blogs to the big shortfall in normal NHS work , and the shortage of work sent to the private hospitals which were contracted to undertake some of it. As the CV 19 hospital numbers came down there was a slowness in creating isolating units for the remaining CV 19 patients and returning most NHS capacity to the other needs. It appears the NHS is still well below capacity on many specialities , and it is taking time to restore full GP services in some locations.

It appears that the Passport Office allowed a substantial backlog to build up for UK passports. This is something which allows on line applications and processing and should be compatible with more homeworking. I also learn from the media that there is a backlog in issuing provisional driving licences to new drivers. Again it is difficult to see why this could not be done remotely.

I have not had reports of failures to issue cash payments to furlough employers, to benefit seekers or to small businesses under the new scheme. It shows that some parts of government were able to deal with large new surges in demand and to implement new programmes rapidly. It makes the failures in established areas more surprising.

We saw the failure of Public Health England to buy enough protective clothing and to establish a strong enough test regime quickly. We are now witnessing Ofqual’s inability to implement a policy which does uphold standards whilst being fair to young people when the ability to take examinations was removed.

I would be interested in your examples of where the public sector responded well to new circumstances, and where it failed even in areas where it was simply meant to be doing what it had always done, adapted to more homeworking and social distancing.

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. Both comments and trackbacks are currently closed.


  1. Stephen Priest
    Posted August 18, 2020 at 5:20 am | Permalink

    Ultimately we seen the failure of a Prime Minister so scared of any short term bad publicity he’s been pushed to make so many bad decisions due to press hysteria.

    For example closing schools, even though the scientists constantly told us schools were safe.

    Supermarkets stayed open throughout why not schools.

    More and more freedoms are being trashed. Soon it will be impossible to go abroad unless you want to be put under a draconian house arrest for the privilege.

    • Sea Warrior
      Posted August 18, 2020 at 6:05 am | Permalink

      Good point about the supermarkets. I’m not aware of a single death in my local ‘big name’ store and the same faces (many ‘getting on’) are still at the tills; the nearest general hospital hasn’t had a single COVID death in nearly three months. The worshipping of the NHS took on North Korean characteristics – but I’m just as grateful for the likes of the supermarket workers who kept us fed.

      • NickC
        Posted August 18, 2020 at 10:36 am | Permalink

        Sea Warrior said: “The worshipping of the NHS took on North Korean characteristics”. Indeed it did. I was appalled by the apparent willingness of people to “clap” the NHS. It shows how readily we as a society would succumb to authoritarian rule – and it was voluntary! That didn’t stop the snitches and bullies though – just as in communist east Europe.

        • Hope
          Posted August 18, 2020 at 4:22 pm | Permalink

          Between 1-7 and 1-10 civil servants still not back to work despite Johnson asking them. Says it all.

        • Anonymous
          Posted August 18, 2020 at 5:12 pm | Permalink

          I wasn’t ‘willing’ and (like wearing a face mask) it gets really tiresome having to argue with ‘Karens’.

    • Gramp
      Posted August 18, 2020 at 6:52 am | Permalink

      Maybe schools were safe from the point of view of the pupil. I think that they would have contributed to the further spread had they remained open with more vulnerable people/parents etc. catching it and not surviving.
      We all need to buy food, so supermarkets had to stay open. With thought and careful planning most managed to make social distancing easy to achieve whilst shopping. They have the benefit of wide aisles and even in normal times they are not usually as dense with people as a typical classroom or school bus.

      • a-tracy
        Posted August 18, 2020 at 8:05 am | Permalink

        They just needed to keep the most important tested years open Gramp, the GCSE year and the A level test year in exam conditions, desks spaced apart and invigilators wearing safety equipment most exams are under two hours. Private sector exam testers went back to work and tests went underway in exam conditions.

        Our public sector is under no price pressure to deliver the service they’re paid to supply. They get total payment regardless.

      • Sir Joe Soap
        Posted August 18, 2020 at 8:29 am | Permalink

        Well we all need doctors from time to time, so why didn’t they remain open? Their self-employed status is shown to be somewhat mythical. When you’re paid for patients whom you won’t make any effort to meet and examine, this claim is tendentious to say the least.
        Imagine a self-employed decorator or bricklayer working from home directing you where to paint or lay bricks over Zoom, because they dare not come into your house!

        But teachers must take the biscuit. Now expecting self-employed tutors to help them “catch-up” on work they could have been doing during lockdown, and thereafter.

        • a-tracy
          Posted August 18, 2020 at 3:09 pm | Permalink

          Teacher’s have ‘catch up’ work, why do they? Surely they spend covid at home time lesson planning for when they returned to work, the blimin cheek of it. The government will conceed – we are controlled now by the Union workforce, money for nothing.

      • Caterpillar
        Posted August 18, 2020 at 9:23 am | Permalink

        Schools could at least have stayed open for the exams. Studentscare unidirectional and spaced for exams. With other parts of the school closed there would have been more room. Fit, younger people could have been used as invigilators.

        • a-tracy
          Posted August 18, 2020 at 3:09 pm | Permalink

          Germany did!

        • dixie
          Posted August 18, 2020 at 4:36 pm | Permalink

          There were also libraries and sports centres available. More than enough space to socially separate the youngsters and envigilators safely.

          So why didn’t the educational establishment, not just the government, strive to make it happen.

          Clearly the youngsters futures were not important enough. to disturb the fully paid, extended holidays the public employees were enjoying.

      • Stephen Priest
        Posted August 18, 2020 at 9:40 am | Permalink

        It is very important to work things out for ourselves and not believe everything we are told. Some people have risked stepping into the paths of vehicles to “social distance” from me.

        Over 28,ooo people died of flu in the winter of 2014/2015 in the UK .

        We’ve destroyed the world economy in the name of Covid 19 which is no more deadly that the flu.

        • glen cullen
          Posted August 18, 2020 at 8:38 pm | Permalink


      • NickC
        Posted August 18, 2020 at 10:46 am | Permalink

        Gramp, Covid19 seriously affects those with existing morbidities and the elderly. Neither children, nor most teachers fall into that category. Schools should have been kept open, or at the very least re-opened after the Easter holidays.

        The lockdown has real consequences that too many people will not face. Instead they hide behind sneers that lockdown sceptics like myself “don’t care about people dying”. But then when the consequences hit home – the loss of formal education now, and the economic disaster waiting in the wings – they will not take responsibility.

        • villaking
          Posted August 18, 2020 at 5:56 pm | Permalink

          NickC: I don’t agree with many of your views but hear hear in this well expressed contribution.

      • John Hatfield
        Posted August 18, 2020 at 2:15 pm | Permalink

        I read somewhere that children don’t catch Covid 19 so readily nor do they pass it on to adults. Can’t remember where, I’m sorry.
        But if what I read is true then all the more reason why schools should have remained open or at least pupils returned earlier.

    • bigneil(newercomp)
      Posted August 18, 2020 at 8:43 am | Permalink

      Get ready for the compulsory micro-chip injected, to let shops etc know whether to admit you.

      • Lynn Atkinson
        Posted August 18, 2020 at 4:46 pm | Permalink

        I went to Ikea today. No mask, no problem.

    • Peter
      Posted August 18, 2020 at 9:17 am | Permalink

      A prime minister who likes the prestige and power of the job but is – at best – lazy and ineffectual.

      If you thought the personable buffoon act was just a calculated show for the media you know better now.

      • NickC
        Posted August 18, 2020 at 4:34 pm | Permalink

        Hmm, I think it’s more like Heidegger (“the old Heidegger is the new Heidegger”): the old(er) Boris is the new Boris. He does not appear to be the man he was. Though you might say he is not the man he once appeared to be.

        • Fred H
          Posted August 18, 2020 at 8:13 pm | Permalink

          but then he did appear to be a buffoon, we thought just for the audience, now perhaps millions are not so sure…

    • rose
      Posted August 18, 2020 at 10:12 pm | Permalink

      “Supermarkets stayed open throughout why not schools.”

      Supermarkets wanted to stay open and their profits soared. Their prices went up too.

      Teachers and their unions didn’t want the schools to stay open, nor did many mothers after the media had panicked them. Too many wanted to stay at home and teachers were paid 100% for that. It was not in Government’s power to compel schools to stay open. As with so much else that didn’t go as it should have done, people seem to think the Government much more powerful than it is. Post Blair and his heirs power has been devolved away to other bodies. All the Government could do to get the schools to stay open and now to open was and is to cajole.

    • Martin in Cardiff
      Posted August 19, 2020 at 7:45 pm | Permalink

      I wonder if John could clearly state something – anything – for which he accepts that this government are actually responsible?

      Reply The government is responsible for the management of the large public sector. Government includes senior officials and chief executives as well as Ministers. Which should be sacked for individual failures is a matter of debate.

  2. Lifelogic
    Posted August 18, 2020 at 5:24 am | Permalink

    I have no complaints about the furlough scheme that does I agree seem to have worked well.

    It is however common to ring HMRC and wait for half an hour or so only to have them ditch the call and demand you call back later. I filed a CGT notification form to them last week and the system requestion me to send some futher information to an HMRC email address they gave. I did so and got an email back saying it no longer worked but it did not suggest one that did work.

    Not at all uncommon to get a letter from HMRC or other government departments with phone numbers on that simply do not work. Also if you do manage to get through to HMRC help lines the people answering often do not have a clue. But then the tax system is so absurdly complex (probably doubling in complexity even since the Office of Tax Simplification was formed by the economic illiterate George Osborne!

    • oldtimer
      Posted August 18, 2020 at 6:34 am | Permalink

      The problem of long waiting times to speak to someone on the telephone is not confined to government departments. Attempts to make meaningful contact with staff at HSBC have been frustrating in the extreme – long delays in getting an answer, being abruptly cut off when one does get to speak to someone being but two recent cases.

      Our GP service is also significantly degraded. After being advised to send a photo of suspected melanoma to the practice, on enquiry a few days later it turned out that the secretarial staff had not even bothered to show it to the doctor!

      Businesses, as well as state bodies, who think they can carry on with remote working without consequences have another think coming.

      • a-tracy
        Posted August 19, 2020 at 9:01 am | Permalink

        Lodge a complaint on your practice website, it is only if patients are prepared to write out a letter of complaint that things will get dealt with properly because they get assessed on that.

    • formula57
      Posted August 18, 2020 at 6:57 am | Permalink

      HMRC I have always found sensible and fair, if sometimes rather slow, but in the last four or five years it has started making mistakes. These, all pleasingly in my favour, have been corrected upon my giving notice but it is disappointing that error can now be expected.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted August 18, 2020 at 7:52 am | Permalink

        A couple of years back I wrote a letters to them over some error (with two more copy chasing letters) – no response at so eventually I rang them. They looked at the file had all three letter but had simply filed and ignored them all.

        The various tentacles of the state sector creates so much pointless work and wasted time for the productive sector that it is surprising the private sector have time to produce anything much. They ministers complain of low productivity when they are the main cause.

      • John Hatfield
        Posted August 18, 2020 at 2:19 pm | Permalink

        Last year my wife received a cheque for £14,000. Apparently HMRC had been underpaying her OAP for circa 15 years. At least the mistake was in the right direction!

        • Lifelogic
          Posted August 19, 2020 at 4:04 pm | Permalink

          My mother too had that she too deferred drawing it and they failed to adjust as they should have. Doubtless many other were short changed for years.

    • a-tracy
      Posted August 18, 2020 at 8:06 am | Permalink

      Can you e-mail them and get a response to any query in 24 hours or not?

      • Lifelogic
        Posted August 19, 2020 at 4:05 pm | Permalink


    • A.Sedgwick
      Posted August 18, 2020 at 8:56 am | Permalink

      From the outset I felt the furlough scheme was overgenerous and unfair to the less well off. A bigger permanent increase to UC recipients would have been better balanced, better use of the national debt and a perfect example of leveling up. The reality is many on furlough will be made redundant, a classic government hope and pray policy.

      • a-tracy
        Posted August 18, 2020 at 3:16 pm | Permalink

        Unfair to the less well off? They got 80% of their normal pay for nothing! Their expenses on travel to work, food purchased out of home reduced. I totally disagree.
        There were bonus payments made to UC recipients £1000 up front tax and ni free for nothing. So an increase on what they usually lived on and there was nothing other than food to buy?

        There was a cap on furlough which affected higher earning, higher tax paying individuals. Those regularly earning over £50k got nothing. Those paying themself dividends got nothing. So people who regularly do nothing got more than usual and you don’t think that is fair – Why?

      • Narrow Shoulders
        Posted August 18, 2020 at 7:39 pm | Permalink

        Universal credit is reduced and then withdrawn from anyone with reasonable savings.

        Using Universal credit instead of furlough would destroyed the jobs that may now remain and ensured that the prudent had to use their savings to live while the less prudent did not.

        Universal credit was not the answer to this overreaction

    • NigelE
      Posted August 18, 2020 at 9:07 am | Permalink

      My recent experience with HMRC was positive when I had a query on CGT calculation.

      On their website I noted they did not give details of contacting by email (my usual favorite for contacting such organisations rather than generally time-wasting telephone calls) but did say that I could use Twitter. So I opened a Twitter account and send them my first ever tweet. I had a response – not automated – within 30 mins thanking me for my contact but that the responder would need to seek further advice and would get back to me. Which they did within 36 hours, with the info I needed.

      I was rather impressed!

    • NickC
      Posted August 18, 2020 at 10:51 am | Permalink

      When I was in business I found the income tax section (Revenue) of HMRC was staffed by helpful people. Unfortunately I found the VAT side (previously Customs and Excise) to be thoroughly unpleasant.

  3. Adam
    Posted August 18, 2020 at 5:27 am | Permalink

    One wonders what the Dickens is going on. In the worst of times the Education Secretary acted like Uriah Heep understudying for Sidney Carton, then did a U-turn at the gate.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted August 18, 2020 at 6:12 am | Permalink

      A U turn that now means the honest schools and their pupils have been kicked in the teeth and the ones that were (to say the least) somewhat optimistic have been hugely rewarded. Over all it seems we have 25% more A and A*s awarded. So a huge unfairness for the honest schools and the pupils at them.

      We now it seems need a new algorithm to find the honest schools and lift their grades up. If say 50% of the pupils were at honest schools and 50% not then the unfair uplift at the ‘optimistic’ ones in A and A* might be 50% or more.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted August 18, 2020 at 8:01 am | Permalink

        In effect this U-turn means many children have (in effect) had the algorithm applied by the (more honest) schools. These applied the rules they were given to avoid grade inflation. With many getting lower grades than they would have received through examination). This while others have had the real algorithm removed and have thus benefited from circa 50%+ increase in A and A* for pupils at their (more “optimistic” or dishonest) schools.

        How can this be remotely fair?

    • Sea Warrior
      Posted August 18, 2020 at 6:12 am | Permalink

      Briefly, the algorithm’s moderation of outrageous predictions by teachers took us near to a ‘least bad’ position, after the awful initial decision to cancel exams. Now we have the decision where the students get to choose the result they want. This will lead to substantial grade-inflation and more students going on to an ill-deserved and inappropriate university place.
      Sir John, a suitable theme for your next back-benchers’ meeting is ‘The process of government: why is this one doing it so badly?’ You need to get to the heart of the process issues and force change on No 10, otherwise a great many of your colleagues are going to be sacked in 2024.

      • a-tracy
        Posted August 18, 2020 at 8:10 am | Permalink

        I wonder if the teens that fail their first quarter grade check and have to leave the course because they can’t cope can get their student tuition fee loan back?

        These teens may all think inflated grades are great but ill-prepared for serious degrees they can’t cope with will just cause lots of mental stress for them. Universities are going to have to teach weaker candidates online! What an utter avoidable mess.

        • Fred H
          Posted August 18, 2020 at 6:47 pm | Permalink

          a very good point a-tracy. A large debt, sense of failure and return home disillusioned!

      • turboterrier
        Posted August 18, 2020 at 8:34 am | Permalink

        Sea Warrior

        The rate at which they are performing at present they will never make it to 2024. We need real sound experienced and knowledgeable with a degree with honours from the universities of life and knocks, success and failures and job related qualifications to lead and pick usup anddriveus forward.

      • NickC
        Posted August 18, 2020 at 10:56 am | Permalink

        Sea Warrior, Why is the process of government being done so badly? Because it is done by bureaucrats. That’s why we had privatisations in the 1980s/90s. People forget how horrendous is the bureaucratic mind, and we have to re-learn it every couple of generations.

        • Fred H
          Posted August 18, 2020 at 6:50 pm | Permalink

          unless we see a turnaround pretty damn quick, I’m becoming alarmed at the likely state this Government will leave for others to sort out – probably mission impossible.
          Poisoned chalice isn’t even in it!

    • Ian @Barkham
      Posted August 18, 2020 at 6:25 am | Permalink

      As Sir John said, governments are responsible for policies. Those policies are put forward by those that have to implement them. The Education Secretary was advised by the Quango Ofqual Board who set standards then police who well they(the Board) is doing.

      The flaw in the system is the Quango, they cant be advisors and policemen of themselves.

      • Ian @Barkham
        Posted August 18, 2020 at 7:55 am | Permalink

        then police how well they(the Board) is doing.

      • David Brown
        Posted August 18, 2020 at 5:14 pm | Permalink

        I agree with your comments, the big problem I have is Gov Ministers need to be more selective in their choice of words for press/tv statements so they don’t dig a big hole for them selves when the system does not live up to the hype.

  4. Lifelogic
    Posted August 18, 2020 at 5:33 am | Permalink

    The problem with the state sector in general is they have no interest in providing anything of value to the public at all, so usually they do not. They are largely run for the benefit of the people who work there. Mainly the more senior ones. To them the public are just a nuisance to be deterred (or just something to be taxed, fined, mugged and over regulated (to justify their jobs). They are not paying customer they have your money already from taxes.

    The only protection from this are Government Ministers and politicians (they vote for every five years or so) but these “protections” are so weak and ineffective it is almost completely useless. This is we we need far, far less state sector.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted August 18, 2020 at 6:14 am | Permalink

      Sorry I meant – Thus we need far, far less state sector.

    • Javelin
      Posted August 18, 2020 at 8:16 am | Permalink

      The average age of people dying with COVID19 yesterday was 83.5.
      There were two of them. Aged 81 and 86.

      The public sector have completely lost their way and have no idea about the real world.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted August 18, 2020 at 3:04 pm | Permalink

        Indeed but it was a Monday so the figures are always to low the current average daily death rate is more like 13 with about 1200 new cases each day. So deaths now seem to only be just over 1% rather than the 14% we had at the peak.

        Deaths each day in the UK are about 1,400 so 13 is sad but not very significant. Get people back to school and work now.

    • NickC
      Posted August 18, 2020 at 11:23 am | Permalink

      Lifelogic, The lack of sense and practicality – which appears always absent from the bureaucratic system – results in ordinary people, and even the bureaucrats themselves, eventually ignoring government edicts whilst putting on a show of obedience.

      This was demonstrated by a proverb from the Soviet Socialist era: “We’ll pretend to work, if you pretend to pay us”. Thus does a centralised dirigiste bureaucrat-run state go wrong, by entrenching dishonesty first in government then in the rest of society.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted August 18, 2020 at 3:05 pm | Permalink


  5. SM
    Posted August 18, 2020 at 5:35 am | Permalink

    I have 2 pensioner friends who live in an urbanised area of Essex, both of whom need Blue Badges. In case 1, a woman has had many years of serious on-going health problems resulting in permanent disablement and the need for regular surgical procedures. In case 2, a man has recently had his leg amputated.

    The Local Authority is acting in a determinedly obstructive way, demanding ever-more complex proof that the health conditions are permanent from an NHS which appears to be ‘running on empty’. Both applicants appreciate that Blue Badges can be used fraudulently and that due care must be taken when issuing them.

    • Sea Warrior
      Posted August 18, 2020 at 6:18 am | Permalink

      A relative of mine lost her leg, above the knee, after the NHS (the state), failed to detect a blood-clot. Subsequently, she spent two months in a rehabilitation centre (the state). When she wanted her Blue Badge, the local council (the state) demanded that she hobble in to their offices (the state) so that she could prove that she had a valid claim. I think I would have been tempted to remove my prosthetic and slam it down onto the council officer’s desk!

      • Fred H
        Posted August 18, 2020 at 6:52 pm | Permalink

        or shove it somewhere far more painful.

    • Mike Wilson
      Posted August 18, 2020 at 6:21 am | Permalink

      My local council (Dorset) recently reissued my wife’s blue badge efficiently and helpfully. So, no complaints there. Mind you, we never use a disabled parking space if a standard parking space is available and I would not dream of using one if my wife is not with me.

      That said, many councils expect blue badge holder’s to pay draconian parking charges. My wife cannot work. She receives no benefits. My brother, when he was alive, was on diasability benefits after cancers operations left him disabled. His motability car was the only thing that kept him sane, but he lived on beans on toast as some of his benefits went on the car. Quite how councils expected him to find the money for parking charges puzzled me. They are money-grabbing, heartless bastards.

    • a-tracy
      Posted August 18, 2020 at 8:13 am | Permalink

      Yet I know someone that got a blue badge easily for an ADHD teenage child, that child at 17 passed their driving test and down drives a car completely unaffected by his adhd apparently.

      • Fred H
        Posted August 19, 2020 at 7:51 am | Permalink

        it only has an effect in the classroom!

    • Old person
      Posted August 18, 2020 at 9:49 am | Permalink

      It is a great pity that public sector workers are uncaring, unable to think and make their own decisions.
      I pushed my disabled mother in a wheel chair to the town hall. Yes, there was a disabled ramp but unfortunately the elevator was out of action (had been for some weeks). My mother was abandoned on the ground floor and I climbed the stairs to the 2nd floor office. They would not issue the blue badge and said my mother would have to come to the office in person. You can imagine the words that were said. Nobody was prepared to go down the stairs to my mother. Their attitude changed when I asked if they knew whether the Local Gazette Office (500m away) had a disabled ramp. Someone then came down and the blue badge was issued.
      Individual public sector workers can be fantastic performing their duties, but once a group forms the responsibilities and decisions are shared and the rot sets in. The caring is replaced by penny-pinching from the budgets.

    Posted August 18, 2020 at 5:38 am | Permalink

    I require the renewal of my driving licence following its removal after a period of epilepsy. I applied 3 months ago and yesterday received a letter stating that I would need a medical appointment with my GP to assess my condition but UNFORTUNATELY that cannot be organised at present due to CV-19. This is a pathetic and unreasonable excuse.

    I am seeing a unionised, highly political, highly partisan, unreformed, couldn’t give a toss public sector concerned with feather-bedding their employees, expanding their budgets and politicising CV19 to extract favours from a weak and spineless Tory government to protect them from reform.

    Your government is directly to blame. The unionised public sector saw your liberal left govt fall to its knees Kowtowing to Labour’s NHS and thought ‘we can have this soft arsed Tory government for breakfast’ and that’s what we are seeing.

    Your government has hung the private sector, the private taxpayer and the public out to dry to pacify the left, the unions and the leftist media.

    The public sector has always been bolshy and unresponsive. Your party’s capitulation to it and your refusal to reform McCluskey’s fiefdom exposes all of us to hostage status.

    Thatcher warned of a large political State and Labour’s strategy of creating dependency to assert control over our lives and her prescience has been validated. I bet she never thought her own party would be the executor of this form of destructive Socialism

    Tory MPs never attack the unions or the public sector for their appalling behaviour. That tells its own story about just how far you will go to save your own skin

    • Lynn Atkinson
      Posted August 18, 2020 at 6:21 am | Permalink

      You are broadly right, but things wrong:
      1. It’s not JR’s government – sadly
      2. Mrs T knew what the Tory Party was and would not be in the least surprised at their behaviour – it was always only a very few ‘old whigs’ who kept it palatable, when they were powerful. Now the old whigs like JR are not powerful within the Party so we have this cataclysmic disaster.
      I don’t know why Andy and MiC are not deliriously happy. This is their politics in action.

      • NickC
        Posted August 18, 2020 at 4:45 pm | Permalink

        Lynn A, Just so. Indeed Mrs T was an “old Whig”. As for the Remains remaining on here – they’ve seen their arguments ridiculed and their lack of facts exposed, so have been reduced to the position of house trolls. What they should have done, of course, was accept the democratic result of the Referendum and then attack the poor implementation. We have all lost as a result of their error of judgement.

    • Ian @Barkham
      Posted August 18, 2020 at 6:26 am | Permalink


    • BOF
      Posted August 18, 2020 at 7:25 am | Permalink


    • Arthur Wrightiss
      Posted August 18, 2020 at 7:36 am | Permalink

      Absolutely correct. This Government has been a massive,and unexpected, disappointment.

    • JoolsB
      Posted August 18, 2020 at 7:39 am | Permalink


    • a-tracy
      Posted August 18, 2020 at 8:17 am | Permalink

      Dominic is a bit more colourful than I’d be but I agree with the thrust of his post.

      On your knees

    • A.Sedgwick
      Posted August 18, 2020 at 8:49 am | Permalink

      Fully agree, the public sector and the pseudo versions are the last bastions of the Unions with the usual unfairness on the majority. Just as well BA is no longer state owned although with JC as PM it could well have been again.

    • Everhopeful
      Posted August 18, 2020 at 9:26 am | Permalink


    • Everhopeful
      Posted August 18, 2020 at 9:38 am | Permalink

      And apparently DVLC have not sent out whatever is needed to renew licence age 70.
      No doubt trying to deter older people from driving?

      • Fred H
        Posted August 18, 2020 at 6:55 pm | Permalink

        well – due to Covid there are a lot fewer of us now!

    • NickC
      Posted August 18, 2020 at 11:27 am | Permalink

      Dominic, Regretfully true.

    • fedupsoutherner
      Posted August 18, 2020 at 2:25 pm | Permalink

      Best post of the year Dominic.

    • Anonymous
      Posted August 18, 2020 at 5:19 pm | Permalink

      It’s taken an 80 seat majority to expose the truth. Well, that’s about the only thing it’s been good for so far.

      • Caterpillar
        Posted August 18, 2020 at 9:58 pm | Permalink


    • David Brown
      Posted August 18, 2020 at 5:22 pm | Permalink

      Sadly every one commenting is showing their age and looking backwards all the time. I did need to google to find out what some of the abbreviations meant.
      Its a new world and will constantly keep changing I’m excited for the future because I genuinely feel that in 10 years time this country will have finally changed out of all recognition

      • Fred H
        Posted August 18, 2020 at 8:15 pm | Permalink

        you are showing YOUR age.

  7. Narrow Shoulders
    Posted August 18, 2020 at 5:40 am | Permalink

    It is not just the public sector, sometimes the private sector is inefficient and gets things wrong. But when that happens in the private sector there are consequences, a competitor moves in and people lose their jobs (although as in the public sector the high paid mandarins seem to move on swiftly to other good roles)

    The problem seems to me to be the lack of feedback mechanisms, checks and performance management other than diversity targets. Fill your agencies with good people (from whatever demographic) provide and monitor outputs and then worry about your quotas.

    Its only taxpayers’ money, there will be more along shortly

    • Lifelogic
      Posted August 18, 2020 at 6:30 am | Permalink

      Indeed lack of feed back mechanisms is the problem. Poor private sector companies die from a lack of customers or are bought out and turned round. In the state sector things go on and on and on however dire, incompetent, inefficient or misdirected they are. Often they are also virtual monopolies and actual monopolies too.

      Only one provider of things like passports or driving licences so stand in line, wait months and pay whatever they demand.

      The NHS, BBC, social housing providers, the NHS, state schools, universities are all unfairly subsidised competition to the private sector. So it largely kills competition even where it is far more efficient.

      • Lynn Atkinson
        Posted August 18, 2020 at 5:00 pm | Permalink

        Worse still they are often monopsonies too.

    • a-tracy
      Posted August 18, 2020 at 8:19 am | Permalink

      You should be able to e-mail complaints to every public sector state service provider. They must be observed, sorted and checked on by independent ISO inspectors each year.

    • bigneil(newercomp)
      Posted August 18, 2020 at 8:39 am | Permalink

      “Its only taxpayers’ money, there will be more along shortly” – -just like rubber dinghies.

  8. Mark B
    Posted August 18, 2020 at 5:43 am | Permalink

    Good morning.

    To answer our kind host is query as to why there is such a back log in the Public Sector, one only has to realise that the weather has been really nice, and they no longer had to journey into work every morning and be at there desks at a certain time. In short, they skived off !

    Try that in the Private Sector and see how far that gets you ? Or better still, try being self employed.

    There is no risk to being the Public Sector, only reward. If you want to see better outcomes you are going to have to address this imbalance. One way is through competition. Make the State employees compete for our money, and their wages, against the Private Sector.

    • Ian Wragg
      Posted August 18, 2020 at 6:10 am | Permalink

      Correct. Both my near neighbours work for the public sector and they’ve been having a whale of a time.
      One in particular makes me think if you can do your job from home do they really need you.
      It’s one of those pointless public sector jobs that produces nothing and costs a fortune.

      • fedupsoutherner
        Posted August 18, 2020 at 2:10 pm | Permalink

        +1. Yes I know a few like this too. They are supposed to be working from home and yet whenever I see them they are lazing around either watching TV or drinking coffee with mates while bragging that they have a full salary.

    • Ian @Barkham
      Posted August 18, 2020 at 6:26 am | Permalink


    • Chris Dark
      Posted August 18, 2020 at 7:17 am | Permalink

      My son joined the public sector two years ago as a computer programmer in the ONS. He is working from home now, but has a ton of work and, quite frankly, there is no way that he is sitting around sun-bathing while continuing to suck up full pay. While I agree that many public sector workers seem to be on a jolly, he most certainly is not.

      • Mark B
        Posted August 18, 2020 at 2:58 pm | Permalink

        Thanks Chris, and good for him.

      • Lynn Atkinson
        Posted August 18, 2020 at 5:03 pm | Permalink

        I have a relation who is a n NHS Manager. Been working her socks off from home.
        I’m staggered that they actually work at making such a comprehensive Muck up.
        Perhaps if the could get them onto a beach …

    • Know-Dice
      Posted August 18, 2020 at 7:34 am | Permalink

      +2 🙂

    • a-tracy
      Posted August 18, 2020 at 8:19 am | Permalink

      Correct Mark +1

    • NickC
      Posted August 18, 2020 at 11:45 am | Permalink

      Mark B, Government employees have two advantages: security of employment, and security of position. By security of position I mean there is a specified internal career path, unlike in the private sector where career prospects are often non-existent without moving jobs.

      For these reasons state employees should have substantially lower pay to reflect their lower risk careers. Instead they are paid more. And that’s primarily because the state is so large it makes the state employees unions too powerful. The remedy is obvious: reduce the size of the state. Unfortunately Boris is working the other way.

    • JoolsB
      Posted August 18, 2020 at 12:54 pm | Permalink

      Their pensions should also be subject to the markets like for those in the private sector and not guaranteed at the expense of taxpayers often on much lower pensions than those they are forking out for in the public sector. That should also include politicians’ pensions.

  9. Lifelogic
    Posted August 18, 2020 at 5:47 am | Permalink

    Alas the Education Secretary did not take my advice in full and let the universities decide who to take and who to make resit. So now we have a huge new unfairness.

    The Schools (and pupils at them) who did as they were asked and gave realistic grades (to avoid grade inflation and reflect their schools past performance) have been kicked in the teeth whereas the schools that ignored this instuction & gave over optimistic grades (and the pupils at them) have been hugely rewarded. Overall 25% more A and A*s it seems yet many honest schools have little or no grade inflation.

    But the penalised pupils at these schools have no appeal system or method of redress. Many pupils at the honest schools even had there university predicted grade cut back for this exam board assessment grade.

    • Lynn Atkinson
      Posted August 18, 2020 at 6:23 am | Permalink

      Left to themselves the universities will expand as the NHS has done so that it takes all (the funding it can get). This will only be reversed by paying for graduates only, and then the exams must be set and moderated externally.

      • a-tracy
        Posted August 18, 2020 at 8:24 am | Permalink

        Taxpayers should demand to know how many students five years after they received their degree are paying more than the interest payment for each student loan from each institution before we just keep feeding the growing out of control beast, students entering the course should know the outcome before they take on the course at the moment they buy blind.

        • Lynn Atkinson
          Posted August 18, 2020 at 5:05 pm | Permalink

          +1 – and they are buying with their time and our money! Wasting both.

    • Ian @Barkham
      Posted August 18, 2020 at 6:29 am | Permalink

      2020 the lost generation, destroyed by those responsible for educating them. Better to give them all the top grade as no one is going to believe their CV’s

      • a-tracy
        Posted August 18, 2020 at 8:25 am | Permalink

        Exactly easily remembered too ‘2020 exam results fake’!

      • Know-Dice
        Posted August 18, 2020 at 11:48 am | Permalink


      • Everhopeful
        Posted August 18, 2020 at 12:09 pm | Permalink

        No glorious, sunny “Results Day”,
        No loving visitors with flowers for hastily-delivered babies,
        No summer weddings with huge group photos.
        No funerals.
        No grief, no joy, no memories, no photos, no rites of passage.
        No future!

        Who voted for this?

        • Lynn Atkinson
          Posted August 18, 2020 at 5:07 pm | Permalink

          Not even a present! Unprecedented! Unacceptable. I’m just carrying on as I normally would. No mask. I’m a bloody minded British Person who takes no orders – that’s why we are free, we have NEVER taken orders and especially from our inferiors!

          • Martin in Cardiff
            Posted August 20, 2020 at 6:46 am | Permalink

            Oh, you said that you were Irish.

          • Martin in Cardiff
            Posted August 20, 2020 at 6:48 am | Permalink

            Pretty useless military you’d expect then, wouldn’t you?

        • Ian @Barkham
          Posted August 18, 2020 at 6:41 pm | Permalink

          Who voted for Coronavirus?
          Who caused Corvid 19?
          Who knows how to cure it?
          Who wants to ensure others get Corvid 19?

    • Nigl
      Posted August 18, 2020 at 7:17 am | Permalink

      One thought. You talk about the internet as if it is turning on a tap. Have you considered what hardware people have, if like me it is a tablet it is wholly inappropriate to manage work solutions equally what broadband speeds do people have. Possibly even using mainly a smart phone.

      If your government had had even an ounce of foresight we would now have more fibre giving gigabit speeds where needed, large files, etc.

      Even if speeds were ok, separate isp line, reconfigured servers etc how many of these people who could work from home have a decent lap/desk top. Have you done that analysis, considered cost and time to roll out? Finally what about security? Allowing a virus in via a home system.

      Your implied criticism maybe correct but again you are trying to divert attention. In any event do you want to get people back to regenerate workplace areas or stay at home.

      Not for the first time, pointing both ways?

      • Lynn Atkinson
        Posted August 18, 2020 at 5:09 pm | Permalink

        Don’t worry, the back-door speed to China is just fine. Part of your processor is dedicated to that little aside.

    • Javelin
      Posted August 18, 2020 at 8:12 am | Permalink

      I would be interested to know if it was private or public schools which inflated the pupils grades. There is clearly something very fishy going on here.

    • Alan Jutson
      Posted August 18, 2020 at 8:34 am | Permalink


    • Richard1
      Posted August 18, 2020 at 8:44 am | Permalink

      It is an absurdity. Let’s face it also there are also lazy pupils and inadequate teachers. Many undeserving pupils will now supplant more deserving ones based on the whim of inadequate, incompetent or unprofessional teachers. While the pupils of the more rigorous and professional ones will be disadvantaged.

      Best even at this late stage would be to delay the start of the univeristy year until Jan, do A-levels properly in mid-Nov, and tell all schools to be back up and running on Sept 1. Any teacher who doesn’t show up without exceptionally good medical reason should be fired. Time to give the consumers (pupils and parents) priority.

      Forget GCSEs they are a waste of time anyway so let’s just abolish them.

    • Tabulazero
      Posted August 18, 2020 at 9:10 am | Permalink

      Given how important going to University is to your lifepath, erring on the side of generosity is not necessarily a bad idea.

      Some pupils that should not had gotten in will get in. Some will wake up and make up for their initial accademic shortfall. The rest will be weeded out and move to other qualification over time.

      Getting to univeristy is not the end. It is only the start.

      • Lynn Atkinson
        Posted August 18, 2020 at 5:12 pm | Permalink

        No degree would compensate for anybody who says ‘gotten’. I’m pretty sure the more degrees you have ‘Gotten’ the more likely you are to be unemployable.

        • Fred H
          Posted August 19, 2020 at 7:48 am | Permalink

          So, Lynn, its just a word people Like, or not.
          Looking forward, you know what I mean, its a massive issue – and it matters!

  10. Adam
    Posted August 18, 2020 at 5:48 am | Permalink

    Absence of public toilet access was probably a failure, risking shoppers avoiding returning. More importantly, defence of the realm repeatedly fails, with many people entering our land illegally. There are probably many in Govt responding well to new circumstances less noticed, but are heavily outweighed by those neglecting more substantive matters.

    • fedupsoutherner
      Posted August 18, 2020 at 2:08 pm | Permalink

      Adam If the government can find accommodation for all the illegal immigrants then why can’t they put our people first and find accommodation for the rough sleepers some of whom are veterans?

      • Sea Warrior
        Posted August 18, 2020 at 5:29 pm | Permalink

        We learned today that Kent County Council’s capacity to cope with the unaccompanied children flooding across the Channel has been exhausted. I would suggest that the council takes the excess to the Home Office’s HQ and leaves them at Reception. A better government would have been dropping them off at London embassies for several months by now.

      • Adam
        Posted August 20, 2020 at 5:24 am | Permalink

        fedupsoutherner: Rough sleepers who belong in the UK should receive food, clothing, shelter and facility enabling them to progress better toward security and comfort.

        Those who break and enter into our home country illegally should be confined to a separate place where validity can be assessed and provided for assistance where appropriate.

  11. Sea Warrior
    Posted August 18, 2020 at 6:00 am | Permalink

    ‘… but most of the things government needed to do could be carried out from home with suitable computer back up, and by a limited number of key workers continuing to go into offices and other government installations.’ I think government needs to be ultra-wary of the cyber-security implications of widespread home-working by civil servants. At a time when we need to double-down on keeping cyber-defences strong, we have let our guard down further. Civil servants need to get back to work, in their places of work – like I would have had to do had I still been sea warrioring.

    • Ian Wragg
      Posted August 18, 2020 at 6:11 am | Permalink

      True. Not a good idea to have civil sepents taking home holdalls full of driving licences and passports.

    • Ian @Barkham
      Posted August 18, 2020 at 6:30 am | Permalink

      Civil servants, as a rule are very secure and without proper responsibility, so why should they care.

    • Alan Jutson
      Posted August 18, 2020 at 8:32 am | Permalink

      Sea Warrior

      Agree absolutely with the possible cyber security risk when people are working from home, particularly Banks and the like.

    • ukretired123
      Posted August 18, 2020 at 9:33 am | Permalink

      Excellent sharp point ref Cyber security esp where the Public Sector are very naive outside of GCHQ and the Security forces and agencies.
      The weakest link can be their homes and themselves as shortcuts will be taken and be exploited. A nightmare to control. I agree that the emphasis should be working back to the office as that is what they are paid for come rain or shine – not snowflakes.

      • Sea Warrior
        Posted August 18, 2020 at 5:25 pm | Permalink

        I can still remember attending regular COMSEC briefings and being wowed by what the bad uns could do to the unwary!

    • Sharon Jagger
      Posted August 18, 2020 at 4:26 pm | Permalink

      I would have thought Civil Servants working on passports, blue badges and drivers licenses would have been next after key workers. And with empty offices, these workers should easily have been able to go into the office and social distance.

      Surprised they didn’t continue working throughout.

  12. agricola
    Posted August 18, 2020 at 6:11 am | Permalink

    I can only comment on local aspects of the NHS. In my area the GP service allows you through the front door, takes your temperature and allows you to converse with a health worker through a roll down garage type security door. You cannot sign on to the service, necessary if you are not permanently resident so that you can continue to receive medication. Unlike Spain where prescriptions last a year and in any case can be bought freely over the farmacia counter with obvious exceptions like opiates and anti biotics. Presumably in an emergency in the UK you go to A&E, so what are GP surgeries doing, it is far from clear in my area. The local hospital is working normally with obvious precautions for routine scheduled checkups, as far as my experience goes. Who is responsjble for all these changes is not clear. They seem bizaare when the population has returned to beauty treatments, the dentist, restaurants and the pub.

    I also notice that apart from the idiot fringe insisting on their raves, many of the general public are running scared in supermarkets, being excessive in their separation behaviour.

    It is going to require more drastic reaction to catch up on many aspects of NHS work than using private hospitals. In many cases the same surgeons work in both. In some operative areas the backlog was extensive before Covid 19, so what it is like now is anyones guess. Delayed consultations are not the answer because the condition deteriorates, moving patients greater distances could be.

    We can all write articles asking questions and for opinions, what we really require are factual appraisals of the actual situation and if necessary radical solutions with act now orders. The civil service is there to provide them and has been paid throughout the pandemic, so why are we still asking.

  13. matthu
    Posted August 18, 2020 at 6:14 am | Permalink

    I phoned 111 on Saturday evening at about 8:00 pm (from Wokingham) and was told that a doctor would phone me back within half an hour – or else I should assume that an ambulance was already on its way and would arrive within 2 hours. When an ambulance did not arrive even within 3 hours, I called 999 and eventually a team of paramedics (from Slough) arrived at 5:00 am, fully 9 hours after my initial call. So our ambulance service appears to be thoroughly overworked – or understaffed.

    Once they had arrived, the paramedics were excellent and arranged for an on-call doctor to see me within a couple of hours, which he did. He was from Oxford.

    I was later referred to Royal Berkshire Hospital for a CT scan, attended early the morning (without an appointment) and by 08:15 am the scan had been completed. The radiologist informed me that the scan would be back with my GP no later than 1:00 pm the same day and I later discovered that it had in fact arrived even earlier, by 9:30 am. That was all pretty impressive!

    But when I phoned my GP reception later that afternoon, I was informed that the scan had not yet arrived. I phoned again at 4:00 pm and was told to phone back the next day. The next day I phoned at 2:00 pm and was told the scan had not yet arrived, although they would check “the other system”. But no luck.

    That was when I took it upon myself to phone the hospital, who confirmed that the scan had been delivered in the form of a download link, but that only registered GPs would have been authorized to access the result. So a bit of confusion here might have delayed the result being delivered to the GP by 36 hours.

    I was able to pass this information on to the the GP practice. A GP phoned me back later the same day and told me she was making an urgent referral to a specialist and that I should expect to hear (by post) within 7-10 days and it has now been 6 days since speaking to my GP.

    So it seems that parts of the NHS are working very well, although there are still a few bottlenecks and other parts are still working Monday to Friday and relying on our postal services.

    • Lynn Atkinson
      Posted August 18, 2020 at 5:15 pm | Permalink

      That is an outrageous tale. So pleased you survived it!

    • Mark B
      Posted August 18, 2020 at 7:03 pm | Permalink

      Sorry to hear your plight matthu, hope things turn out alright.

      It does seem that it is the admin that sometimes lets things down. A word with your GP may be in order as I doubt you are the only one.

    • Fred H
      Posted August 18, 2020 at 7:04 pm | Permalink

      The Sunday Times reported on ‘Urgent Cancer Referrals’ made by GPs in May to July.
      From a worryingly large number submitted – 250,000 remained unseen at publishing.

      Some statisticians calculated that the lost opportunity to diagnose and perform early treatment would result in a serious drop in survival rates over the next 5 years.
      In summary, the NHS failure to cope in this just one area is costing years of peoples’ lives.

  14. jerry
    Posted August 18, 2020 at 6:16 am | Permalink

    So govt oversight has caused problems within the following Agencies or govt Departments since last July at least;

    PHE (and now its successor, before the paint has dried on the new sign)
    HMRC (over payments of some SEISS grants)
    Transport (the TOCs are in limbo)
    BEIS (energy policy)
    Home Office (boarder security)

    Yet the the response from the PM appears to be, ‘Crisis? What crisis?’…

    So Boris, step up man, for pithy sake, if Ministers can not do the right thing by their own swords then take a lesson from history – 13 July 1962 – or step aside yourself!

    • Edward2
      Posted August 18, 2020 at 3:07 pm | Permalink

      Do you not think that who ever is in charge of the public bodies you list might also be held responsible for their lacklustre performance?

      • jerry
        Posted August 19, 2020 at 6:43 am | Permalink

        @Edward2; That is exactly what I am suggesting!

        The clue is surely in the term “public bodies” (rather than a Plc for example), yes there are managers who are responsible for the day-to-day management but govt departments over-see the govt Agencies, but it is cabinet/Downing Street who sets policies that both Agency & govt. Dept have to work to – many, if not most, of the failings are that of policy, or inaction by the Minister in charge of oversight who has not acted on lacklustre performance, and when they do act they all to often jump from one frying pan to another, forgetting the fire below, as seem to be the case at the DHSC.

        The buck will thus always stop at govt, Ministers and ultimately the PM – as I’m sure you and others on the right would be constantly pointing out had Mr Corbyn been elected in either 2017 or 2019, as indeed happened with Blair/Brown post the 2007 banking crash, what was that phrase trotted out (despite the failings being within the Plc Banks), oh yes, talking of govt imposed regulation, “They should have fixed the roof whilst the sun shone”…

        • Edward2
          Posted August 19, 2020 at 8:31 pm | Permalink

          I just thought that maybe a little of the media glare might shine on the CEOs of these quangos and public bodies when they fail.
          They are given a remit.
          They are given huge sums of money.

          But you think everything that isn’t right should be blamed on Boris.

          You are entitled to your opinion.
          Which I don’t agree with.

          • jerry
            Posted August 20, 2020 at 9:02 am | Permalink

            @Edward2; “They are given a remit.”

            As the old computer programming adage goes;

            Nonsense-in = Nonsense-out!

            The point you keep missing, the remit is the problem. But for you it’s never the fault of those who set up the quangos, or those who set/modify those remits.

            “But you think everything that isn’t right should be blamed on Boris.”

            Well as the CEO of the country, so to speak, yes he is ultimately to blame – if he carries on never fixing any problems. Just as the Chairman (and board) would ultimately becomes the fall-guy at a Plc.should the company keep failing.

            On the other hand all you seem to ever want to do is rearrange deckchairs, sack the janitor for not keeping the prom-deck tidy, whilst telling the passengers everything is fine – when they can clearly see everything is not fine, the ship is listing heavily to one side! The fact that the Capitan or one of his chief officers has just rammed an iceberg appears of little importance to you.

          • Edward2
            Posted August 20, 2020 at 7:17 pm | Permalink

            Well that has really changed my mind.
            At last I have realised you are right.
            Thanks Jerry.

          • hefner
            Posted August 23, 2020 at 2:48 pm | Permalink


  15. Sakara Gold
    Posted August 18, 2020 at 6:23 am | Permalink

    I am still waiting for my new tax code, which should have been issued in April.

    Having part-exchanged my old car for a nearly new one early last week – taking advantage of one of the motor trade’s end-of-lockdown offers – I received a vehicle tax refund cheque (relating to the part-ex) from DVLC yesterday.

  16. Andy
    Posted August 18, 2020 at 6:27 am | Permalink

    Ministers ‘rely on the goodwill of public servants.’

    Ironic. As this group of ministers and their backers have, at every opportunity, repeatedly demonstrated their contempt for the public servants they now want to show ‘goodwill’.

    The Tory Brexit government starts with the belief that all public servants and the entire public sector is bad – and that the people who work in it are wasteful parasites.

    I start with the belief that most teachers and nurses and doctors and firefighters and police officers and soldiers and prison officers and judges and council workers and diplomats are good. Systems can always be improved but they are far easier to improve by working with the public sector rather than abusing it.

    • Edward2
      Posted August 18, 2020 at 3:09 pm | Permalink

      What examples of abuse and contempt at every opportunity by the recently elected government towards all public sector employees are you referring to?

    • NickC
      Posted August 18, 2020 at 4:57 pm | Permalink

      Andy, Sadly you are mistaken – most Tory politicians are as daft as you are about the wonderfulness of the state to make the best of all possible worlds.

    • acorn
      Posted August 18, 2020 at 5:04 pm | Permalink

      Andy, the Civil Service is like an Elephant, it never forgets those that have abused it, particularly HMRC.

      You may have heard of the “Peter Principle” it defines people who rise up the management of an organisation to their point of incompetence. Very apt for the current Downing Street cabinet.

      There is also the “Cat Concept”. That is where you give your ar**hole of a minister 90% of the information he/she requires and you let the media destroy him/her with the vital 10% you didn’t tell him/her. 😉 Naturally the UK Civil Service would never do such a thing; would they?

      • acorn
        Posted August 18, 2020 at 5:13 pm | Permalink

        Sorry it is Catt Concept.

      • Edward2
        Posted August 18, 2020 at 9:02 pm | Permalink

        The Ppeter principle also applies to all organisations.
        Like ministries and quangos.
        They are seem clever enough to push the blame for any failure up to Number 10.
        And the media are very happy to focus their headlines onto them.

  17. Andy
    Posted August 18, 2020 at 6:41 am | Permalink

    If you believe the Brexiteer government, the Department of Health is incompetent. So is the Department of Education. And the DfT. And the Home Office. And anyone who negotiated with the EU (except David Frost),

    A more credible explanation is that the Tory Brexiteers in government are incompetent.

    Government is hard. Who knew that people who have spent their entire careers telling you government was easy would literally form the worst government ever?

    On the plus side we all get to laugh.

    • NickC
      Posted August 18, 2020 at 4:54 pm | Permalink

      Andy, Never mind, your much vaunted extra “55,000 pen pushers” are bound to put things right if your theory of more government = better government is correct. Won’t they?

    • Fred H
      Posted August 18, 2020 at 7:06 pm | Permalink

      you have a curious sense of humour. More often seen in certain institutions.

  18. Javelin
    Posted August 18, 2020 at 6:43 am | Permalink

    Banks have managed to function remotely. Why not passports or driving licences.

    If the Government is looking to save money then going through the motions of verbal and written warnings followed by sacking needs to become common place. Perhaps a department for sacking incompetent staff needs to be set up.

    • Mark B
      Posted August 19, 2020 at 5:11 am | Permalink

      Competition. Competition. Competition.

      Let them compete against the Private Sector. Let us, as consumers, make the comparisons and the choices and method old market forces do the rest.


  19. Alan Jutson
    Posted August 18, 2020 at 6:44 am | Permalink

    Huge delays in Granting Probate, and this was before Covid, goodness knows what it is like now.

    I waited many months when acting as Executor to my Aunts estate, after submitting all of the forms to both Probate office and HMRC as is needed, it was a very simple estate, way, way below the inheritance tax threshold level, and did not involve a property, one question however required me to clarify a situation with the help desk at the Probate office, just to be on the safe side.

    After a number of months HMRC replied saying the answer I gave (as advised by the help line) was not clear, after further discussion I was informed by HMRC that the Probate help line staff are not fully qualified to answer some questions !!!!!

    Thus further months of waiting.

    Before Covid it was 4 -5 months, and after being granted Probate, HMRC still has 28 days to challenge the original grant decision, so add another month to that!!!!

    Whilst no property was involved in this case, there is a time limited period you are given to sell property, otherwise all sorts of extra costs are involved, Council tax being one.
    Delays in Probate can seriously affect that time scale, cause complete and utter frustration, and cause extra expenditure, all at a time of huge disruption and grief.

  20. formula57
    Posted August 18, 2020 at 6:47 am | Permalink

    My examples are few, not having engaged much, but commendably: –

    1. Refuse and recycling collections by the Local Authority have continued uninterrupted throughout.

    2. A new Attendance Allowance application to the DWP I assisted a relative prepare was processed much faster than the indicated timetable.

  21. John E
    Posted August 18, 2020 at 6:50 am | Permalink

    The shutdown in health care is particularly disgraceful. It seems the NHS will do anything short of actually seeing and treating a patient.
    A family member is in agony with a serious back injury and cannot get an MRI scan done, even with private insurance cover in London. The NHS A&E was completely useless.
    The private insurer referred us to a centre in Harley Street for a scan yesterday and we saw a consultant, but then their scanning facilities were not running. The consultant referred us to a different imaging centre that it turns out is also not working so we are still trying to find an appointment at a working MRI scanner in London.

  22. Ian @Barkham
    Posted August 18, 2020 at 6:51 am | Permalink

    Sir John
    Failure of Public Health England to buy PPE? Are you sure, the Health Authorities for the most part are stand alone and run their own procurement departments at great expense.

    As someone commented here in these pages back when it all kicked off, they had a warehouse full of 3M PPE and hadn’t seen one order for supplies from the health authorities.

    Public Health England discredited it self in the flakey science from the get go and poor if not shaky advice they gave to Government. Even factoring in it is a new virus and no one can truly know what would be the right direction to take. PHE appears to be a Quango that is so full of its self that it hinders what is right for the Country.

    Just as the concept of the NHS as a monolithic single thought fits all is wrong. Anything dominant becomes flawed as its sole purpose then becomes about saving face, staying in charge and not accepting criticism. The happy clapper brigade forgot that while some in the NHS put them-selves in harms way and went above and beyond what most of us would have expected – more than 80% got a holiday, were able to relax.

    What is needed in Marxist Metro-Land, is needed at the same time in the rest of the Country. Government has been come insular, it is being run by an invented narrative created by a bored MsM.

    Government should trust the people more, they always do a better job. Government should commit to the freedoms they always promise in a run up to an election.

  23. Jim
    Posted August 18, 2020 at 6:54 am | Permalink

    Cecil Northcote Parkinson would be appalled or amused at your asking us the public for examples of your failures. Let me remind you Sir John, YOU and your colleagues are the management, the failure is YOURS. Walk the shop floor.

    Therein lies the rub, Parkinson’s Law applies to Parliament just as it applies everywhere else. From where I sit the public sector is not the main problem. Parliament sets the budgets and the (inconsistent) rules and failure inevitably follows from poor quality top management – from you and your colleagues.

    For many many years the quality of legislation produced by Parliament has been far too low, far too slow and riddled with errors and get-outs. Every time we have an appeal on matters of law, that is another failure of Parliament to write clear unambiguous legislation. Every time we have another leasehold scandal, that too is a failure of Parliament to deliver fair and clear legislation. Grenfell is at its root a failure by Parliament to do its job. The list goes on and on and on.

    Here we sit in the summer recess having achieved nothing in the first half with every prospect of your achieving nothing in what remains of the year. Poor old England (and Wales and Scotland and Northern Ireland).

    • Lynn Atkinson
      Posted August 18, 2020 at 5:20 pm | Permalink

      The other and more recent Cecil Parkinson, a man who gave his undivided attention when discussing anything, would have applauded an MP consulting the electorate for problems he may not know about. That is the job of an MP.

  24. Richard1
    Posted August 18, 2020 at 6:54 am | Permalink

    A lot of the inadequacies seem to come from the general lamentable trend of recent years of policy being determined by these quasi-independent bodies of supposed experts, which are created by ministers and appointed to by ministers but have semi-automonous status.

    We elect the govt and it needs to govern. That means the ministers should take advice from whomever they like, determine policy and issue instructions and then be accountable for the results. In the case of the exams fiasco it may be that ofqual is useless. In which case let’s close it and save a few hundred bureaucratic salaries. But it should be Mr Williamson and perhaps other ministers who carry the can. At least that will encourage his successors to insist on direct control of decisions.

    • Nigl
      Posted August 18, 2020 at 7:47 am | Permalink

      Robert Jenrick is in his 30s. (Former ed) Corporate lawyer, Director of Christies. No doubt he has some talent but what experience has he had if managing anything let alone a billion pound set up with tens of thousands of employees. Zero?

      Equally many others? Questioning/challenging skills, project management, people management? No wonder the government is in total hock to the Sir Humphries and so called experts.

      From the recruitment of candidates to election to appointment of ministers the system is designed to recruit people with the only skill being ‘politics’ and be lobby fodder. A very prominent and talented MEP applied to be the candidate in my constituency and was the local parties choice. They were overruled by Central Office for an ineffective ‘patsy’ whose contribution as far as I can see, is ‘saluting’ when told to.

      You’ve been in it Sir JR for umpteen years so you know the score. The glare of the internet has highlighted the inadequacies and the current situation amplified them.

      When it is said Whitehall is not fit for purpose, include many of the elected representatives.

      • Lynn Atkinson
        Posted August 18, 2020 at 5:23 pm | Permalink

        The Constituency Parties MUST recover the power to freely appoint their shortlist of candidates. Central Office is damned by the quality of ‘The cattle on the premises’ from which we have to choose a cabinet and PM.

        • Martin in Cardiff
          Posted August 19, 2020 at 7:57 pm | Permalink

          Well, General Elections really would be an even more interesting freak show, if ever you get your way, Lynn.

          • Edward2
            Posted August 20, 2020 at 6:39 am | Permalink

            One minute you want more local democracy now you prefer centralised decision making.

          • hefner
            Posted August 23, 2020 at 2:44 pm | Permalink

            MiC, I don’t agree with you, at least we would have MPs (more) sensitive to local problems. And I am really not convinced that local candidates would be so much worse than those pushed forward by the central offices of the different parties.

            Well I have to put a ‘flat on my staff’, the above comment does not apply to UKIP/TBP.

    • Richard1
      Posted August 18, 2020 at 8:57 am | Permalink


    • Sea Warrior
      Posted August 18, 2020 at 12:15 pm | Permalink

      I agree with much of your post but don’t favour governments trying to reorganise themselves out of crises that can be blamed on either poor process or poor people. (So, I’m a little suspicious of the timing and sense in Hancock’s announcement today.) But I’m particularly struck by your final sentence. Ministers should now take a good hard look at the web of disparate organisations that now hold their – the ministers’ – fortunes in their hands. They might profit from having a good ‘RACI analysis’ conducted by external consultants. And profit too from shaping their battlespace, by changing law and trimming-back on our adoption of international agreements, rather than just wringing their hands and saying nothing can be done.

      • Richard1
        Posted August 18, 2020 at 9:02 pm | Permalink

        Indeed. Would a captain RN who ran his ship aground have been able to blame a subordinate or any advisory person aboard?

  25. dixie
    Posted August 18, 2020 at 6:54 am | Permalink

    The post has been delivered, and bins have been collected, full marks those frontline workers – but these aren’t public sector, they are private operators fulfilling public contracts.

    Medics have been active but our GP and Dental services (other than prescriptions) have been closed. Teachers we know in both private and public schooling have been active, but in the main many public sector employees seem to have taken a fully paid, extended holiday.

    The local council has certainly been prompt with extracting council tax, but council services and facilities I access have been absent – recycling centre, sports centres, libraries and the like. I accept that social distancing has prevented this access, but I have still been charged for all of this. I have received nothing from Wokingham council to justify or explain this act, no indication of employees being put on furlough, nothing.

    On a positive note Reading buses have been operating and we both had to renew our driving licences in May, at the height of the lockdown, when DVLA provided replacements promptly within their stated 2 week period.

    • Mark B
      Posted August 18, 2020 at 7:11 pm | Permalink

      Your first paragraph says it all.

    • Fred H
      Posted August 18, 2020 at 7:11 pm | Permalink

      I got another reply to my second query as to why libraries bar the largest 2 in Wokingham district have still not reopened, nor indicated when they might.
      Nicely written – its all H& S you see – but might as well close them, and reduce the Coucil Tax for the following years.

    • anon
      Posted August 18, 2020 at 10:40 pm | Permalink

      Getting registered by an NHS Dentist & treated seems to be a big problem, denied of course.
      NHS 111(not our problem guv we are just advertisers) seems happy to advertise numbers of dentists who when you call are not “NHS” interested.

      Getting a private dentist does not appear to be a problem!

  26. George Brooks.
    Posted August 18, 2020 at 7:26 am | Permalink

    Often academically very very bright people are impractical when it comes to implementation and our Public Sector has more than its fair share of these people. This year we have had three shining examples and what is worse is that they will not entertain any outside advice or assistance.

    PHE with the acquisition and distribution of PPE. This was followed by the complete waste of time and money over the development of the Test & Trace app being done ‘in-house’ and now we have Ofqual and the algorithm. The Statistical Society offered to check and assist with this but were told they had to sign a non-disclosure agreement which they quite rightly refused to do.

    PPE was sorted by a leader from industry and the army, the development of the app was handed to Google and Apple where it should have been in the first place and why the best people to test and check the algorithm were refused access begs the question that Ofqual suspected it was flawed.

    Until the implementation side of the Public Sector becomes competitive it will always attract lazy second rate operatives and these clag-ups will continue.

  27. Lifelogic
    Posted August 18, 2020 at 7:29 am | Permalink

    Memo to all governemnt ministers:- The best way to avoid U-turns is to set off (and keep to) a sensible direction. The best way to avoid late U-turn is to take them early.

    Many more are needed from this Boris government cancel HS2, scrap the green crap energy policy and go for cheap reliable energy, get real competition into health care and education, cut and simplify taxes, cut the state sector and have huge bonfire of red tape.

    Oh and the last thing the country needs is many thousands more young people brandishing worthless degrees in largely worthless subjects with £50K of soft debt – going up at £3,000 PA in interest.

    • Sea Warrior
      Posted August 18, 2020 at 7:49 pm | Permalink

      The UK armed forces’ first ‘Principle of War’? Selection and maintenance of the aim.

      • miami.mode
        Posted August 18, 2020 at 11:07 pm | Permalink

        Currently reading about the Hurtgen Forest in WW2 and maintenance of the (arguably futile) aim resulted in horrendous casualties for American soldiers. On the same basis and contrary to what LL has written HS2 should be seen through to the bitter end.

        Prudent consideration of a situation is always wise.

  28. Oldwulf
    Posted August 18, 2020 at 7:37 am | Permalink

    Maybe there should be a change in the public sector leadership each time there is a change in the ruling party.

    • Lynn Atkinson
      Posted August 18, 2020 at 5:25 pm | Permalink


  29. Colin
    Posted August 18, 2020 at 7:37 am | Permalink

    It’s not rocket science. It starts at the top. Vision, determination and attitude. Closely monitoring performance and taking action to combat underperformance of individual staff and whole departments. Sticking closely to objectives and targets and implementing corrective action where necessary.
    So Minister, mandarin, chief of staff, other managers please start doing your jobs.

    Only 20% of Civil Servants back at work and in some cases only 3-6% of staff. Its derisory compared to nurses, supermarket staff and private businesses. By all means introduce precautions for vulnerable and older staff but remote working is likely to be possible in many areas – universities and some schools appear to have done so in order to provide much needed continuity.

    Thankfully I now have limited need to contact HMRC but I would like to nominate them for the “most useless and greatest time wasters ” award. An outright winner for sure. Staff ( not trained ) not able to answer basic questions or able to pass you onto the person who can. Long waits on the telephone only to be cut off eventually. Flexible working hours. No wonder tax paying customers cannot speak with the relevant specialist after 4pm. Flexible for who’s benefit. Not mine.

    My comments do not apply to the very many who do genuinely try to make a difference. It all starts at the top.

  30. Bryan Harris
    Posted August 18, 2020 at 7:58 am | Permalink

    The good news keeps coming in for those intent on following an authoritarian line over CV-19

    India – Health passport: As reported by Great Game India, the Indian government is set to implement a mandatory health card program that literally has the power to control messaging, access to information, and other necessities a free people require in order to remain free.

    New Zealand – Quarantine Camps: New Zealand’s government is now exploiting its power monopoly to roll out mandatory quarantine camps for people who might be infected with COVID-19. And some people will never be allowed to leave those camps, the NZ Prime Minister insists.

    We need a categorical statement from Boris that we are not going down the same paths.

    • The Prangwizard
      Posted August 18, 2020 at 4:57 pm | Permalink

      Whatever Boris may say could be overturned by him the following dsy. There is point in having faith in any aspect of government. Boris in particular cannot be relied upon.

      • Bryan Harris
        Posted August 19, 2020 at 6:51 am | Permalink

        Agreed, but this was to highlight the fact that we do not want any lemmings in our government and that we are well aware that these things are being pushed world wide as solutions, when in fact they are the ultimate control weapons.

    • Lynn Atkinson
      Posted August 18, 2020 at 5:32 pm | Permalink

      They did not do the same thing for AIDS did they? Far more dangerous.

      • Bryan Harris
        Posted August 19, 2020 at 6:52 am | Permalink


    • Martin in Cardiff
      Posted August 20, 2020 at 6:54 am | Permalink

      The UK already has the power to detain people indefinitely under Notifiable Diseases legislation.

      • Bryan Harris
        Posted August 20, 2020 at 10:56 am | Permalink

        Indeed – but one hopes they don’t go down the extremist routes of New Zealand and India

  31. Iain Moore
    Posted August 18, 2020 at 8:03 am | Permalink

    A small annoyance, something I have mentioned before, our council recycling center has made it more difficult to go there than go to the opera. Its outside, no one goes there to hang around, but the jobsworths and health safety have run riot . Covid has given the public sector jobsworths the opportunity to make our lives miserable, a case of can’t rather than can do.

    Overall we have a problem with a hyperbolic media , nothing is nuanced, everything is end of the word tragedy stuff, and they will happily mislead the public to get their crisis. A bloated public sector where empire building is more important than supplying services, and a political class which is devoid of rigour , which all adds up to a poorly run country.

    What I find most surprising is that when Ministers necks are on the block, when you might think it would concentrate their minds, it doesn’t. They can’t even marshall up the arguments to protect their careers. Look at the A level farce , at no point did Gavin Williamson challenge the hyperbolic media narrative that teachers know their students best , for him to point out that we are facing massive grade inflation and there won’t be enough university places to accept all these grade A students. You would think he would be mentioning that last year there were 25% A A* students, this year 37% but no, nothing, and in Ministers failure to fight their corner, it lets obstructionist bodies, like the teachers unions, off the hook.

    • a-tracy
      Posted August 22, 2020 at 4:09 pm | Permalink

      I w0nder if Council run recycling centres were sold off to private companies if they would be better and would actually recycle more and importantly have been kept open, after all they are socially distant from other people, they’re outside, people go in cars and they dont offer to help anyway.

      All garden waste collections were stopped for five months, whilst people were gardening, massive problems, local tip closed, left stinking the place out, birds and other pests everywhere.

      Could compost materials be sold off to composters.
      Old furniture sold to up-cycling companies, or for parts glass and wood.

  32. BJC
    Posted August 18, 2020 at 8:05 am | Permalink

    I’ve said it before and will keep repeating it, every success or failure is due to the effectiveness of the managers at every level. Get rid of the dross and bring in some high-flying private sector managers with broad experience……available very shortly. They’ll have the skills, confidence and energy to streamline the processes, implement measures to ensure non-performers up their game, or collate the evidence to remove them so good performers don’t have to carry them. It must start from the very top and the CS penchant for internal promotions or the appointment of anyone’s chums should be avoided. In tandem, clip the wings of the unions. Most of what they’ve ever demanded is enshrined in law, anyway, and they now concentrate their energies on working tactically to hold the entire country to ransom. The managers of UK plc (government) must respond to unblock this deliberate and damaging roadblock, or they’ll never achieve their desired outcomes.

  33. Stred
    Posted August 18, 2020 at 8:10 am | Permalink

    Boris has chosen Dido Harding, who left Talk Talk to head our world beating track and trace monolith, with thousands of tracers twiddling their fingers, to take charge of the replacement for Public Health England, following its success in putting the UK at the top of the deaths league. This says it all.

    • Sharon Jagger
      Posted August 18, 2020 at 4:41 pm | Permalink


      Agreed..,, And I thought Chris Whitty was a big part of the problem- so why is he heading up the new PHE dept?

      All sounds great till you hear who’s heading up the new depts.

      • rose
        Posted August 18, 2020 at 8:11 pm | Permalink

        Peter Lilley thinks very highly of Chris Whitty. He is nobody’s fool – nor is Chris Whitty.

    • Sea Warrior
      Posted August 18, 2020 at 7:46 pm | Permalink

      It could be worse: the head could be a Revolutionary Communist!

  34. Nigl
    Posted August 18, 2020 at 8:12 am | Permalink

    The head of the exam regulator, incidentally on 200k a year had no experience of education when appointed by Nicky Morgan. She has not given an interview for months.

  35. Bryan Harris
    Posted August 18, 2020 at 8:12 am | Permalink

    It appears the public sector is not motivated enough …

    Still waiting for an appointment letter for a hospital, where my previous appointment was cancelled days before due….and yes I have reminded them
    Why aren’t hospitals running at a fast pace to catch up with the problems not even looked at while CV was so popular?

    GP’s seem to find any excuse to avoid giving appointments — Seems they don’t want to touch patients.

    • Lester the Cynic
      Posted August 18, 2020 at 3:12 pm | Permalink

      Agreed, they don’t want nasty, ill people cluttering up their surgeries, perish the thought!

      • Bryan Harris
        Posted August 19, 2020 at 1:37 pm | Permalink


  36. Iain Gill
    Posted August 18, 2020 at 8:19 am | Permalink

    Re “not had reports of failures to issue cash payments to furlough employers” only because the Chancellor decided to implement that help which was easy to implement, leaving significant gaps in provision. And btw many of the payments have been coming through weeks late, individuals normally not noticing because their employers often pays them prior to getting the money from HMRC. I dont think leaving such massive gaps in provision is a sign of success, its a sign of politicians and civil servants getting away with sub par performance, thats easiest for them but not at all what the public want.

    There are many general problems with the public sector. The complaints process in all of these organisations are not genuinely independent, this should be changed and complaints handled centrally by some decent people, maybe retired cops or similar, across the entire public sector. There is too much public school and Oxbridge bias, with friends hiring friends on the grapevine regardless of whether they are a good fit for the role or not, and poor performance being tolerated if you have the right accent. Far too little learning from the best of the private sector.

    And yes poor political masters, from a political class of dire quality, the selection process for candidates in all the main political parties really needs to improve a lot.

  37. a-tracy
    Posted August 18, 2020 at 8:32 am | Permalink

    Public Sector responded well:
    Some policing (not all), community support officers that remained operational
    Ambulance and paramedic service
    Front line A&E workers all grades and job types
    Covid treatment ward workers all grades and job types
    Furlough system workers
    Operational teachers and teachers assistants who worked providing care for key workers

    I can’t think of anything else public sector that stayed open

  38. agricola
    Posted August 18, 2020 at 8:40 am | Permalink

    Ref Normal Functioning of NHS.
    The minister should be aware of two factors for every speciality covered by every hospital trust in the country.
    1. Waiting time to get an appointment with a consultant from first application by the patients GP.

    2.Waiting time from first consultant appointment to necessary investigations, MRI Scan for instance, and then ongoing treatment or resolving operaton, hip replacement for instance.

    With such informstion for each speciality the problem areas are instantly visible and rectifying action can be taken. Be that in the Trust in question or by moving the patient to a Trust under less pressure.

    My concern is that the myriad levels of administration within the NHS nor the minister responsible have any idea of the extent of the problem either before or after Covid19. They are therefore ill prepared to direct a resolution of delay problems.

  39. a-tracy
    Posted August 18, 2020 at 8:42 am | Permalink

    Public Sector failed in my opinion:

    To test the GCSE and A level students – why? They had received all the direct teacher training and always finish for exam revision in March anyway and this could have been done.

    To do emergency dental work causing people a lot of pain and this will eventually lead to lost teeth.

    To keep testing cancer patients.

    Libraries – we really need to question if we need so many of them now, especially those with low local use, children are being given free laptops and online reading has taken over, they weren’t open at our key time of need for our children and elderly isolated, people can pick up books virtually free at charity shops, supermarkets and local shopping centres and charity shops could provide this lend and return for retired people for a small donation and schools could do it for children – even though they failed to also keep this basic learning material going. I was always a big supporter of libraries and argued they should be resourced and kept open but I feel they really dropped the ball and let people down.

    After the initial month, just why couldn’t roads be resurfaced and motorways finished off?

    Anyone would think no-one worked at all. People did, they constantly were told they were putting themselves at risk but they did this for just 20% more money than everyone paid to stay at home or on full pay if in the public sector!

  40. Roy Grainger
    Posted August 18, 2020 at 8:43 am | Permalink

    I recently returned to UK from Europe. Now ALL UK arrivals have to fill in, in advance, a lengthy on-line form to be used by the Test and Trace service. Fair enough. I filled this in via the government website with no problem. It then said it had emailed me an attachment with a bar code which would have to be shown at immigration on arrival in UK. However, the email they sent had no visible attachment. Other people I’ve spoken to also found this. After some trouble accessing it via other means (computer rather than phone) I got it. I needn’t have bothered, no-one at Heathrow asked to see it or scan it, I just walked through via the automatic passport gates. Again, that is not just my experience.

    Conclusion: (1) The civil service are useless at IT projects. (2) The Government are good at developing Covid rules and bad at enforcing them.

    • Lynn Atkinson
      Posted August 18, 2020 at 5:31 pm | Permalink

      The Govt are obsessed with making ‘rules’ and passing ‘laws’ (many of which already exist) and nothing is enforced. The entire Law enforcement depends on British people doing the right thing when the law is pointed out to them.

    • Sea Warrior
      Posted August 18, 2020 at 7:44 pm | Permalink

      And I’ll guess that you weren’t subject to an IR temperature check either.

    • anon
      Posted August 18, 2020 at 11:02 pm | Permalink

      Just borrow a dinghy and paddle past the gate.

  41. Tony Gee
    Posted August 18, 2020 at 8:44 am | Permalink

    The public sector is struggling because the Conservative governments that have been in power for 10 years have cut budgets. You think we have forgotten about austerity? Stop tryin to blame decent public sector wrokers, for once take responsibility for the appallingly poor Tory governments led by Cameron, May and (worst of all) Cummings

    • steve
      Posted August 18, 2020 at 4:21 pm | Permalink

      Tony Gee

      “The public sector is struggling because the Conservative governments that have been in power for 10 years have cut budgets.”

      No, it’s because they’re lazy left wingers on a cushy number who always create when there is a conservative government that requires value for money on tax payer’s behalf.

    • Mark B
      Posted August 18, 2020 at 7:31 pm | Permalink

      And why were budgets cut ?

      When in the Private Sector, when work falls off, people are laid off. Like the 500 our 1,500 people I know of. Come this depression I doubt many as a percentage of Public Sector workers will be looking for a new job.

  42. Caterpillar
    Posted August 18, 2020 at 8:47 am | Permalink

    Successful implementation of Mr Sunak’s unethical policies is no reason to celebrate.

    In terms of trashing Ofqual, I think the jury is still out and hopefully gets to report. It is trivially easy to state that absolute ranking in large schools and FE colleges (the latter in particular who have fewer years to know the students), but this does not fundamentally call the algorithm into question. It can still be robust, apart from a small number at margins where it can be argued to be soft this year. Given the inappropriate data release that must have occurred to show.some schools’ results being downgraded more than others (as.wpild be expected), it is time now for an urgent appropriate data release for transparency.

    I would suggest immediate release of a league table showing the size of schools’ improvements in each subject compared with last year. Those students in schools that are not at the top of the table list must have their marks increased to match. It is.!ich more unfair to condemn students for innocently being in honest school with good systems, than a few possible errors at margins in the original algorithm. (Educationally it is students at margins that usually benefit from resitting, this need created opportunity has been thrown away). Any schools at the top of this table will need to be investigated for honesty and robust systems.

    In general there do seem to be public sector issues, but I have no confidence that this should be dealt with under the current PM. He has kept Mr Hancock and Mr Sunak in place, together they have wrecked the country through knee jerk and unethical (+ineffective) policies.If the PM cannot sort his own Cabinet out, then large structural stranges, however needed, should not occur underneath him.

    • Caterpillar
      Posted August 18, 2020 at 9:12 am | Permalink

      “It is trivially easy to state that absolute ranking in large schools and FE colleges (the latter in particular who have fewer years to know the students)” IS DIFFICULT

  43. bigneil(newercomp)
    Posted August 18, 2020 at 8:52 am | Permalink

    M&S to lose 7000 jobs. Will the affected people be put in hotels? Unlikely.
    In Derby it appears the Asylum seekers aren’t happy with a free roof over their heads, free beds, water, electric, food, NHS and Dental care etc Now they want more cash and some entertainment !!!! Is it any wonder they are known as gimme grants? Haven’t any of them been told WE are paying for them to be here doing nothing ??? Over a hundred arrived over the weekend – that’s another hotel nearly filled. And £000s more of our taxes gone. Next week we still have these ungrateful lot to pay for – -PLUS however many more are ferried in to destroy us. etc etc etc.

    • Lester the Cynic
      Posted August 18, 2020 at 3:14 pm | Permalink


    • Lynn Atkinson
      Posted August 18, 2020 at 5:34 pm | Permalink

      They MUST be sent back no matter how long they have been here and even if they were born here (illegally).

    • Fred H
      Posted August 18, 2020 at 7:16 pm | Permalink

      Heard on the radio news today – – 400 unaccompanied ‘children’ arrived on our shores this last year.
      Begs questions: How many of them needed a shave? How many had the latest smart phones? How many had no ID papers? How many claimed relatives already here?

      • rose
        Posted August 18, 2020 at 8:16 pm | Permalink

        And if real children, how many had been put in the boat for the purpose of blackmailing the border forces? If they were with their real parents, why aren’t they now?

    • Mark B
      Posted August 18, 2020 at 7:34 pm | Permalink

      This matter will soon cone to ahead. People losing their jobs can still vote. And they will not forget. I know I won’t.

  44. Christine
    Posted August 18, 2020 at 8:53 am | Permalink

    In the DWP they are managing the massive increase in Universal Credit claims by moving staff from other areas. I wanted to buy some extra pension contribution years but they won’t deal with any enquiries until at least September. The benefit computer systems are extremely complex and quite rightly, due to security reasons, cannot be accessed remotely from home. According to friends who work there, the amount of benefit fraud currently being committed is massive. IT staff in both DWP and HMRC have worked very hard to cope with the computer changes from the furlough scheme and the increase in the unemployed and must be given credit for their efforts. The ramifications from this disruption will be felt for years.

  45. Caterpillar
    Posted August 18, 2020 at 8:55 am | Permalink

    I would like to see immediate publication of the standard analysis of GCSE results by ethnicity, free school meals, type of school (e.g. religious denomination) etc. This should be published compared with previous years (as usual) but with both the algorithm results used and the teachers grading used. This will give a clear public indication of whether the algorithm or the teachers’ marks were more reliable.

  46. Caterpillar
    Posted August 18, 2020 at 9:04 am | Permalink

    What support, protection and compensation is being given to teachers who will now be subject to retribution from pupils?

    Teachers are now going to get direct blame for whether pupils have passed or failed, in some cases this will put teachers at risk of direct physical harm, in other cases ‘just’ mental harm through stress.

    The PM’s decision to put the reason for whether a pupil has failed directly onto what a teacher (whether school moderated or not) forecast is an act of gross irresponsibility and does not recognise the context in which some teachers have to work.

  47. Caterpillar
    Posted August 18, 2020 at 9:07 am | Permalink

    I have serious concerns about public sector working at home with sensitive data This is not the correct environment.

    • a-tracy
      Posted August 18, 2020 at 3:28 pm | Permalink

      I agree with Caterpillar, especially if their family isn’t security cleared too.

    • Sharon Jagger
      Posted August 18, 2020 at 4:48 pm | Permalink

      With our neighbour’s son working from home, sitting in the patio it was hard not to listen to conversations.

      At least our son went indoors for confidential conversations.

      Apparently one person overheard about a merger of two businesses from a phone call st home – not at all ideal!

  48. Nigl
    Posted August 18, 2020 at 9:17 am | Permalink

    Talking of the fragmented public sector response essential reading (DT) for all of their devotees, namely how the private sector in the form of the supermarkets scaled up and reworked their business models almost overnight.

    What a contrast to PHE?

    And in a tip of the hat to an under pressure government, they were always there and listening and acting quickly as in the case of competition law to allow cross organisational working.

    • a-tracy
      Posted August 19, 2020 at 9:46 am | Permalink

      It wasn’t just supermarkets, think of our bread manufacturers – no break in service for our daily bread.
      Dairies – producing milk, onward to cheese, yoghurt etc.
      Contactless deliveries created overnight with real struggles to get ppe getting gazumped by the NHS on orders placed quickly.
      Some care homes did a superb job with Directors and Managers with foresight buying-in sufficient re-useable ppe and strict procedures from the start, many staff sleeping in, these people need identifying and best practice shown and recognised – not all were appalling death traps.
      All the people in the private sector food chain kept us all fed.
      It was the media that distorted the stock control – causing a run on toilet rolls, hand gel, soap that went on for weeks, no need to hype that up we wouldn’t have run out without their daily interventions and empty shelves telling people exactly what they thought was running out when the first pictures were from Australia.

  49. Christine
    Posted August 18, 2020 at 9:22 am | Permalink

    The problem with Government, unlike private industry, is that it can’t act quickly. I know someone working on the COVID-19 vaccine. They need to buy specialist equipment to manufacture the vaccine but are stuck in the Government procurement process where they can only buy from the preferred suppliers, none of which manufacture the large-scale machinery necessary. Now they have to go through the rigorous process of producing a business case in order to purchase the correct equipment. I don’t know if this process will change once we leave the constraints of the EU but I doubt it very much. This is an example of where Government ministers could make a difference.

  50. Peter
    Posted August 18, 2020 at 9:27 am | Permalink

    “There are a number of worries about the day to day management of public services by Departments and quangos.”

    It is not just civil servants and quangos that are the problem though.

    There is a fortune wasted on private companies employed to do work for the public sector.

    Their continued failure seems to be no threat to further work or contract renewals. It’s as if being in the private sector absolves them of responsibility. Maybe doctrinaire blindness kicks in and their failures are overlooked?

    I will not name the companies involved, as the post would get deleted, buts its easy enough to find countless examples by looking elsewhere.

  51. A.Sedgwick
    Posted August 18, 2020 at 9:28 am | Permalink

    Covid has accelerated the need for GP reform. The NHS nearly did not happen as family doctors through BMA stuck out for their independent status in 1948 and we ended up with this increasingly contradictory self employed anomaly. In fairness FDs were just that, on call to their home number 24 hours a day, no answer phones, and house calls were the norm. Gordon Brown bought them off again in a totally different world where the one doctor practice from a room in house had grown into multi doctor clinics but only open at best 60 hours a week and then with not all services available and approaching double the population.

    Pre Covid accessing appointments and treatments had become fraught on both sides. Post Covid GP surgeries are edging towards a 111 service with A & E rumoured to be next in line. Those three units should be amalgamated with employed GPs; fewer, bigger surgeries open 24/7. It is ridiculous patients’ hospital notes cannot routinely be accessed either way.

    • M Brandreth- Jones
      Posted August 18, 2020 at 7:01 pm | Permalink

      The need for reform is at the door of those who misuse the services due their lack of a basic understanding of health and minor illness. Over the counter products are many and varied , yet are underused due to a simple lack of knowledge. Things will change . Larger general practices are not working. Newly trained GPs do not do the work of the Nurse general practitioner who will take ECG’s ,physiological tests, blood sampling on the day and will prescribe within her / his remit . We do not need highly qualified GP’s for the greater part of a general practice , what we need are qualified people who do and know.

      • Fred H
        Posted August 18, 2020 at 9:22 pm | Permalink

        and a redress of balance of salaries?

        • a-tracy
          Posted August 19, 2020 at 9:55 am | Permalink

          Yes, Fred!

          Indeed so many previous doctors appointments delegated, pregnant women can now go through an entire pregnancy never seeing a doctor or consultant, entirely midwifery care – even for those with previous serious loss.

          I know people who diagnose themselves with all sorts of illness from athletes foot when they have a serious infection in their feet. Self diagnosis: Hives self treated with over the counter cream, when they had a serious condition that required hospital treatment and a course of steroids.

          Self-diagnosed eye infection treated with over the counter drops – a slipped retina.

          The doctors don’t realise they’re putting themselves out of front line care yet.

          • Fred H
            Posted August 19, 2020 at 8:24 pm | Permalink

            With the growing shortage of Doctors, and the unavailability of appointments in recent years – has Covid fear in the profession nudged us toward abandoning GPs in favour of self-help, pharmacy advice , and front-line care of nurses etc? Google browsing might be quicker and easier than repeated calls to surgery wait queue that end in ‘no chance’.

    • glen cullen
      Posted August 18, 2020 at 10:39 pm | Permalink

      Imagine a world where you didn’t have to wait or beg for a doctors prescription

      It’s the only power doctors have

      Now imagine a world where a doctor says you need a antibiotic and you have the freedom to purchase said antibiotic without any paperwork in any outlet of your choice ?

      The current NHS has been designed by doctors who didn’t want an NHS

  52. Everhopeful
    Posted August 18, 2020 at 9:36 am | Permalink

    Well there is the small matter of allowing thousands of people to cross the Channel and helping them to enter the country illegally.
    (I believe the Public Sector was supposed to defend our borders??)
    Possibly the intention has always been to divert our attention from the no doubt burgeoning number of legal immigrants..
    How do MPs think they will escape the consequences of all this?
    More lock downs?

  53. glen cullen
    Posted August 18, 2020 at 9:49 am | Permalink

    Deaths in UK (pop.68m) last seven days – 14, 20, 18, 11, 3, 5 & 3

    So why are we still in lockdown ?

    • M Hopkins
      Posted August 18, 2020 at 2:44 pm | Permalink

      Glen Cullen I’d like to know the answer to that question too.

      • Sharon Jagger
        Posted August 18, 2020 at 4:52 pm | Permalink

        Glen Cullen

        Me too! Behaviour is like it should have been in March…

        Seems vastly over the top!

        And why do some roads still have blocked off traffic lanes to allow for social distancing?

        • Fred H
          Posted August 19, 2020 at 7:37 am | Permalink

          Councils sleep-walking as usual.

    • a-tracy
      Posted August 18, 2020 at 3:29 pm | Permalink

      glen, we’re bringing it back from France, Spain, and other holiday destinations by the thousands each week.

      • glen cullen
        Posted August 18, 2020 at 9:12 pm | Permalink

        France (pop.65m) 22 deaths
        Spain (pop.47m) 24 deaths

        • a-tracy
          Posted August 19, 2020 at 10:06 am | Permalink

          “Coronavirus cases are rising in Germany, Spain and other countries in western Europe, with Spain recording 1418 new infections on Tuesday, and Germany detecting 1200 cases in the last 24 hours, the country’s biggest daily increase for three months.” New Scientist 12 Aug “In the Netherlands, daily new infections are back to about half the level they were at during the initial peak.”

          We have been two weeks behind the patterns of infection across Europe. America is always compared with individual EU Countries but if you add all 26/27 up Europe is much more infected and the pattern is similar.
          “Germany’s health minister, Jens Spahn, says people returning from holiday may be the reason for the increasing number of cases in Germany”

          • glen cullen
            Posted August 19, 2020 at 2:34 pm | Permalink

            Infections don’t result in death

            Infections in many cases are mild

            Death in general with covid are related to the over 60s with health problems

    • Lifelogic
      Posted August 18, 2020 at 3:33 pm | Permalink

      Indeed and average total deaths each day about 1,400!

      • Lifelogic
        Posted August 18, 2020 at 3:34 pm | Permalink

        Far more lives would be saved if people just stopped eating and drinking too much.

        • Caterpillar
          Posted August 18, 2020 at 9:38 pm | Permalink

          That’s not what Mr Sunak wants, he believes in paying people to eat more.

          That’s not what Mr Hancock wants – no PHE for him trying to encourage healthy behaviour.

      • glen cullen
        Posted August 18, 2020 at 8:52 pm | Permalink
    • Old person
      Posted August 18, 2020 at 4:24 pm | Permalink

      From the website – total Covid-19 tests …

      12/08/2020 …. 18,868,566
      14/08/2020 …. 14,142,736
      17/08/2020 …… 6,981,493

      Why is no one asking for an explanation about this sudden reduction? Why silence from the government?

      • glen cullen
        Posted August 18, 2020 at 10:43 pm | Permalink

        The less they test the higher the percentage result
        The more they test the lower the percentage result

      • Old person
        Posted August 19, 2020 at 9:38 am | Permalink

        And yesterday the total tests jump again …
        18/08/2020 …. 14,825,051
        Were the total tests previously reported, the number ordered (and delivered?) rather than the number used. It would account for some of the unused tests recently recalled from care homes.
        And now for this week’s anomaly in deaths. Every week the Monday figure (from Sunday’s deaths) has always been smaller than the Tuesday figure (from Monday’s deaths). So Monday,
        17/08/2020 …. 233 deaths, and last time there was more deaths reported on a Monday was,
        04/05/2020 …. 288 deaths (4 weeks after peak weekly deaths).
        And this Tuesday
        18/08/2020 …… 12 deaths reported.
        How can any decisions ever be made using flawed data?

    • glen cullen
      Posted August 18, 2020 at 4:45 pm | Permalink

      12 deaths today….I wonder what the age of all deaths this past seven days, its sad but I bet none of the deaths where of working age

      • rose
        Posted August 18, 2020 at 8:21 pm | Permalink

        Those 12 deaths were of people who died having been tested for the Wuhan virus in the last 28 days and found positive, not necessarily people who had actually died of it.

        • glen cullen
          Posted August 18, 2020 at 10:44 pm | Permalink

          You can’t go moving the goal-posts

          • Fred H
            Posted August 19, 2020 at 7:35 am | Permalink

            unless you are a civil servant or an MP/Minister.

      • Caterpillar
        Posted August 18, 2020 at 9:44 pm | Permalink

        Its informative to still follow the NHS hospital total deaths to see the age distrinution. As you imply, not much happening below 60, the small number is above.

    • Fred H
      Posted August 18, 2020 at 7:23 pm | Permalink

      Road traffic deaths have been approx 6 per day for a number of years.
      Various cancer deaths are 450 per day.
      After Covid death certificates are written, and hopefully people might begin to see an end to it, how many more Cancer ones might be raised?

  54. glen cullen
    Posted August 18, 2020 at 10:08 am | Permalink

    Its quite obvious that Senior Civil Servants and Ministers have devolved all responsibility and direct management to quangos

    They’ve forgotten the management mantra ‘’pass on the job not the responsibility’’

    Once upon a time with a smaller civil service we ran an empire now we cant run a single department

    My direct and in-direct experience tells me you can split the public sector in two – those earning below £25k and those earning above £25k. The below people in general work hard and are diligent and the above spend most of their time comparing salaries, calculating their pension growth and maximising their expenses….and attend endless, useless network meeting (well anything rather than do the job there paid to do)

    I would fix the max salary of public sector to 2/3s of the PM

    • Mark B
      Posted August 18, 2020 at 7:36 pm | Permalink


  55. Everhopeful
    Posted August 18, 2020 at 10:09 am | Permalink

    The public sector reacted to COVID19 by using computer modelling.
    They wrecked the economy and probably the mental and physical health of thousands.
    They then thought it was a good idea to repeat the error to arrive at exam grades.
    Two very bad responses to such novel problems.

    Ephesians 6:12
    “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms”.

    • glen cullen
      Posted August 18, 2020 at 4:48 pm | Permalink

      Very apt using ephesian 6:12

  56. Peter Parsons
    Posted August 18, 2020 at 10:32 am | Permalink

    Perhaps a good place to start would be the requirements on many of these government departments to work in what might be considered old fashioned ways, for example, the requirement to send original documents to places like the DVLA when applying for a driving license. If everyone at the DVLA is working from home, who will be at the office dealing with these submissions, processing them and returning them?

    Often such processes are down to legal requirements, the consequence of votes in Parliament. Perhaps a useful thing for an MP to do would be look at the relevant laws and see what changes could be made to those to modernise some of these legal requirements?

  57. Tony Sharp
    Posted August 18, 2020 at 11:23 am | Permalink

    Sir John,
    The main reason why there are incompetencies and backlogs in the Public Sector is two fold:
    1) They staff are allowed to work from home. They Don’t .
    2) The staff can self certify ‘unwell’ and claim ‘CV19 ‘ like symptoms. That means they don’t even pretend to work at home.
    The answer to these problems is stop the fiction of home working in the public sector and stop paying public sector workers fgor = not working. Teachers are the biggest abusers of this system.

    • Martin in Cardiff
      Posted August 19, 2020 at 8:28 pm | Permalink

      If testing were as widespread and routine as it is in most modern countries then these ruses would be exposed.

  58. Know-Dice
    Posted August 18, 2020 at 11:47 am | Permalink

    Hmm… Head of England’s Test and Trace system to lead new health body – It seems that in government failure is the road to the “Gravy Train”.

    Was I mistaken in thinking that England’s Test & Trace is/was a major failure….?

  59. Peter Cousins
    Posted August 18, 2020 at 12:29 pm | Permalink

    PHE employs 5500 staff – please report on how many are being sacked and how many simply reassigned.

    • glen cullen
      Posted August 18, 2020 at 5:00 pm | Permalink

      500 will be made redundant and immediately re-employed as consultants on higher salary

      5000 no change however disturbance allowance issued

      500 additional staff employed to manage the transition to new organisation

      £50million for new logo

      Out-going CEO given golden goodbye and joins board

      Its only tax-payers money

    • Fred H
      Posted August 18, 2020 at 7:24 pm | Permalink

      the latter – all 5500.

  60. acorn
    Posted August 18, 2020 at 12:51 pm | Permalink

    The UK is the most centrally controlled government system in the EU. Since the 2010 election it has got even worse. Local government employment has reduced from 2.9 million down to 2.0 million at the start of this year and its cash – not real – spending reduced from £166 bn to 160 bn today.

    More and more activity is commanded and “penny packet” financed from Westminster via Whitehall with the latter’s employment rising from 2.8 million to 3.3 million; despite near 0.2 million being privatised.

    In the UK disasters like the current exam results, are centrally planned and executed by a small, randomly selected and frequently changed, caucus of amateur politicians that may as well be on another planet. The same exam chaos has not occured in most EU states, powerful regional government structures agreed a plan and got it sorted early on being nearer the coalface.

    • Edward2
      Posted August 18, 2020 at 3:18 pm | Permalink

      State spending 2010 £691 billion
      State spending 2020 £927 billion
      So where is the money going in your austerity filled UK?

      • glen cullen
        Posted August 18, 2020 at 8:57 pm | Permalink

        Its being spent on the repairs to the palace of westminister

      • Lynn Atkinson
        Posted August 19, 2020 at 4:37 am | Permalink

        Has to be increased asset prices as everyone tries to get rid of cash. That’s why there will be no ‘house-price crash’ which they are talking up to try to restrain the increase.

      • acorn
        Posted August 19, 2020 at 11:47 am | Permalink

        State spending was £13,188 per capita – £881 billion – in FY 19/20. In 2010 it was £13,846 per capita – £869 billion in today’s money, £742 billion in 2010 money. You have to GDP deflate historical numbers to make proper comparisons. State spending is currently 39.8% of GDP, it was 45.8% in 2010.

        • Edward2
          Posted August 19, 2020 at 8:33 pm | Permalink

          Ah the usual statistical fallback….per capita.
          Cash is king.

        • hefner
          Posted August 21, 2020 at 7:09 pm | Permalink

          acorn, you might be asking much from Edward2. The ‘hilarious bit’ being that Edward2 as concerned by immigration from the continent as anybody on this blog likes to comment on how many people have recently arrived in this country, obviously a ‘per capita’ quantity.

          But when given GDP per capita he can only comment ‘the usual statistical fallback’. Rather surprising not to want to use the most relevant indicator for the problem at hand, isn’t it? I thought businesspeople would have been very keen on such things.

    • a-tracy
      Posted August 18, 2020 at 3:51 pm | Permalink

      Manipulation of statistics is easy acorn.

      Local government made lots of ex local government services private sector like housing associations who employ hundreds and thousands, all ‘working’ from home still!! Still operating like old Council employees with best perks, pay and benefits, best employers all around apparently according to the signs, not building new, they only paid £7k per house from the council and did hardly anything of note to improve home building locally. They don’t look after the grounds of their properties, the landscaping is the pits and their homes had all the best amounts of green space and free play areas for the children.

      There are four devolved governments, local majors taking over the NHS resources say in Greater Manchester who had problems with PPE and sending people out into Care Homes too …and on.

      Many schools in Liverpool are under LEA control this is down to Central London governence too are you saying? They don’t get pupil premiums and more per head than the nearby children in other Boroughs for very poor results?

      This screw up after screw up in the public sector all trying to be leveled at central government isn’t working as much as you’d like it to. We can see with our own eyes what workers are doing in our areas.

      • a-tracy
        Posted August 18, 2020 at 3:52 pm | Permalink

        mayors not majors – none of whom were required or requested by us.
        And so called Police Commissioners – pathetic waste of money.

        • glen cullen
          Posted August 19, 2020 at 8:40 am | Permalink


      • acorn
        Posted August 19, 2020 at 3:28 pm | Permalink

        You say, “Local government made lots of ex local government services private sector”. All privatisations were and are still are legislated for by Downing Street. Local government has no “sovereign powers” to do anything other that which Central government allows or mandates it to do.

    • rose
      Posted August 18, 2020 at 8:07 pm | Permalink

      “The same exam chaos has not occured in most EU states, 2

      Isn’t that because they took the exams? We have a hostile Blob here, intent on bringing down the Government, and they weren’t going to let the schools stay open. Nor were the media.

  61. Syd
    Posted August 18, 2020 at 1:43 pm | Permalink
    • formula57
      Posted August 18, 2020 at 4:16 pm | Permalink

      A worthwhile read, cogent and shocking. Thank you for posting.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted August 18, 2020 at 5:06 pm | Permalink

      Why do they have grades? Better just to publish which percentile candidates were in from 1st to 99th then grade inflation cannot happen you are judged by your position relative to the others.

      At school in my day you got your % and you postion in the class 1st, 15th or last. In my case usually top in Maths & Physics but last in French.

  62. forthurst
    Posted August 18, 2020 at 1:49 pm | Permalink

    There is a total misallocation of resources. Many of our brightest people are syphoned off by banksters who need high quality graduates to play the market (any market); the man who could devise a functioning algorithm to address the unavailability of A level results is too busy devising algorithms to enable a firm of Wall Street crooks to rake in billions while they get on with the important business of planning the future of mankind. Not that there is much vocational work for engineering graduates or many in science as the banksters and private equity spivs have sold off their putative employers to foreign predators.

    Meanwhile examinations and tertiary education have been turned into profit centres. Examination boards compete in their ability to detect a spark in the poorest script. Universities proliferate like bunnies in springtime and courses likewise to cater for skills for which there is no demand, except for the public sector where a degree, any degree is an essential qualification for employment in the many outlets for public maladministration.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted August 18, 2020 at 3:31 pm | Permalink

      No algorithm was needed. Firstly the exams could have been taken anyway and secondly the best solution was to give students the teachers grades, publish the figures for over estimation of grades in the past for each school and let universities etc. make decision on all the info available. GCSEs, UKCATs, teacher grades, interviews, BMATs, A/S levels.

      • forthurst
        Posted August 18, 2020 at 8:48 pm | Permalink

        I didn’t say who should; I said who could.

    • Anonymous
      Posted August 18, 2020 at 7:05 pm | Permalink

      I wish I had written that.

      • forthurst
        Posted August 18, 2020 at 9:16 pm | Permalink

        I wish I could read as fast as JR!

  63. ChrisS
    Posted August 18, 2020 at 4:04 pm | Permalink

    I will concentrate my firepower on one part of the public sector only : Offqual

    Offqual have only one role in life : to manage the exam system and ensure that standards are rigorously maintained.

    Recent events have proven that the organisation is not fit for purpose. It was given a relatively straightforward task : come up with a set of grades for students that maintained standards compared with previous years. It has singularly failed to even come close to achieving its objectives and has caused chaos in the sector.

    Are heads now rolling at Offqual ? Of course they aren’t !

    This is a typical public sector failure where ministers have to carry the can for the failings of their so-called professional advisers both within the D of E and Offqual.

  64. steve
    Posted August 18, 2020 at 4:15 pm | Permalink

    “It appears that the Passport Office allowed a substantial backlog to build up for UK passports.”

    There wouldn’t be a backlog if they’d pull their finger out and do some work for a change.

    • Wonky Moral Compass
      Posted August 19, 2020 at 5:49 am | Permalink

      Credit where it’s due. I submitted my renewal application online on July 27th and got my new passport on August 13th. Much faster than expected and I wasn’t quick off the mark in returning my old passport.

  65. Ex-Tory
    Posted August 18, 2020 at 4:22 pm | Permalink

    Sir John

    You are woefully understating the failure of the NHS. I know of someone who has been in agony since March with an operable back condition, and still has no date given. The hospital at which she will eventually have the operation is more than half empty.

  66. David Brown
    Posted August 18, 2020 at 5:05 pm | Permalink

    There are 2 big issues for the Public Sector namely:
    1 Lack of adequate funding.
    2 Political interference – especially around PPE and insistence on the use of private sector company for Track and Trace.
    Generally Local Government resilience teams have responded well to Covid.
    On a separate but related topic Gov Ministers must try to be more careful and selective in what they say. 2 big examples come to mind “Track and Trace” system and “School Grades” both have turned out to be challenging and probably made worse by Ministers stating how good it will be. I don’t blame Ministers for the problems but its very easy for the press to fire back when bold statements don’t live up to reality. Better be more cautious and selective in the choice of words.

    • Edward2
      Posted August 19, 2020 at 8:13 am | Permalink

      The public sector tried and failed, spending over £20 million on their own track and trace app before going back to apps that already existed.
      Having wasted several months of vital time.

      • hefner
        Posted August 20, 2020 at 6:44 pm | Permalink

        ‘TraceTogether‘ was officially released in Singapore on 20 March. The Swiss had distributed theirs by the end of April. Germany had one (not particularly taken by the public) by end of May, France by very early June.
        So indeed the UK wasted several months of vital time.

        Now, who asked the ‘public sector’ to design a centralised UK dedicated Track and Trace app, under the argument of protecting privacy (hilarious given that HM’s subjects come fourth with 5m CCTVs to ‘look after’ them, behind China (200m), the USA (50m), Germany (5.2m), and possibly creating time-series of data for future epidemiological research.

        PS: BTW £20m are peanuts relative to what has recently been distributed by the Chancellor.
        BTW2, is Serco part of the ‘public sector’?

        • Edward2
          Posted August 20, 2020 at 7:23 pm | Permalink

          They were advised to try apps already tried tested and working but they had a determination to not use the private sector existing alternatives.
          So they went off to try to develop their own app.
          And many millions later gave up.

          Only a socialist would call £23 million peanuts.

          • hefner
            Posted August 21, 2020 at 7:17 am | Permalink

            You still have not addressed the point: who originally told the ‘public sector’ not to use the background system made available by Google-Apple in mid-March (the private sector existing alternatives)?

            £23m / £150bn = 0.015% socialist? numerate, more likely. What business were you saying you are into the other day?

          • Edward2
            Posted August 21, 2020 at 5:08 pm | Permalink

            They had an aversion to using the private sector.
            It can be seen in their early policies on PPE

            I love how you public sector lefties dismiss £23 million as just loose change.
            Try telling that to people who are homeless or disabled or use food banks.
            If you run a successful business you keep a close check on every pound.

          • hefner
            Posted August 22, 2020 at 7:43 pm | Permalink

            How I love your ‘public sector leftie’.
            I am certainly looking after the penny to make sure the pounds add up in my own finances.

            You must be one of the very last followers of Mrs Thatcher still considering (as she said she did) the finances of the state as the ones of a family. Are you still keeping this type of views on the country’s budget?

            The UK Government is borrowing £150bn because of the pandemic. Whatever you say £23m (according to FactCheck it might only be £10.8m) is only around 0.01(5)%.

    • a-tracy
      Posted August 19, 2020 at 8:51 am | Permalink

      David, there were plenty of people at home on full pay in the public sector who could have been retasked operating track and trace, most of them have degrees, their jobs were just closed down – no work expected – furloughed. The public sector are not flexible enough to respond, everything takes ages longer to organise anything just look at the A level fiasco – I know private exam companies who have operated and graded students because the private sector doesn’t get money in regardless of no service being offered. All this halting of activity whilst police colleagues, and supermarket workers, drivers, bread makers were all expected to work throughout for just 20% more pay.

  67. Anonymous
    Posted August 18, 2020 at 5:10 pm | Permalink

    The Logistics Corps did really well.

  68. glen cullen
    Posted August 18, 2020 at 5:41 pm | Permalink

    ‘’It’s emerged that 4,000 hotel rooms were used for between March and June for illegal immigrants /asylum seekers who couldn’t safely be housed in standard accommodation’’ – source BBC website today

    • Will in Hampshire
      Posted August 18, 2020 at 10:21 pm | Permalink

      Can’t we require these economic migrants to repay such costs for accommodation and board once they exceed a certain minimum earnings threshold?

      • glen cullen
        Posted August 19, 2020 at 8:43 am | Permalink

        No – we will fund them and give the every benefit for the rest of their lifes

    • a-tracy
      Posted August 19, 2020 at 8:46 am | Permalink

      These hotels would all be going bump glen – its just moving deck chairs around. The problem is they had all their functions cancelled, all Christmas shindigs are off, all corporate gatherings are off, business people are ‘working’ remotely, many will never recover. This is just a way of keeping them on life support, however, rooms should be heavily discounted, the people taking the free accommodation should be cleaning the hotel and assisting to keep the grounds and working in the local areas litter picking, scrubbing off graffiti assisting council ground staff, when the usual council ground staff just leave grass cuttings in the road, or sprinkle shale down without brushing up the pavements and cleaning up the roads and verges they could be engaged safely in these tasks, no one should get money for nothing for months on end.

  69. hefner
    Posted August 18, 2020 at 7:34 pm | Permalink

    Thanks Sir John, I am always looking for Vivian’s posts and keep forgetting the site name.

    • hefner
      Posted August 19, 2020 at 3:07 pm | Permalink

      I find this site hilarious. Dear Vivian et al. reporting on Charles-Henri Gallois and his Frexit party, the party previously led by Francois Asselineau who got the whole of 0.92% of the votes at the 2017 French presidential elections. I guess that must be why the ineffable Lynn talks so encouragingly of Frexit. Some colorful characters on this blog.

  70. rose
    Posted August 18, 2020 at 8:29 pm | Permalink

    Very good to hear you this evening on the internet with IEA. No interrupting, no hostility, no rudeness, no bullying, no shouting down, no false accusations…one forgets what civilized interviews on the air could be like.

  71. rose
    Posted August 18, 2020 at 9:02 pm | Permalink

    I can’t be the only one who thinks it a good idea to keep illegal immigrants on the idle cruise ships in international waters. It is not sustainable to keep putting tens of thousands of uninvited men into hotels. If they get the message that they will be kept on the cruise ships indefinitely, they may not think it such a good idea to stay.

    • a-tracy
      Posted August 19, 2020 at 8:43 am | Permalink

      They need to speed up processing and decision making.
      Would they split men and women?
      Who would look after the children? Would the asylum seekers be engaged to work on the boat in order to pay for their board and food?
      Otherwise could it be funded by UK International Aid?

      I am sick of seeing cardboard waving immigrants in student lodgings (that our kids paid good money to stay in for several years) moaning about accommodation – get a grip I’ve heard enough.

      • rose
        Posted August 19, 2020 at 2:27 pm | Permalink

        They are nearly all men. A very few women and children, usually to blackmail the authorities while in the boats. The plan is for the families to follow within six months.

  72. Ian
    Posted August 19, 2020 at 6:00 am | Permalink

    So how many of you will vote for more of the same please ?
    There is only one candidate who will give us what we want, and he has nothing to do with the shenanigans going on in the two House’s.

  73. ChrisS
    Posted August 19, 2020 at 7:48 am | Permalink

    Sir John :

    Do you know what is happening to the illegal immigrants who are arriving in Dover by boat ?
    Are they definitely being isolated for 14 days and then tested before being processed or not ?

    If not, why not ?

  74. Lindsay McDougall
    Posted August 20, 2020 at 1:19 am | Permalink

    The failures of the NHS will continue as long as the system is free-at-the-point-of-consumption die-on-the-waiting-list. We should:

    – Pay nurses a bit more to recruit and to reduce staff turnover
    – Introduce modest charges, payable by debit or credit card, both for demand management purposes and to raise more funding than taxation alone can raise
    – Review all money spent on geriatric medicine and cut a lot of futile costs, such as over prescription of powerful drugs
    – Ensure that local authorities can raise funds to finance care of the elderly at home, to avoid bed blocking

    And get all COVID-19 patients out of mainstream hospitals and into the Nightingale hospitals. People simply don’t believe that mainstream hospitals can isolate infections.

  75. Lindsay McDougall
    Posted August 20, 2020 at 1:20 am | Permalink

    And one general point; if you minimise the public sector, there is less to manage.

One Trackback

  • 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.

  • John’s Books

  • Email Alerts

    You can sign up to receive John's blog posts by e-mail by entering your e-mail address in the box below.

    Enter your email address:

    Delivered by FeedBurner

    The e-mail service is powered by Google's FeedBurner service. Your information is not shared.

  • Map of Visitors

    Locations of visitors to this page