Public sector productivity

 

There is renewed interest in productivity. The way to higher pay and better services is to work smarter. Applying new technology and more machine and digital power can help employees achieve more. Improving ways of working to make them easier with more right first time can save money and improve service. As improvements are made so it is possible to share the financial benefits between the service users and the providers.

UK productivity has been disappointing this century. The ONS figures for public service productivity shows that our large public service sector has been particularly poor. Between 1997 and 2019 pre pandemic total public sector productivity rose just 3.7% over the whole period. In the first decade under Labour, 1998-2008, it did not grow at all. In the following period it grew at 0.4% a year.  Public service productivity fell over lockdowns and has still not got back to 2019 levels.It was 6.8% below average 2019 levels in the first quarter of 2022,  more than wiping out all the gains of the previous two decades.

This should be a matter of grave concern. Productivity of making welfare payments, for example is well down despite the arrival of much smarter computer programmes and automated payment systems. In the case of education some argue there can be a need to lower labour productivity by allowing fewer pupils per teacher or more teaching assistants per class. There are also ways of raising productivity when it comes to support services and use of on line materials.

The private sector has managed a bit better record on productivity, though here too there are service areas where a build up of more regulatory requirements and greater administration has offset gains from more digital processing and record keeping. Factory productivity has continued to advance rapidly in the best cases with the application of more computer control and robotic handling.

It is time the Cinderella of productivity came to the economic ball. There are ways to raise quality and reduce costs at the same time which are much needed in some public service areas.

141 Comments

  1. Mark B
    August 21, 2022

    Good morning.

    Public Sector productivity is far worse than this once you take into account the fact that much of what use to be done on paper is now online – ie automated.

    I believe that there are only two possible solutions.

    1) Competition. Perhaps when applying for a driving license we should be given the choice of between the DVLA or other registered companies. The fee can go towards their salaries / profits. More license applications processed equals greater fees. In other words, incentivise output.

    2) Where possible reduce, government bureaucracy. Fewer forms and rules should reduce the need for government interaction and thereby less government overal.

    And finally. Encourage Ministers’ to protect the Public Purse and reduce costs. No more begging for money.

    Less is more.

    1. Ian Wragg
      August 21, 2022

      6 months to get probate. 18 months for Poer of Attorney.
      Productivity is much worse than you state when you get involved at the coal face.
      No one to speak to and no replies to written questions.
      Abysmal

      1. Lifelogic
        August 21, 2022

        Indeed nothing works if you do eventually get any reply to a letter it rarely even addresses the points you raised. Often just some standard & irrelevant reply.

      2. Lifelogic
        August 21, 2022

        Another trick they have is a long wait on the phone then they say you need another section so another 30 mins wait then another then you get cut off or hung up on! Not just the state sector either banks can be just as bad but then they are often effectively state sector I suppose.

        1. Hope
          August 21, 2022

          Bristol council in national papers today for spying on parents who criticised the council! The council looked at wedding photographs and social media sites to see what it could find against those who criticised it. Productivity, JR! How many are employed in councils across the UK to spy on its citizens when council tax has risen above inflation year on year!

          Mayors need sacking we did not want or vote for them. Same for police commissioners, that would help productivity and lower costs to taxpayer.

          Teresa May and Tory socialists allows u dear the snooper charter to spy on peoples computers. Productivity, why are the councils even allowed to to do this let alone spend our taxes spying on us? Perhaps JR could explain?

          1. Lifelogic
            August 21, 2022

            Appalling!

      3. Donna
        August 21, 2022

        I got probate for a deceased aunt who died intestate in about 6 months and Power of Attorney for my surviving uncle in about 3 months.

        In the process my solicitor discovered that their bungalow had never been registered in their name (presumably an oversight of the solicitor who dealt with the purchase) so that is now underway. I’ve been told it will take over a year and not to try and speed it up since it’s likely to cause more delay, not less!

        1. miami.mode
          August 21, 2022

          Perhaps there should be a sliding scale for fees – full price for 1 month, half price for 3 months, quarter price for 6 months and free for any longer.

      4. Hope
        August 21, 2022

        JR, what like MPs earning £83,000 plus expenses for a part time unqualified job! 650 to do the work of about 250! Same for the 850 lords. Your party was going to cut the number and answer the Lothian question!

        How has your mass immigration effected all public services productivity?

        Using figures from a quango that previously you made clear are not to be relied on like the OBR. Again, your party was going to have a bonfire of quangos, instead increased the number. How many czars and task forces your govt created to deflect blame at taxpayer expense. At least provide credibility your party and govt have a proven track record of productivity failure.

        1. anon
          August 21, 2022

          This… but wait bonus time at the BOE? Its obvious we don’t matter and are powerless.

          This is why we need direct democracy and referendums that are binding. We need MP;s subject to recall by the electorate for any reason, just by a petition of say 50% of the voters at the last count.

      5. formula57
        August 21, 2022

        Probate (in England) is advertised as taking up to eight weeks and I recently found that was so. I understand the first three weeks are whilst the warehouse in Harlow copies documents to electronic form (say ten minutes per case) and then during the next five weeks HMCTS people review those copies and make a grant (say less then two generous hours a case). What happens in the other seven weeks and four and a half plus days is unclear.

      6. a-tracy
        August 21, 2022

        Thats good on probate our late uncles probate took 11 months. Lodged by a solicitor, recorded delivery receipted.

      7. anon
        August 21, 2022

        POA online system – needs an option which can move past “wet signatures”. It also needs to be able to amend POA to another close relative who may not have been available, able or willing to act at the time. Particularly if the donor is getting to the point more help is required. The slowness can be a problem but digitisation should help.

        HMG can access passport data, driving license data, council tax, crime records etc. This should be a tightly limited with specific one off use being authorized by subjects, for those purposes only.

      8. a-tracy
        August 25, 2022

        The cost of a professional-led probation went up 76.1%! A none professional lodged probate application went up 37.4% in September 2021. It makes you wonder how many staff and managers are employed in this department and are they mainly working at home? Because something went seriously wrong.
        To add insult, the professional-led probation application with all the correct paperwork, solicitor written will and evidence lodged and receipted took 11 months; an amateur probate application with a homemade will took just three months.

        The private sector is constantly criticised for low productivity but seriously what is the productivity measure in this department compared to 2018? How many staff have been reduced now that most wills are lodged on-line and are computerised?

    2. Lifelogic
      August 21, 2022

      Often filling forms in on line wastes even more time and encourages the state sector to issue even more (and more complex forms) and demands. This as then they can fine you for late completion or for any minor errors. Often with HMRC their forms fail to cover all situations and you are then forced to select & buy commercial software to comply – so yet another back door tax and yet more of your time is wasted. If you need help completing the form you are likely to be on the phone for an hour or so and even then you will be lucky to speak to anyone who knows remotely what they are talking about.

      1. Lifelogic
        August 21, 2022

        “Electric cars to plug power back into the grid after a trial by Octopus Energy” – reported in the Sunday Times today.

        Anyone thinking of doing this should consider the large devaluation of the car and battery from this extra charge and discharge. When they do these sums they will usually find it costs them far more than they will ever get paid. So they are being ripped of. But then they bought an expensive EV so perhaps are used to that. If the grid needs battery storage it is far cheaper to use cheaper, heavier, suitably designed, easier to maintain, static batteries or other storage methods. Of course the main reason they need battery storage at all is the moronic excessive use of the unreliables – wind, solar… A pile of coal, a tank or supply of fracked or mined methane and oil are the best and cheapest storage methods!

        1. Mickey Taking
          August 21, 2022

          This winter I think EV owners will go sit in the car and turn the heater on.

          1. Lifelogic
            August 21, 2022

            Well a bed and an electric blanket would be more efficient!

    3. Nottingham Lad Himself
      August 21, 2022

      Under Labour, the excellent HM Land Registry – which I used a lot – operated a by-return-of-post service.

      After the Tories’ – ongoing – war on the public sector, some applications are taking over a year. This is not wasted on the many professionals trying to use this crucial service, which is a major part of the legal system.

      I have had very simple applications waiting since May without so far being assigned a Registrar.

      Yes, you’ll blame the people again, I expect.

      1. a-tracy
        August 22, 2022

        NLH, are there fewer employed people now than there were in 2009? Do you think this is due to working at home?
        Is it a ‘war’ with the public sector or the labour unions? The people paying for the services of these ‘people’ are the public, has the price dropped as you say the service levels have dropped? If the price hasn’t dropped but has increased and the people haven’t dropped but have increased and get added benefits from working at home then who else is at fall if the service from these people has severely reduced?

    4. Peter
      August 21, 2022

      The buck stops with the government.

      If it’s not working well then change it. Punish civil service chiefs, deny them knighthoods, banish them to remote outposts on ‘special projects’.

      Conservatives have had long enough to tackle the issue.

      Do not bring in overpaid accountants as consultants. That only makes output even more expensive.

      Cutting back on bureaucracy would be a start. Relocation would also shake up malingerers. DVLC in Swansea might be a good place to start.

  2. turboterrier
    August 21, 2022

    As a lot of major organisations across the world have discovered over regulation can strangle any encouragement to seek continual improvement. By the time new ideas especially from the shop and office floors are conceived and then implemented they end up being totally over managed or regulated by people who didn’t think of the idea therefore didn’t own it, all trying to put their little bit into a process they possibly perceive could be a direct threat to their position.
    Our civil and public sectors IMHO are totally adrift with the leave brains at the entrance, set auto pilot, pick up brains on the way home. It runs through the many layers of control that have been added over the years in so called productivity drives. All these woke ways that are being adopted are destroying the drive of the lower levels to identify ways to improve their job and subsequent services they provide.

  3. cuibono
    August 21, 2022

    I think that possibly, to achieve high productivity you need a high level of morale.
    Govts set out to destroy morale in the civil service sometime in the 90s.
    And they succeeded in spadeloads!
    Berserk courses…involvement in charities, ( Shorts ( the sort you wear!) Days!!!), involvement in random cultural celebrations and tap on the shoulder promotions.
    Ceaseless change.
    The tearing up of the rule book.
    All destroyed morale.
    Plus the huge swathes of redundancies and Cameron’s trashing of the ever-promised ( in documents dating way back) but wiped from the internet RPI pension.
    No way to treat staff who we now see do (did) very useful work.

    1. Nigl
      August 21, 2022

      The answer is easy, they have a choice. If it so bad they can, as many do in the private sector, move to where the ‘land is greener’ allegedly.

      These people cling on to their jobs whilst hating them and moaning. They know where the ‘bus’ is going. If you don’t like the journey din’t get on.

      And as ever blaming government, whereas it is in the hands of the Managers, equally negative in my experience.

      1. cuibono
        August 21, 2022

        And?
        I thought we were discussing reasons for low productivity.
        Not dragging up ancient lefty arguments.

    2. Donna
      August 21, 2022

      I’m a retired Civil Servant.

      The constant change; moronic diversity, ‘elf n safety and other “berserk” courses; easily-manipulated promotion process; failure to value knowledge; poor line management and lack of accountability is the fault of the Senior Civil Service, not the Government.

      But you’re right about the destroyed morale. I retired early when I couldn’t stand the chaos a minute longer.

      1. cuibono
        August 21, 2022

        The Mandarins should be getting their orders from the govt.
        You think they have gone rogue?
        Or covertly doing the govt’s bidding?

    3. acorn
      August 21, 2022

      The Political and Constitutional Reform Select Committee only lasted five years, 2010 to 2015. It substituted “Public Administration” for the word “Political” after 2015. Downing Street saw Political as a threat to the Executive. The HoC lost out again.

      There is an excellent 2013 read at https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/187015/GoodLaw_report_8April_AP.pdf

      To quote from it. “Gold-plating (referring to government departments adding burdens to EU laws which imposed extra costs and restrictions on business) has been said to be a ‘British problem”. as most other EU member states have historically adopted a ‘copy out’ approach.

      “On average, the UK provides 2.6 implementing documents per EU Directive, compared with 1 in Germany and 0.8 in Portugal. In 2003 there was an average “elaboration ratio” for the UK of 330%. In an extreme example, Directive 2002/42/EC consisted of 1,167 words in its original English text but resulted in 27,000 words of implementing regulation in the UK.”

      Look at https://www.legislation.gov.uk/all I reckon there is circa 300,000 bits of Legislation in the left column. “Legislation by Year” at the bottom of the left column shows the UK was issuing around 500 bits a year to 1973. It was more like 5 to 6,000 after. The 2010 to 2015 Coalition government went banzai.

      The UK’s two centuries out of date democracy is where the UK productivity problem originates. It is near impossible nowadays to draft legislation that won’t negate, conflict or contradict, one or more hundreds of other bits of legislation. Politicians blaming Civil Servants for Westminster mistakes, has become de rigueur since the Referendum.

      1. Original Richard
        August 21, 2022

        acorn :

        You’re aptly describing the result of Robert Conquest’s second and third laws of politics applied to the Civil Service.

      2. Peter Parsons
        August 21, 2022

        Politicians blaming Civil Servants (and others) for Westminster mistakes has been de rigeur for way longer than that.

  4. cuibono
    August 21, 2022

    Working from home = no work done at all.
    How will working from home and three day school weeks dovetail with high fuel bills?
    Lots of overcoats?
    Still never mind, apparently the govt is beavering away on a set of highly draconian laws to squash us down even further.
    Including I believe not being able to criticise said govt.
    What an absolute shower.

    1. Bryan Harris
      August 21, 2022

      +1
      The contingency plans from HMG are rubbish and show just how much they care about the problems they have caused.

      They’re not going to fix them – the onus is on us to survive them.

      1. cuibono
        August 21, 2022

        +1
        Absolutely!

  5. cuibono
    August 21, 2022

    Working “smarter”….remember the Luddites?
    Look at us now!!
    The Luddites were right.

    What are you going to do with all the people who have no jobs?

  6. Lifelogic
    August 21, 2022

    Indeed there are many ways to improve public sector productivity. But so much of what the public sector does is pointless or even actively damaging often damaging to the more productive private sector. Forcing then to be less productive with more compliance staff. Daft restrictive employment laws, misdirected (often net harmful) health and safety, over complexity of tax and PAYE laws, the endless attacks on car and van users, over restrictive and slow planning rules… So the first thing to do is scrap all this negative activity, fire the staff doing these jobs, release them to get productive jobs and cut taxes with the vast saving. Start by scrapping the idiotic net zero religion. A win, win, win for everyone. We also need to attack the many damaging, rigged markets and unfair competition from the state sector in the dire state monopoly health care, energy, housing, transport, banking, education, the legal system…

    1. Lifelogic
      August 21, 2022

      Fraser Nelson today:- “For good or ill Gove was one of the most consequential ministers of modern times”

      Indeed but largely for ill. He inflicted the appalling Theresa May on the nation by knifing Boris and even wanted to put VAT on private school fees so as to make users pay four times over not just three. Rigging the market for even more for state monopoly education. The complete opposite of what is required which is a non rigged market. This in education, healthcare, energy, housing, transport…essentially he is another daft socialist at heart. He even met fell for the insane Greta Thunberg religious lunacy.

      1. MWB
        August 21, 2022

        There should be VAT on private school fees.

        1. Lifelogic
          August 21, 2022

          Why? All should go to private schools with education vouchers from the government. Otherwise it is a rigged market that kills all fair competition and gives you a dire state only solution.

        2. dixie
          August 22, 2022

          Quite so, I pay VAT on services provided by legal, financial and other professions. If I took a PAT testing course I would be charged VAT at the standard rate. So why shouldn’t those who use other private educational services.
          It smacks of unfair subsidies, demanding the poor subsidising the rich who choose to use the exclusive education resources and can afford to pay.

        3. Sea_Warrior
          August 22, 2022

          Why? The parents have already paid a ton of income-tax and NI on their earnings, and their child going to a public school lessens demand at state schools.

          1. MWB
            August 22, 2022

            Then let’s remove VAT and IPT from private healthcare fees.

      2. Pauline Baxter
        August 21, 2022

        Lifelogic. I new he was ineffectual, (bad), but I did not realise that he was THAT BAD !!

    2. Lifelogic
      August 21, 2022

      From the Sunday Times today:- “Universities push for ‘vital’ tuition fee rise
      UK students must pay closer to £24,000 a year or lose their places to foreigners, argue bosses.”

      Vital for their Vice Chancellor’s £400K salaries one assumes.

      So why in this day and age with the internet, videoed lectures, on line learning, language labs and teaching does it cost so much to teach degrees in say English, languages, history, maths, media studies, art, law, social sciences, grievence studies… perhaps for medicine, engineering, dentistry, physics, biology, chemistry yes. The best thing to do would be to kill all the student loans for other than for some in demand subject and only for people with ABB minimum. If they have not understood their A levels let them get a job and do day release or night school, pay for it themselves or resit their A levels.

      Most degrees are largely worthless anyway. Outside a few professions people do not earn more due to a degree and certainly not sufficient to cover the loss or 3+ years work and the cost of the student loans and interest at 7% paid out of taxed income, They may earn more due to being brighter in the first place a confusion of caused and effect that universities dishonestly claim. Does the child with good A levels but no degree earn less than one with the same A levels and a degree outside a few protected professions – I rather doubt it.

      Still flogging expensive degree to overseas students does seem to be a good export business.

      1. anon
        August 21, 2022

        If the institutions were good enough, they should expand overseas to the target market. I wonder how many would apply then without a visa attached.

      2. Richard II
        August 21, 2022

        The idea was floated by non-academic VC Sir David Bell, a career civil servant.

        Utterly unrealistic.

        In any case, many universities are awash with money. Our local one is acting as more of a mega-property investment business than a place of higher learning.

      3. No Longer Anonymous
        August 21, 2022

        Unfortunately a Master’s degree is now necessary to start a decent career.

      4. a-tracy
        August 22, 2022

        Just how much does each university get per English child they education, it isn’t only the £9250 pa tuition fee from the loan the student takes out, is it! When tuition fees were first applied in 2018 by Blair they were £1000 pa which was said to be 25% of the total contribution per student that the government made to the institution. If the student contribution element was still 25% the university would be getting £37,000 and why would the course cost have gone up from £4000 to £37,000 it wouldn’t? £9250 is 38.5% of the foreign charge.

      5. Mark
        August 22, 2022

        I am not sure that the resulting technology transfer to China has been such a bargain.

  7. Gary
    August 21, 2022

    Public sector not working well? I know who I blame, the party that has been running this country for the last 12 years. Time to pack your bags, Johnson/ May /Truss, or whoever is the latest picked in desperation by the Conservatives to pretend this mess isn’t 100% their doing

    1. Peter2
      August 21, 2022

      I suppose you think the public sector worked really well under Labour with Blair and Brown Gary.
      The decline started decades ago.

      1. Pauline Baxter
        August 21, 2022

        Peter2. Indeed it did start decades ago.
        In the 1960’s my uncle, who had done useful, productive work in the Health Department, encouraged my mother to steer me towards being a Civil Servant.
        When I became one, I quickly discovered that, what little ‘work’ there was to do, would be better not done!

    2. Lifelogic
      August 21, 2022

      Agreed – but do you really want Starmer & Sturgeon in power? That is surely an horrific prospect.

      1. formula57
        August 21, 2022

        @ Lifelogic – you say that but would we really notice much difference, aside from the ultra-bonus of Scotland exiting the Union with the consequence we slash foreign aid by £15 billion a year?

        1. rose
          August 21, 2022

          That is what was said in 1997. The list of irreparable harm that ensued is too long for now.

  8. Bryan Harris
    August 21, 2022

    Doesn’t this all tie in with the national spirit — We don’t know who we are any more or what we stand for as a country.

    Morals are at an all time low.

    Why do people need to work hard or with passion – they need a reason, and it’s not just about having a home and family and foreign trips.

    It is so easily seen that as the ways and dogma of socialism take over our world, the more we die, the less passion we have for life, and we wonder ‘why should we bother’

    The change has to come from the top, from a newly inspired national leadership that can bring out what was once who we were, and encourage us to be even more.
    (I>This is about evolution – Not revolution.

    1. Shirley M
      August 21, 2022

      + many Bryan – we can’t even get basic healthcare these days, not if your over 70 anyway, and not in our area although some other areas seem to manage it. Who would have thought that allowing a million more people in, on top of covid, would result in NHS not coping and people not getting NHS care?

    2. Mickey Taking
      August 21, 2022

      a dose of both would be good.

    3. Gary
      August 21, 2022

      Bryan Harris – hitting the nail on the head – the national spirit is down – I agree we don’t know who we are anymore – with too many foreigners here – in fact too many people clogging up the roads and towns and then with inept politicians fighting amongst themselves and Europe and all with no vision for a future except about how to get elected the next time round and maybe have a go at the greasy pole. Greed and incompetence at the top destroying us because it is filtering down – and so it has been for years

      1. Bryan Harris
        August 21, 2022

        @Gary Well said

  9. Nigl
    August 21, 2022

    Read the diary of a Head Teacher. In 14 years he had 6 Secretaries of State, each wanting to do their own thing and (my words) of questionable ability so constant change, zero continuity.

    This would have been the same across all Departments so all public sector and private enterprise impacted similarly.

    We are at the mercy of politicians who need to interfere, put ideology over output, never admit their mistakes and are desperate to be loved so always compromise or give in when there is push back.

    Even when they are successful, Gove in education, the screeching from the blob meant Cameron, how weak was he, stood him down.

    Once again no solutions from our host because he knows what he, rightly, wants to do is unachievable.

    1. DOM
      August 21, 2022

      Absolutely correct. I do wish our kind host would be less abusing of our though in my case limited intelligence.

      The situation has now changed completely. The Marxists are now on the inside not on the outside. Even Gove praised Frankfurt School ideology with Johnson declaring in an interview in saw ‘nothing wrong with Woke;. Woke is a product of Marxist ideology

      John knows full well that the Left are now in full control and the descent into their world is only a matter of time

      1. Gannon
        August 21, 2022

        The Left are now in full control …. The Tories have been in power for TWELVE years

        1. rose
          August 21, 2022

          In office. That is not in power. The Blob is in power.

    2. Mark
      August 22, 2022

      in the case of education productivity has declined in accordance with Parkinson’s Law: the work expands to fill the time available. School leavers now have much the same level of attainment as those who previously left at 16, while first degrees cover the A level education of former generations.

  10. Denis Cooper
    August 21, 2022

    Off topic, last night the press review featured the front page of the Sunday Express with a headline like this:

    https://www.express.co.uk/news/politics/1658063/Brexit-trade-deal-latest-pacific-agreement

    “Brexit trade deal BOOM: UK facing £18 bn boost – ‘bills to go down'”

    and I thought

    “Here we go again, with the usual vast exaggerations of the economic value of a new trade deal.”

    And this morning I have actually found on file a previous front page from an Express newspaper:

    https://www.express.co.uk/news/politics/1377528/brexit-news-UK-EU-trade-deal-latest-boris-johnson-trade-deal-US-canada-australia-liz-truss

    “UK heading for post-Brexit BOOM after signing 62 new trade deals worth £900 billion”

    Just to concentrate on this latest projected cornucopia, the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership or CPTTP, the headline says £18 billion which would be less than 1% of UK GDP; but that is for a projected boost in exports to the CPTTP countries, the economic benefit of which would be offset to a greater or lesser extent by increased imports from those countries, and a long way down the article there is:

    “[It] has the potential to boost GDP by an initial £1.8billion a year”

    which would be less than 0.1% of UK GDP, although over the longer term it

    “could reach £20billion as CPTPP expands”.

    But then again in paragraph 2.3 on page 5 of this DTI policy paper from last April:

    https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/1027860/dit-cptpp-uk-accession-strategic-approach.pdf

    that £1.8 billion gain, less than 0.1% of UK GDP, is said to be the projected GDP increase “in the long run”.

    Plus there could be potential costs associated with membership to erode even that trivial benefit, not least as we are now seeing with our trade deal with the EU the complex and expensive paperwork needed for goods to qualify for exemption from tariffs:

    https://commonslibrary.parliament.uk/new-customs-rules-for-trade-with-the-eu/

    “Rules of origin can be onerous. In some cases, the rules are specific to particular products. Some businesses cannot or do not wish to claim zero tariff because of the complexity or cost of the paperwork. Research by the UK Trade Policy Observatory shows that during the first part of 2021, a substantial number of businesses did not claim zero tariffs when exporting to the EU.”

    1. hefner
      August 21, 2022

      Thanks for that, Denis. It is not really surprising given that out of 62 ‘new’ trade deals about 59 are simple continuation/roll over/cut and paste of what the UK had through the EU. Only three with Australia, New Zealand and Canada are really new ones. The EU seems to have got a better deal with Canada than the UK was able to get. The ones with Australia and New Zealand are better … but more likely for the Australians and the New Zealanders if reactions from UK hill farmers/cattle owners are to believed. The £900 bn advertised were not new money but essentially the level of exchanges pre-Brexit. As you point out the real benefit to the UK might be a few billions.
      Great job Liz!

      1. Pauline Baxter
        August 21, 2022

        hefner.
        One thing our farmers forgot to mention when they complained about Liz’s trade deal with Oz/NZ, is that those countries being in the southern hemisphere, their produce was ready when ours was not.
        Liz Truss did good work there.
        The person who seems to have done little or no useful work at all, is George Eustice (DEFRA).
        Or is it the civil servants that he is supposed to control?
        They have done nothing at all in the way of sensibly replacing all the EU rules, with guidance directed towards what suits OUR agriculture.

        1. hefner
          August 21, 2022

          Pauline, Good point about the South hemisphere countries for fruit and veg. Not so sure about meat.

          1. rose
            August 21, 2022

            You can be sure about spring lambs though.

          2. hefner
            August 22, 2022

            Traditionally we eat spring lamb around Easter time. Are you such a consumer of it for Harvest, Halloween or Guy Fawkes days?

  11. DOM
    August 21, 2022

    Your party bent to and embraced the Socialist State decades ago. It rejected principle, morality and truth and now runs alongside the likes of Michie, Lynch and Boustead. Many cannot see how far the Tories have capitulated to the power of the left that now control the entire State and its functions. I would say most decisions now taken by governments since 2010 are made after the nod from Labour and the unions

    I doubt the issue of productivity within a political organisations which is what the unionised public sector has become will EVER be addressed. Why would turkeys vote or Xmas?

    It is very simple. A Tory government since Thatcher have always abused the private, because they can and without damage to themselves, to appease the politicised public sector ie the State, because they have to or else there’s conflict.

    When will people understand that Labour, Tory and SNP will drag us all into bankruptcy, authoritarianism and into a place that protects their parties. Self-protection is their main function and to hell with the British people. without recourse to abusing the public debt function the political class would have imploded years ago

    1. No Longer Anonymous
      August 21, 2022

      “Without recourse to abusing the public debt function…” I liked that bit.

      Today’s battle is not against the unions. The coal mines of 2022 is government and the machinery of government itself. Far too big, far too obstructive, far too destructive, far too militant and far too costly.

      Yet they have the sheer effrontery to bang on about the wage/price inflation spiral among ordinary workers.

  12. Lifelogic
    August 21, 2022

    In recent year the government has enforced the vastly damaging lockdown, the idiotic net zero expensive energy insanity, the fairly ineffective and clearly dangerous vaccine/net harm regime & even for children, the vastly expensive & pointless HS2 & test and trace, debased the currency and vastly increased taxes to pay for this lunacy serially breaking manifesto commitments.

    All these are net negatives do they count these as productivity? Could they not produce something of positive value for a change?

    1. Lifelogic
      August 21, 2022

      Relax, Vlad — diversity targets will take down the RAF quicker than your MiGs
      Rod Liddle in the Sunday Times today.

  13. Nigl
    August 21, 2022

    Back in the day, breakfast meetings with the team or clients and often after work were an accepted part of what I did as a Senior Manager.

    Doing some work with a London Borough team that always struggled to get all participants attending I suggested an early meeting, croissants etc on me. They laughed. Their Borough was frankly in the s**t. No surprise with a zero give attitude.

    1. IanT
      August 21, 2022

      Try getting a decision out of a 10 person NHS Trust ‘committee’ or a timescale from the MoD in Whitehall. Endless ‘progress’ meetings that didn’t progress in any meaningful way. I don’t miss any of it.

  14. hefner
    August 21, 2022

    08/05/2022 ‘UK private sector productivity growth still in the doldrums’,
    28/01/2022 ‘Productivity growth continues to reinforce regional imbalance’,
    22/01/2021 ‘Why policymakers must focus on sectoral productivity dynamics’,
    all from bennettinstitute.cam.ac.uk

    Chart 1 in the last contribution: why has productivity stopped growing from 2010?
    Public sector productivity is certainly a problem. But is private sector productivity that great?

    1. Lifelogic
      August 21, 2022

      Private sector productivity is hit by very high and increasing taxes (which deters many investments as does Sunak’s moronic enthusiasm for windfall taxes), the insane net zero insanity and expensive energy, slow and restrictive planning, endless red tape and government interference in everything, daft employment laws, poor quality state monopoly education and health care, expensive housing and buildings, over complex taxation, endless compliance and health and often totally misguided safely demands… get the state out of the damn way for higher productivity and halve it in size.

      1. Lifelogic
        August 21, 2022

        Also damage by idiotic lock downs, dangerous and rather ineffective vaccines, benefit level close to wage level (so why bother many think) endless government waste, expensive energy by design & the net zero religion…

  15. Lester_Cynic
    August 21, 2022

    According to Guido Fawkes you’re supporting Truss

    The least worse of the two I suppose

    1. Alicia
      August 21, 2022

      Sunak and Truss are both dreadful and stuck in the box of sad mediocrity.

      Let’s hope they both lose and nobody votes at all!

      1. glen cullen
        August 21, 2022

        Every political election vote should include a ‘none of the above’ box

        1. Mark B
          August 22, 2022

          agreed

    2. Mike Stallard
      August 21, 2022

      Rishi Sunak went to Winchester, then PPE at Oxford, then Stanford, USA, then Goldman Sachs. He is married to a charming and very well heeled lady too. And he is openly a Hindu, who is on the wagon. I understand that he is charming, but finds it hard to mix. I have never met him.
      Liz Truss is a normal British woman, not too clever, not too rich, she comes from a Christian background, but knows that you shut up about that. She is easy to mix with and is one of us.
      Hence the fact that she will win.
      The problem is that she is a superb local MP but is totally out of her depth with Mr Lebedev. Rishi Sunak is a brilliant man who is happy with the treasury, with people of his own class and good at interviews. He is the right man for the job.
      Shame he isn’t going to get it.

      1. Lifelogic
        August 21, 2022

        Sunak would be a disaster at the ballot box and a gift to Labour. He is also responsible for serial manifesto ratting, the highest tax rates for 70+ years, the currency debasement, endless government waste, the idiotic, counter productive extended lockdown and economic insanities like test and trace, HS2, the idiotic windfall taxes, eat out to help out… His moronic & worthless offers of tax cuts just before the election after next and £10 charges for missed NHS appointments show he is not a vote winner or in touch with normal people.

        He also has fallen for another daft religion the net zero expensive energy one and “renewables” as they dishonestly call them.

        His wife was however very sensible to save millions by electing to be Non Dom given such a wasteful fool was at no 11. Foolish really to change her position but doubtless she has some other tax efficient plan and surely was not daft enough to back date it and pay the £millions back.

        1. Mark B
          August 22, 2022

          On that basis I would be tempted to either employ his wife or her father to run the country.

          Neither in my view could be any worse than that which we have, or have had.

          Thin gruel.

      2. Mickey Taking
        August 21, 2022

        so being normal, ie one of us is the problem, being born with silver spoon, and married into £billions gets you the job? One mixes well in constituency, the other entertains some in the estate!
        Time warp just happened, back 3 generations in a flash.

      3. miami.mode
        August 21, 2022

        Our host has expounded at length why Rishi Sunak should not be Chancellor.

      4. X-Tory
        August 21, 2022

        You say that Sunak “is happy with the Treasury”. Given that these cretins have caused all the problems we are now facing that in itself is sufficient reason for him NOT being “the right man for the job”!

      5. Pauline Baxter
        August 21, 2022

        Mike Stallard.
        I hope you were being sarcastic when you said Sunak was the right man for the job!
        The last thing this country needs is a P.M. who thinks the way the Treasury has been working of late, is the right way to run the economy.

      6. Philip P.
        August 21, 2022

        Do you mean Yevgeny, Lord Lebedev of Hampton, Mike, the British/Russian press oligarch? I’m not sure why the next PM would need to have any dealings with him, much less be ‘out of her depth’ with him. His newspapers (Evening Standard, Independent) are fiercely anti-Putin, so he’s not going to act as a go-between with Moscow.

        I’m rather more concerned about Liz Truss being ‘out of her depth’ with just about everything else.

        I hope Sunak, if he does not become PM., is able to accept a senior ministerial appointment.

    3. IanT
      August 21, 2022

      I thought Boris was great fun but frankly incapable of executing any kind of long term (or even medium term) policy, he simply reacted to whatever the next disaster was – partially resulting in this latest energy crisis. Loads of brief enthusiasm, seeming complete lack of strategic thought, planning ability and determined execution of those (missing) plans.

      Frankly, Liz Truss doesn’t seem anywhere as much fun but I will certainly forgive her that if she can formulate some sensible policies and execute them well.

      As for Sunak, do you really want a former Xxxx Headge Fund manager at the UKs helm because I certainly don’t. I’ve not been impressed with him as Chancellor and very much doubt that anyone (in the circles he swims) cares anything at all about the common man. He’ll be off to new fields of gold & glory before too long and I for one won’t miss him.

  16. Donna
    August 21, 2022

    “There are ways to raise quality and reduce costs at the same time which are much needed in some public service areas.”
    —————

    And nowhere is this more obvious than in our Governing Class. We are massively over-governed and, with a few exceptions the quality of those governing (Parliament and Whitehall) has never been lower.

    The “professionalisation” of politics has had a negative impact; we have far too many MPs who have extremely limited personal experience of life as experienced by “ordinary people” and who achieved nothing of any consequence before hitching a ride on the taxpayer-funded gravy train.

    And the House of Frauds is stuffed with donors, cronies, rejected politicians, an increasingly woke clergy and a few high-profile virtue-signallers ….. all enjoying membership of a taxpayer-subsidised Establishment Club and generous funding by taxpayers, whether or not they actually DO anything of any benefit to those taxpayers. On the evidence of the period 2016-2022, many of them (the majority?) actively work against the wishes of a majority of those taxpayers.

    The State and the Governing Class has grown like Topsy over the past 25 years of NuLabour and BluLabour. More “Lords;” devolved Parliaments; more Quangos; Police and Crime Commissioners …… the list of those on the taxpayer-funded gravy-train has blossomed (whilst the capability of the Public Sector has plummeted).

    It’s unaffordable … and that’s where productivity/efficiency savings should start.

    Neil Oliver’s monologue on GB News yesterday (available on catch up on YouTube) is a tour de force and well worth watching. As is the following interview with Israeli Scientists blowing the whistle on the adverse effects of the Pfizer jabs.

  17. Fedupsoutherner
    August 21, 2022

    Many of the civil servants and council workers could actually try turning up for work in the first place instead of taking it easy at home as one of my neighbours said. She was saying how much easier life is working from home. She can keep an eye on the kids, do a bit of housework and hang her washing out. I couldn’t help think, yeah, and I’m paying you for this.

    1. Shirley M
      August 21, 2022

      What a surprise (not). Meanwhile, the country goes to the dogs in every area of public service and we pay heavily for the privilege of not receiving a worthwhile service, but at least the public employees are happy (for now)!

    2. Berkshire Alan
      August 21, 2022

      Indeed

      Our local Council office like a morgue when I went there last week, it would seem they are either all working from home or are on holidays (appreciate it is school holiday period at the moment) but thought the year almost impossible to talk to someone with any knowledge of anything, usual excuse, they will get back to you if you leave a message, but it rarely happens !

      1. Barbara
        August 21, 2022

        Alan

        Last year, there were problems getting planning permission because the council planning officer was working from home.
        In France.

        1. hefner
          August 22, 2022

          With a good internet connection, whether in France, the Maldives, Zanzibar or Anglesey, what is the problem?

          1. Peter2
            August 23, 2022

            Problems with site visits perhaps?

    3. formula57
      August 21, 2022

      @ Fedupsoutherner “…keep an eye on the kids, do a bit of housework and hang her washing out. I couldn’t help think, yeah, and I’m paying you for this” – true, but you were paying for trips to the vending machine, chats in the corridor, running office sweepstakes, moaning sessions, endless exchange of gossip etc.. She might be more productive through now having a better frame of mind perhaps?

  18. Maylor
    August 21, 2022

    It is not just productivity but also the increasing number of management tiers that need review.

    It’s the old story – too many Chiefs and not enough Indians and many of the Chiefs were recruited direct from university with no knowledge of how the system operates and all with their own ‘innovative’ ideas .

    Result = chaos + £££s wasted.

    1. beresford
      August 21, 2022

      And of course one of the biggest examples of overmanning is at Westminster, with too many MPs and FAR too many Lords. Perhaps Mick Lynch could be tempted away from his current job with a brief to modernise Parliament and trim numbers to be more representative of productivity.

  19. Mike Stallard
    August 21, 2022

    Mindset: Are you prepared to lose your lucrative job? Then do not take a bold decision (See “Yes Minister”.) Just let things slide and then blame someone convenient. Mr Putin for gas? Covid for the NHS chaos? You will survive and then change jobs very easily if you just smile and do nothing. The revolving door… And it really helps if you are a woman (Post Office, Metropolitan Police, London Fire Service, CPS)

    1. Mickey Taking
      August 21, 2022

      oh …and a PhD means you will be a good manager of people.

      1. hefner
        August 22, 2022

        No, for that you need to have gone through one of the courses ‘offered’ by the Institute of Economic Affairs (iea.org.uk then look under ‘Students’ then ‘Internships’ and ‘Programmes’).

        So for your kids start with a prep school, then a public one, Oxbridge, then let them take one of the above ‘Future Thought Leaders’ course and they might become one ‘as intelligent as Mark Littlewood’.

        Who said only the WEF was forming the ‘elite’?

  20. Original Richard
    August 21, 2022

    Where is the incentive for the public sector to improve its productivity?

    It is largely run by a communist fifth column who are using diversity to destroy meritocracy and no employees are ever sacked for laziness, negligence, incompetence, malfeasance, corruption or misbehaviour

    In addition to the Civil Service we have a whole unseen/unaccountable public sector of quangos which according to the Taxpayers Alliance numbers 1,162 and their 700,000 employees are costing £64 billion (£2550/household) each year.

    In fact, when the total number of quangos is added to the other government subsidiaries such as local authorities and NHS trusts, the total number of organisations controlled by the UK Government rises to 2,063, costing the taxpayer £257 billion and employing over 5.1 million people.

    Our civil service and quangos have led the way in delivering Net Zero and as a result have caused most of the increases in our energy through the deliberate restriction of our own fossil fuel supplies and hence energy independence.

  21. DOM
    August 21, 2022

    Lockdown was Socialism in action. Well done Tory party and its MPs for doing the dirty work of the unions and Labour and WEF acolytes. We have so much to thank you for handing over unelected to power to despotic minded bigots

    1. cuibono
      August 21, 2022

      Spot on.
      And agree 100% with your other two posts.
      Are our leaders naive beyond belief?
      Are they compromised in some way?
      Read Johnson’s diary…do they just lie?
      Do they have no fear?
      Do they believe none of it will hit their own sunny uplands?

      4 murders in London recently over the course of 6 days including that of an old disabled man and at least 2 in broad daylight.
      So whence the cocky confidence from our leaders?

      Most puzzling!

  22. Berkshire Alan
    August 21, 2022

    Perhaps the reason productivity is down in Government, the Civil Service and Local Councils is due to complication.
    With ever more rules, regulation, laws, WKKE idealism everything is now more long winded, no matter if you have a computer that works and someone operating it sensibly It all takes longer because the amount of detail required to fill it all in has grow.
    Look at the Annual Income Tax form, look at the Census form, look at all of the Benefits forms.
    The Government requires more and more information, sometimes I am sure just for informations sake.
    Recently filled in a comment form for the Local Authority on my views on a proposed new road scheme. They wanted my name and address (Fair enough) but then wanted to know my sex, how I described my gender, what religion I practiced, was I black, white or a host of other descriptions, how old was I, what did I do for a living, how did I get around Town, did I use Car, walk, cycle, bus, taxi, and so it went on.
    The whole lot needs a complete re-set, but it will never happen because Governments and Local Authorities want more and more detail, no matter how pointless.

  23. Geoffrey Berg
    August 21, 2022

    ‘Productivity’ in the public sector is almost a lost cause. Many American Republicans think the best answer is just to ‘starve the public sector beast’ of money and I agree with them.
    However very poor performance in the public sector is being matched by Conservative M.P.s who seem to have acquired no real understanding of public opinion (part of their job). They seem to think throwing taxpayers’ money at the poorest to pay for their higher energy costs while leaving the rest of society (working people) to be thousands of pounds poorer will do them any political good. The reverse is true because the reality is most working people think of the unemployed as mostly idle spongers. Working people (that is most voters) will just be seething with anger that the idle unemployed get everything paid for while they get hammered by huge energy costs. The result for them will be electoral catastrophe now that Starmer has campaigned to save everybody from this and reduce inflation at the same time with a seemingly credible plan. He has realised there are practically no rich people who would willingly afford this – M.P.s (in the highest fifth percentile of pay) should realise they are not delighted to lose about 3% of their take home pay in higher fuel charges. Even the richest one half of one per cent (1 in 200) will probably lose almost 2% (after tax), let alone the cost of nearly 10% of net income to median earners.
    The only politically sensible response is to devote about 100 billion pounds over 2 years until the general election (which is about 4% of G.D.P.) which at worst could be added to the national debt but would better be a persuasive reason to reduce other public spending. This need not be instead of but can be as well as tax cuts.

  24. formula57
    August 21, 2022

    I have been a “customer” of HMRC for many years and whilst it used often to be slow, it was accurate. I have been astonished to find it is now inaccurate.

    My recent dealings with it though have found it responsive and even helpful.

  25. Iain Gill
    August 21, 2022

    John,

    I assume you will get a ministerial position with the new PM.

    Good luck with that.

    I hope you will find a way to get feedback from those on here, if you no longer get time for it.

    You could do worse than bring some of them in as spads.

    Cheers

    1. formula57
      August 21, 2022

      @ Iain Gill – really? 🙂

      Let me at this first opportunity allay any worries Sir John may have to assure him of my own availability for spadding.

      (I am of course extremely well qualified, both knowing what needs to be done, what the agenda is (being an attentive reader here) and how Whitehall works (possessing all the “Yes Minister” series (the full boxed set).)

  26. Christine
    August 21, 2022

    I’ve worked for the civil service and several large American corporations and believe me they are equally as bad.

    There are far too many unproductive emails issued. One email sent to a thousand staff that takes 5 minutes to read means a loss of 83 hours of productive work time. The biggest culprits for this are senior management who seem to believe they have to constantly issue edicts to the staff that offer no improvement to their working practices.

    The problem becomes much worse when you have part-time workers, as dealing with the email noise takes up a larger percentage of their working week.

    Make it an aim to reduce senior management and show the cost of sending out this proliferation of emails. It wasn’t necessary before technology introduced it, why is it necessary now?

    Bring back Time and Motion teams and re-introduce money-saving staff suggestion schemes. The workers on the front line are the ones who know where the time wasting is occurring.

    1. No Longer Anonymous
      August 21, 2022

      +1

      My industry now uses tablets and phones and has gone paperless. The amount of information we have to deal with now has shot through the roof. It is unproductive, pointless and the most important messages can be missed.

      It is definitely a case of it being “unnecessary then so why do it now ?”

      Just because you can do it doesn’t mean that you should.

  27. Mark Thomas
    August 21, 2022

    Sir John,
    I wonder to what extent productivity applies to the spending of the foreign aid budget.

  28. Pieter C
    August 21, 2022

    What gets very little recognition or publicity is that the projected deficit on public sector pensions currently stands at £2.4 trillion for both funded and unfunded schemes. Whilst increases in interest rates/bond yields may well reduce this, it is still an enormous transfer of wealth from the majority of tax payers, most of whom are no longer in receipt of generous final salary schemes such as those paid in the public sector. In the time I was working, up to the end of the 1990’s, contributions were 15.5% by the employer, and free for employees. The same pension scheme, with inflation increases limited to 50% of inflation, now costs the employer 41% and the employee 10% of salary.
    Striking public sector workers must be made to recognise the value of their pensions in any negotiations about pay rises and inflation.

  29. Christina
    August 21, 2022

    A couple of factors not mentioned so far albeit blindingly obvious:

    1. Guaranteed final salary pensions no longer enjoyed by the private sector may act as a disincentive for public sector employees to seek more productive work elsewhere
    2. Union power hampers any progress towards greater productivity

    1. Mickey Taking
      August 22, 2022

      Worker support of union demands is usually puzzling. Union demands in a nutshell are to get workers to have to do less hours, get paid more and get better severance when laid off. It never seems to be understood that the way to reach those demands require productivity gains, more efficiency, less wastage, better customer satisfaction, in short to develop pride in the business.
      Most union ‘gun at the head’ demands result in shrinkage of the business and ultimately job losses.
      Wake up and smell the coffee doesn’t apply, the union wants to see wider economic damage – not profitability.

  30. acorn
    August 21, 2022

    BTW. Further to mine and Mark’s comments yesterday, you can track the wholesale gas price at
    https://tradingeconomics.com/commodities. Divide the “UK Gas” price (pence/therm) by 2.93 and multiply by the exchange rate (1.18 €/£) to compare with the Dutch bidding zone “TTF Gas” price in €/MWh.

    Also for power trading in the Nord Pool market for instance. https://www.nordpoolgroup.com/en/Market-data1/GB/Auction-prices/UK/Hourly/?view=table
    Select GBP/MWh . You can compare prices at the UK bidding zone (BZ) and the Norway 2 bidding zone for the NSL interconnector in the Nord Pool market.

  31. oldwulf
    August 21, 2022

    The blame for the public sector productivity shortfall rests with the politicians. They continually seek to bribe the electorate by telling us how much of our money they are making available to XYZ without providing the detail as to how the money is to be spent in order to achieve the required outcome.

  32. XY
    August 21, 2022

    It would be useful to identify which measures of productivity are being used – and define them for the audience.

    I see macroeconomic definitions used by people who go on to criticise individual or groups of workers. That’s totally inappropriate. Those are intended to measure the drag effect of tax and regulation on the economy, not the effort of the work force.

    The same is true of work unit level measures, such as a factory. Looking at the value of inputs versus the value of outputs doesn’t tell us about the effort of the workers, it tells us the drag effect of excessive management tiers and salaries (managers don’t produce any widgets), inefficient processes, outdated machinery and even excessive regulation applied to manufacturing processes.

    Yes, it can also be workers not doing enough, but that’s only one of many factors. So it would be useful to expand these discussions to address these issues (and to challenge the mnedia and even the many MPs who simply don’t understand economics).

  33. forthurst
    August 21, 2022

    As a country we have a naive view that people with Arts degrees are qualified to do anything more than their degrees trained them for. These people are also very over represented in the workforce because of the vast numbers churned out by the universities which like offering these degree courses because they are comparatively cheap to provide as opposed to science and medicine where the universities fill their courses with full fee paying aliens. What do these people do when taking on administrative roles in the civil service? Well, they do what they were trained to do so they write memos and reports (essays and theses) and engage in meetings (seminars and tutorials).

    The way to improve productivity in the NHS is to have a clear out of the hierarchies and hospital administrators who by their nature do not increase productivity but in fact impede it. Apart from capacity planning their is no need for activity above the district health area based on a main hospital, doctors and nurses. The system of administrators hiring nurses by the shift through agencies who then have no knowledge of the patients under their care is dangerous and highly inefficient. Pay rates need to be set to ensure retention of qualified staff.

    The expansion of higher education with universities substantially dependent on fees determined by the state having been converted from essential service providers for British students to businesses with overpaid Vice-Chancellors rewarded for the number of students recruited even if a significant proportion have no academic ability and undertake courses of no practical value has been a disaster and needs to be reversed. How any sane person could imagine that churning out vast numbers of graduates saddled with debt having wasted three years learning nothing of use to them was to anyone’s benefit is a mystery but then the workings of Bliar’s brain will probably always be that but that does not absolve the Tories from not addressing the issue.

    1. No Longer Anonymous
      August 21, 2022

      The other issue, of course, is those useful STEM degree courses are sold to foreign spies who steal our research.

      1. Mickey Taking
        August 22, 2022

        The basic point is ‘why educate your competitors?’.

        1. hefner
          August 22, 2022

          Indeed, but what if foreign students come with a better grasp of, say, STEM subjects at the end of secondary schooling and furthermore bring about three times as much money to the university. Would you want your taxes increased to benefit British students?
          As an ‘employer’ is the university teacher/assistant interviewing/checking the files of candidates for the best potential students wrong in choosing a foreign student?

          As for the foreign ‘spies’ stealing ‘our’ research, what if those foreign graduate students are in fact those directly working on developing new techniques, new processes, new methods, new algorithms, new research under the often quite remote supervision of the professor leading a BBSRC, EPSRC, MRC, NERC or STFC project?

          1. forthurst
            August 23, 2022

            Completely irrelevant. The issue relates to undergraduate recruitment. As to the taxpayer involvement, why not, the government wastes far more money on utterly daft projects demonstrating their abysmal understanding of science. STEM leads to increased productivity;
            why not keep it here?

          2. hefner
            August 30, 2022

            Obviously completely irrelevant … because you have not addressed my points.
            Universities having been transformed into businesses in the 1980s have to (try to) balance their budgets. They are more likely to be successful doing it with an increasing proportion of foreign students.
            And undergraduate students rarely do anything related to research so the risk of them stealing our research is minimal.
            Finally ‘STEM leads to increased productivity’: it is unfortunately not that simple. People with a good STEM formation might be able to go into start-ups and devise ‘increasing productivity’ products and techniques … or they might end up as quants in the City.

  34. KB
    August 21, 2022

    Have you not considered that productivity is low BECAUSE OF new IT systems rather than in spite of them?
    Usually the software is unintuitive and not flexible enough. It “goes down” with depressing regularity.
    Often you will be fighting against the IT system rather than working with it. I bet none of it has ever saved any time overall.

    1. ukretired123
      August 21, 2022

      @kb DT today states Tony Blair was made aware of the flawed Post office Horizon IT project back in 1988 “the system was initially bought for the Department of Social Security (DSS) for use in the payment of benefits.
      Concerns over failures in testing led to the DSS rollout being halted. Horizon was then passed on to the Post Office” (instead of being scrapped).
      Even more incredible:-
      “Despite having the option to renegotiate or cancel the government’s contract to buy Horizon, Mr Blair opted to continue with the project and even suggested giving its makers a bonus”. Incredible incompetence by a PM, so what chance for sanity prevailing in government IT systems. Gawd ‘eavens.

      1. ukretired123
        August 22, 2022

        Blair and Brown were anti – SMEs with infamous IR35.

  35. James Freeman
    August 21, 2022

    – Why does the NHS need Caldicott Principles and GDPR?

    – Why do government projects need 15 business cases to get approved. Then if the case is poor like HS2, they get approved anyway?

    – Why does it take two months to recruit cilvil servants?

    Then of course there is the bureaucracy around IR35. It is good to see Liz Truss will ask for a review, but the terms of reference are key. Will businesses and the self employed who are suffering get a say? If she asks the treasury to make their own homework, they will conclude everything is fine. They see the cost of everything and the value of nothing.

  36. Alfred T Mahan
    August 21, 2022

    Recruitment in social care is tough enough, but at the moment DBS background checks are taking two to three months to come through. You can’t employ someone without it, and by the time you get it more often than not the applicant has found another job. So the whole system isn’t fit for purpose and greatly reduces productivity.

    I would be very interested to know what the statistics are for cases of abuse before the system was introduced vis-a-vis now. I have a strong suspicion they’ll be very similar. In other words, the DBS system sounds essential but is in fact a pointless waste of time and money.

  37. Pauline Baxter
    August 21, 2022

    Probably other comments today have said it all already.
    Basically we have far to large a ‘public sector’. So shrink it.

  38. X-Tory
    August 21, 2022

    Sir John, today you Tweet about the energy price crisis and say “Of course Liz will offer more help for people and businesses with the cost of energy.” Surely the best solution to high prices is not a complicated and costly system of support for people facing high bills but to prevent the bills being high in the first place?! I learnt today that suppliers of renewable energy (wind / solar) have increased their prices to the market rate set by gas and oil prices, despite the fact that their own costs have not increased at all. This is MADNESS! What the bl**dy hell has the gas price got to do with the wind price?

    This level of profiteering (by the companies) and stupidity (by the government, that lets them get away with it) is infuriating to the nth degree. Renewable energy companies and fossil-fuel energy companies are entirely separate businesses, with separate costs, and should sell their energy at separate prices, based on their genuine costs. This must be obvious even to the stupidest government minister! The first thing Liz Truss should do is introduce a short Bill changing the contracts and forcing renewable energy companies to sell their electricity at cost + a fixed profit margin (say 7%). This would sail through both the Commons and the Lords (Labour would not oppose it) and could be law in a few weeks. This would cost the government NOTHING and would hugely cut energy bills. It is obviously right. But will she have the common sense to do it or is she just too stupid? We shall soon find out!

  39. Barbara
    August 21, 2022

    How do you measure public sector productivity, when they do not produce anything?

  40. Iain Gill
    August 21, 2022

    re “computer programmes” its “computer programs” unless you meant multiple projects synchronised under an overarching programme, which you dont

    please dont spell it that way

    thanks

  41. ukretired123
    August 21, 2022

    When you choose to buy something in the modern world you expect it to be of “merchantable quality” under English law. Competing offers for durable goods or services offer guarantees for several years against poor or substandard substandard with recourse to the law.
    We have a blind spot in public service delivery by comparison due to state monopolies, supposedly beneficial for economies of scale and no duplication of costs. Fine as long as it delivered.
    Unfortunately we have zero chance of getting results and accountability today as the Public Sector regard it as their own fiefdom benefiting their members defying any reform by crying wolf aka “Privatisation, racist etc” to resist, resist,resist. They only change if more taxpayers money is poured out, sadly and after decades cumulative productivity heads south. They have been spoilt, feather bedded for far too long and need drastic measures to reflect the taxpayers harsh economic experience.

  42. anon
    August 21, 2022

    Its clear though that renewables are profitable and effectively reduce gas demand when available. The onus should be quick expansion of permissions production and storage with better contracting. My question is why is the rollout of renewables so slow. It feels expansion and working capacity is being constrained to milk at the highest yields. It seems just like land , housing and volume builders.

    1. Mark
      August 22, 2022

      The problem is that you need gas to be able to handle rapid changes in renewables output and to provide full backup for when renewables fail. Renewables have not replaced gas. They have helped kick coal and nuclear off the system which are less able to adjust to intermittent renewables, so we lose two alternatives to gas that could be used to switch to for much of the generation when gas is expensive. So we end up with duplicated systems, and much less efficient gas operation because it is constantly adapting to renewables output.

      1. anon
        August 22, 2022

        Agree.
        Coal and nuclear seemed to be safety related or policy related. I cant see how a nuclear plant with its sunk costs would be pushed off the grid, unless its operating costs ballooned. Add more closed loop hydro and hey presto close fast short term response.

        Just free the market and reduce or eliminate the subsidies. I like the idea of matching renewable output with a contracts guaranteeing a minimum output so they would pay for the backup or provide it internally.

        Ensure a permissive grant environment for offshore and storage particularly UK based business.

        Backup is obviously required. Its a feature not a bug.

        Where is the backup and stockpiles for winter? (Coal or Oil, non EDF nuclear ) and why is it not being used to mitigate gas demand? As in a strategic reserve capacity.

        This will require some extra assets or duplication. Lots of companies have duplicate assets. Yes it adds extra costs, but its less than not having the asset duplication in the short run. I have no problem burning coal or gas if its needed and it is.

        Weather forecasts are better at predicting these surges so they may be rapid but are predictable.

        Failing that buy gas from Russia someone is. Not pleasant whilst an invasion is in play. Make it a condition of serious peace talks and mutual security guarantees.

Comments are closed.