Thursday, January 15, 2009

Harsh truth about life working for the Govt

Many civil servants 'deserve axe'

"Frankly the job could be done with half as many, it could be more productive, more efficient, it could deliver a lot more value for money for the taxpayer. "I was amazed, quite frankly, at how many people deserved the sack and yet that was the one threat that they never ever worked under, because it doesn't exist."

Posted by hubbers @ 12:53 PM (2287 views)
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17 thoughts on “Harsh truth about life working for the Govt

  • How many Trade Ministers deserve the sack? How many Gordon Brown’s and Camerons do we need? How many Lords and Peers are leeches on our ‘Hard Working Families’?

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  • mark wadsworth says:

    I’m pretty Lukwarm about DJ on the whole, but this is good stuff indeed.

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  • The Capitalist says:

    “Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion”

    So Parkinson’s Law reveals the nature of work, especially paperwork. He discoverd that the Royal Navy ended up with more personnel in London than actually serving on the fleet. Compulsory reading for all who manage people.

    He also proved that driving on the left is a correct natural instinct.

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  • I can certainly believe there are far too many Civil Servants not doing enough with bullet proof gold plated pensions etc

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  • Can i propose that many local authorities and local council staff deserve the axe too

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  • @str 2007 – “Civil Servants with bullet proof gold plated pensions” – I’d be very worried if I had 20 years pensionable service in the civil service or NHS pension scheme with say 20 years to retirement. Think Madoff and Ponzi schemes and then relate it to how these schemes work – if you need me to expand upon this I will.

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  • you could say the same about most large private organisations. especially but not exclusively those related to the world of finance.

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  • Good to see the daily dose of slagging off the civil service, councils, etc etc. Digby Jones, a model for “man with double chin” and button-popping gut, “private company good: public service bad”, seems to spend much of his time rubbishing anything which is not private enterprise, and collecting his high salary. Of course he has no need of a “gold-plated pension” because he no doubt has a bursting pension fund, like so many big businessmen.

    He quotes no evidence for his assertion that the civil service is overstaffed, just his amazement. The notion that the public sector is inefficient and generally hopeless has been around for donkeys years; it is received wisdom and rarely questioned, but I have yet to see any evidence apart from the odd anecdote. At least the poor old modestly paid, much criticised public servants have not brought the world economy down. If you want to spit bile at the unfairness of it all, spit at the bankers. Now there is a genuine iniquity.

    Here is my anecdote. I rang HMRC this morning, twice, got through quickly and had my questions answered quickly and efficiently both times. No complaints there. Most of the banks I’ve rang recently have kept me in a queue for 5 or 10 minutes or even longer in one case (expensive if you ring those 0845 numbers), then take ages dealing with your questions/problems. Ergo public sector good, private sector bad.

    Nice spending unproductive time with you.

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  • “Bullet proof gold plated pensions” (despite being the usual hysterical, green-eyed exaggeration) is a compensation for crap pay for the average Civil Servant.

    Average wage in the UK: around 27,000 pa
    Average Civil Service wage: around 17,000 pa

    I used to be a Civil Servant. I had no problem with moves to reduce my pension benefits, so long as I got an increase in pay so I could make up for it myself privately. When I left in 2002 I got a similar job in the private sector with fewer hours, less stress and a reasonable pension, but a 25% increase in basic pay.

    Incidentally, Jones is also on record as insisting that more Civil Service jobs should be done by the private sector under that highly successful and value-driven sceme called PFI. Sack half the CS and your tax bill will go up to pay Digby’s friends in Amey et al……..and then you’ll all moan again.

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  • First Class Honours degree in Electrical / Electronic Engineering. 20 years experience as a nuclear engineer. Chartered Engineer. Fairly senior grade in the Civil Service. Salary £25k. Bargain for the UK taxpayer. This bloke knows nothing of the civil service.

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  • Q: How many Civil Servants does it take to screw in a light bulb?

    A: Two. One to assure everyone that everything possible is being done while the other screws the bulb into the water faucet.
    A: 45. One to change the bulb, and 44 to do the paperwork.
    A: 2. One to screw it in and one to screw it up.
    A: Four. One to screw it in and three to write the environmental-impact statement.

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  • Public services should be just that – providing the services that are essential to all. The private sector is there to provide non-essential or optional goods. As such, there is a clear distinction in the skills required and the service to be provided. They are not directly comparable. In terms of efficiency, evidence (and common sense) suggests that neither is inherently more efficient, unless you subscribe to the sociopathic and Thatcherite/New Labour view that people have no interest in public service and are self-interested.
    If we want to look at society overall, the public sector contains a number of jobs that are of little direct benefit to the public.
    The private sector takes resources that could be used for the essentials of future generations to produce a lot of rubbish that fulfills needs created by their advertising and marketing departments.
    Neither are efficient.

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  • Jayk:

    I’d forgotten about PFI (must be some deep psychological damage). PFI is probably all one needs say to the critics of the public sector. The evidence suggests that it has proved the second best means for transferring cash into the pockets of the few – second to securitisation.

    Q: How many private sector workers does it take to change a light bulb?
    A: Indeterminate. The job is still out to tender.

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  • Digby is an unimpressive character, to say the least. Always the first to bleat about interest rates being lowered, yet at the same time trying to be a free-market businessman.

    Digby and his ilk are at the heart of the problem wanting both: private profits and low tax combined with ‘inflation’ (low rates) and losses that are socialised.

    It’s always fashionable to private sector types to waltz in to a new envirmonent in the public sector and say how savage the private sector is in comparison.

    I agree with the comments RE low wages and some good service.

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  • Letthemfall – Good to see you comment on this. I think you get sh1t people & great people in both (we have discussed before that the good people in the Public Sector are often handcuffed by the system under which they operate – although the discussion didnt extend to assign responsibility for that and what [if anything] should be done about it) . On that issue it may be an idea to get in some private people to see if the system can be improved OR sort this out from within.

    I also think the potential for getting rid of those crap people is much more difficult or more accurately there is no real incentive to do so (with exceptions eg baby p) in the public sector. If push comes to shove the private companies do go belly up (as we have seen) so there is no sanctuary for any staff (good or bad). It dont quite work that way in the public sector – where there does seem to be a significant compensation culture in my experience . (it may be thats true in society but the manifestation i have seen first hand in the public sector did astound me… everyone was either being bullied or had had some time off for stress – not quite my definition of stress but still).

    Anecdotal. My grandparents (a few years back) had a flood in their council flat caused by the council turning off the water and not telling anyone they would do it. So the people upstairs turned their water on and left it on with the plug in the sink and then the council turned the water back on while the people were out. In any case although i told my grandparents they should claim against the insurers of the people in the flat above (their own insurance ran out a few weeks before and they overlooked the renewal – they were quite old). My nan said nope its the councils fault so we proceeded against them – i issued a summons on their behalf.

    This was for a £800 claim. First of all they ignored it – so we won by default and obviously i paid a bailiffs charge and sen them in (would love to have been a fly on the wall for that). Then they appealed and they finally turned up. A barrister, a solicitor and the caretaker. Thats the point i am making – in the private sector there would probably have been an out of court deal (negotiated) with subrogation. But…..

    I must say though that paying council tax is very efficient – although nowadays you can easily pay it on a credit card… Go figure!!

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  • Hi techieman –
    Yes, I’ve seen similar ghastly examples in the public sector (and private as I’ve already said) and the lumbering behaviour you describe. Procedures can slow things down, though sometimes they can be beneficial – good practice, etc. But I think some public areas have made what they call productivity gains, in that they do more work for the same money. It probably is true to say that it is harder to get sacked in the public sector, but it is possible and I’ve seen it happen, and not necessarily to people who deserve it. This of course might have benefits too: fear of getting the sack does very little for one’s enthusiasm and productivity.

    I imagine public and private sectors could show each other examples of good practice to mutual benefit. I suppose good management is the thing, but I find good management is fairly rare. Still, I have found that services I use seem to run a lot better than they did years ago – doctors, hospitals, councils – so perhaps things really are getting better.

    Anyway, good to see so many views other than the YC one.

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  • Mister Jordan Dumansing says:

    I have worked in the public and the private sector, and as techieman so rightly says, they both have their fair share of useless people. It irritates me though when people criticise the public sector, forgetting that half the contracts carried out for the public sector are by private firms. Companies like Capita… Frankly I think we would all benefit from 100% fewer Sir Digby-Joneses in the country. He was at the forefront of encouraging zero regulation and pandering to banks and big business by the government, and look where that got us.
    The problem with the public sector is that due to all the red tape and paranoia about being criticised, there is little scope for pragmatic, flexible and quick decisions. Every problem gets debated back and forth for ages until some of the earlier solutions are no longer possible. But it is hard in the public sector because it is not as simple as ‘make a profit’, it involves providing services and helping those who need it… some inherently unprofitable aims, with results that are hard to measure.

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