Posted tagged ‘bob neill’

Non jobs – What exactly are they?

April 5, 2011

Bob Neill - Non job basher in chief

Yesterday, a guest poster described in quite some detail what it was like to be the occupant of what Eric Pickles would describe as a ‘non-job’. It was a moving piece and one which I felt deserved some further research.

Although Mr Pickles and his colleagues have made relatively little effort to explain precisely what a non-job actually is (we do know that they’re not keen on ‘twitter tsars’) there have been rumblings in newspapers and on the internet.

Figures utilised by Bob Neill during a recent attack suggest that of the 2,907,000 people employed by local authorities in Britain 741,702 of them are not in traditional “front- line” jobs such as (according to the Telegraph) “those in education, social services, recreation, libraries, planning, environmental health, culture, heritage or trading standards.”

This is a lot of non-jobs. But maybe not that many; 741,702 staff is 25% of the total number. Out of this 25% we need to find all of the back office functions that are crucial to the running of any organisation, even a council. Within this we’re talking about legal, HR, finance, payroll, policy, research, communications (but only a small team?!) etc; these jobs could be described as the classic back office function.

Customer services, council tax collection and benefit calculation are probably easy to add to this list but I was finding it hard to believe that these jobs made up 25% of any council or that anyone in Government would really be upset by these staff being employed by our local councils.

So what is left? With my mind unable to get a better grip of where the rest of these ‘non-jobs’ came from I took a deep breath and typed ‘local government non job’ into Google.


The Department for Criticising Local Government

February 25, 2011

Because Grant Shapps and Eric Pickles already have their pictures on our site

The Department for Criticising Local Government (for that is what the DCLG has become) have developed their operating model over the past eight months and I think we are now in a position to identify the different roles the Ministers play.

It goes something like this:

  • Eric Pickles makes the generalised attack on Local Government. This will be done in a forum where there can be no real come back (set piece TV or radio interview, newspaper etc) and in the context of another Government announcement. In effect the attack will be an aside used to partially justify the Government’s position; be it the need for cuts, localism, or local government pay caps etc.
  • Grant Shapps will be rolled out to argue with the Local Government representatives over the details of the criticism. He will usually choose two or three talking points and defend them all day from Radio 4 in the morning to Newsnight before bed. He’s very good and usually wipes the floor with his opponent.
  • Bob Neill will act as the voice of outraged Britain picking on a small example, usually taken out of context, that proves that local government is wasteful, crooked or otherwise disagreeable. His speciality is local papers and responses to newspaper stories. He particularly loves ‘non-jobs’, expensive buildings, high pay and bins but will turn his hand to anything the DCLG spin team choose to plant with their favourite papers.

Which got me thinking; what will be the story next week and who will deliver it? Here are some thoughts:

  • Local Government is closing too many swimming pools denying Britain a chance of winning gold at the 2012 Olympics (Eric Pickles)
  • XXX Borough council is closing its pool despite the presence of two senior managers in the leisure department earning over £60,000. It also refuses to share the management of the pool with neighbouring authorities (Grant Shapps).
  • The pool  was once used to host a ‘big fat gypsy wedding’ and the authority spent £5,000 making the environment appropriate as part of their diversity strategy. (Bob Neill)


  • Local Government is not delivering on its commitment to clean graffiti off public buildings at a sufficient rate (Eric Pickles)
  • Evidence from the Local Government Association themselves shows that the proportion of the council budget invested in graffiti cleaning has fallen in each of the past three years as councils have stopped focusing on what residents really want. (Grant Shapps)
  • XXX council has a policy of actively encouraging graffiti; protecting the rights of criminals above the rights of normal residents and refusing to even clean the area’s residents truly care about. (Bob Neill)

Any more suggestions for what the DCLG might come up with next week?

Do buildings (and toilets) matter?

January 17, 2011

Is this too extravagant for Bob Neill?

This post could be full of spluttering outrage as it is a post about council accommodation and the battering it has taken in the press over the past month. But I’ll try to be more restrained.

For those who weren’t watching our good friends at the DCLG have decided that being the Department FOR Communities and Local Government actually means working very hard to discredit local authorities. There are many ways to do this but the method of choice at the moment is the planted news story with handy Ministerial quote provided.

The stories in question are all about council accommodation, what you or I might describe as the ‘1960s office block I work in’ is described by Bob Neill (DCLG minister of choice for getting upset about buildings) as part of the:

age of vanity makeovers

The particular story that this quote comes from relates to the amount of money councils have spent on refurbishing their council buildings. Bob Neill didn’t do his research and discover that the chief offender (Richmond) were moving out of a rented accommodation that cost £700,000 per year and updating their accommodation had allowed them to do so.