Posted tagged ‘cost’

Being Mindful

July 19, 2011

It's not always easySome of our own posts and our guest posts are a little lighter hearted in nature, dealing with ridiculous dress codes, badly judged e-mails or ways you can identify when you’ve been in local government too long.  We love sharing them too, so if you’ve got something you want to say then e-mail it to us at welovelocalgovernent@gmail.com

However, we are not shy of addressing some more serious issues affecting the lives of local government officers, and today’s guest post does just that.  We hope you read it and understand a little more about the issues it discusses by the end than you might have at the beginning.

Cost.  That has become a bit of a dirty word in the office these days: how much money something costs, how much time it costs, how much energy it costs to get things done.

These costs are generally speaking organisational, and are usually relatively straightforward to quantify.  However, a major area of cost which never finds its way onto any balance sheets is the cost to people, and even when certain costs are accounted for there is one glaring omission – the cost to ones mental health.

Mental health is something so often misunderstood, even by those who mean well.  Some feel they are understanding people, who will do all they can to support someone through their mental health battles with the idea that it can be beaten and overcome, put in the past and moved on from.

Others take the opposite tack, trying to treat them as they would anyone else and not making a big issue out of it in the hope that distraction with other ‘more important and urgent’ issues will put mental health firmly in its place at the bottom of any priority list.

For those of us in local government these are incredibly stressful and difficult times.  Even the most stoic and mentally healthy person can find themselves wobbling at the moment; tempers fraying, long silences growing, work and relationships suffering as the constant and increasing pressures and responsibilities are placed upon them.

For those of us who were fighting mental health problems even during the ‘good old days’ of local government, things can be a fair bit harder. (more…)

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Armchair Auditors

October 11, 2010

A cut down icon for a cut down era...

The Conservative Government are keen that Local Authorities start putting financial information from their budgets online. One London Borough has already obliged (well before the January 2011 deadline) and placed the details of over 2000 transactions over the value of £500 from the month of August onto their website.

As an endlessly curious sort I had a quick look and have copied across three rows of the accounts below.

40 11/08/2010 HAYS EXECUTIVE 426274.1 Agency Hays Contract A/c Payments X
41 26/08/2010 HAYS EXECUTIVE 411774.8 Agency Hays Contract A/c Payments X
42 03/08/2010 HAYS EXECUTIVE 402810.47 Agency Hays Contract A/c Payments X

The three rows I chose were all to do with Hays Executive which I am fairly sure is a recruitment company. What drew my eye was the fact that three times over the month the authority in question were spending over £400,000 with the recruitment company; presumably, given the consistency of the payment, for the services of temporary and bank staff.

(more…)

Pay the going rate or see the talent going

September 21, 2010

My Grandad was a man of few words, but he did once tell me a story which has stuck with me, and which came to mind when I was watching last night’s Panorama piece on public sector pay.  If you’ll bear with me I’ll relay that story here and hopefully it’ll help illustrate a point.

He had a car back in the day when people could still repair them without the aid of a degree in computer programming, but when it broke down once he was flummoxed.  In the end he called out a repair man, who duly turned up with toolbox in hand and took a look under the bonnet.  Without a word he reached into his toolbox, pulled out a screwdriver and tightened a screw – within seconds the engine roared into life.

He then handed my Grandad the bill – £30 (and that was in the day when £30 was a lot of money).  Incensed, good old Grandad demanded to know why on earth he should pay that amount of money when all he’d seen was a single screw turned.  The answer came back that he was only being charged £1 to have the screw turned; he was being charged £29 for the mechanic knowing which screw to turn.

What on earth has this to do with public spending and Panorama I can almost hear you ask?

(more…)

The king is dead, long live the king

September 15, 2010

As we have discussed before, the government recently announced that the mighty Audit Commission would be no more.  It would cease to be, become bereft of life; it would be an ex-commission.

Or would it?

There are currently murmurs that Mr Pickles has been talking with the soon-to-disappear organisation to urge them to privatise themselves.  Apparently he would like them to set up as a business and then bid in an open market to secure the contracts that they once fulfilled. (more…)

Hold on lads, I’ve got an idea

August 26, 2010

The classic phrase is something along the lines of ‘if you put a million monkeys in front of a million typewriters for an infinite amount of time, eventually one will reproduce the complete works of Shakespeare’.  Well, if apparently if you ask 65m people to come up with ideas for cutting the national defecit and saving money you’ll get a seemingly endless numbers of suggestions (whittled down to about 45,000 so far), both weird and wonderful.

In case you’ve missed it, the government have been asking people online to come up with any and all ideas for ways to cut costs, and boy have the people responded.  Interestingly, apparently two-thirds of suggestions have come from public sector staff (although take with a pinch of salt any piece of information presented with the word ‘apparently’ as a precursor).

There are literally tens of thousands of suggestions on the site, many of which are repeats, racist, xenophobic or just plain stupid.  However, there are some real gems in there, with some so basic and easy to do it really made me scratch my head and try to justify why they have yet to be done. (more…)