Posted tagged ‘fairness’

A question of standards

January 25, 2012

Guest post alert, and this pleases us.  As regular readers will know, WLLG Towers is home to more than one brain, but even between us all we find a fair few corners of the local government world about which we know pitifully small amounts.  If you happen to have some thoughts to share about any such corner then please send them in to us at welovelocalgovernment@gmail.com, as did today’s fantastic guest blogger DSO.  Enjoy!

In those heady days after the last general election, the coalition government sat down and hammered out a document, The Coalition: our programme for government, subtitled “Freedom Fairness Responsibility”. Included in the proposals for local government was a sentence which met with cheers from many local councillors: “We will abolish the Standards Board regime.”

Now, the Standards Board regime might have had a lot of reasons to be disliked, but it would never have been established if there hadn’t been a need for some oversight of ethical standards in the conduct of local councillors. The vast majority had no trouble sticking to the Code of conduct although they might have resented the necessity of legislating requirements to treat people with respect, not bullying and not to abuse their position for personal gain.

The real problems came from those determined to breach it on principle and from the complicated framework for dealing with complaints: investigations could drag on for months, there was secrecy concerning what information was seen and by whom, and no one was ever satisfied with the outcome of a Standards Committee hearing. Some of these criticisms were addressed when the regime was overhauled in 2008, transferring most of the work to local councils to speed up the process and bring local knowledge into play, but at the same time increasing costs for the local council. Everything had to be filtered through a first-stage committee meeting which could consider only evidence from the complainant and, based on this one-sided view, had to decide what to do next: investigate or drop it. An authority in the southwest received more than 800 complaints from one resident, and had to meet to decide what to do with each of them as the legislation didn’t allow the Monitoring Officer any discretion to dismiss clearly vexatious complaints. (more…)

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Job Evaluation

June 22, 2011

Jokes about Reindeers are not as funny in June

It’s a guest post day on WLLG. Today’s poster tackles an area of local government that few dare to tread but is becoming increasingly important; the job evaluation process. If you have a post you’d like to add to the blog please drop us a line at welovelocalgovernment@gmail.com but not before you’ve read this excellent post:

It is a truth universally acknowledged that equal pay is a good thing. But pay cuts in the name of equal pay aren’t readily accepted.

Enter the quandary of Job Evaluation.

The 2004 Local Government pay agreement obliged all councils to carry out JE. Roles are assessed and graded on factors including knowledge, mental skills, physical/mental/emotional demands and working conditions.

Some roles stay on existing spinal column points; some increase and some – inevitably –go down. Same is fine, up welcome, but a reduction in scale points, particularly for the low-paid and those at the top of their scale, can cause serious upset.

The mantra of JE is that roles are evaluated, not people. This is a hard fact for those potentially facing a drop in pay, with related effects on salary progression and pensions. While pay protection is usually offered, ranging from months to years, an adverse JE outcome can be a serious blow to individuals’ finances and wellbeing.

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Doing things the ‘easy’ way

October 5, 2010

It's not easy being George...

A guest post from one of our private sector friends today… Enjoy

Cuts season is upon us and much like a high street hooker showing a bit of leg George Osborne is warming us up for the upcoming massacre of public services by flashing us a small hint of the good stuff that is to come.

Yesterday David Cameron talked welfare reform (handily delayed until 2013) but this morning George Osborne announced his first cut of October (many more to come).

For those who missed it George Osborne announced that Child Benefit would no longer be paid to households where one member of the household earned over £44,000.

As the BBC helpfully explained:

He (Mr Osborne) confirmed the cut would hit homes with a single or two high earners (as in over £44,000) but families with two parents on incomes up to £44,000 – which might add up together to over £80,000 – would keep the benefit.

So a couple earning up to £82K a year could receive child benefits, yet a single parent earning a little over £44K (and paying more tax than a couple) would not… When asked whether his policy was fair, Mr Osborne’s response was that it may not be fair, but it’s the easiest way to do it.

So, with the comprehensive spending review almost upon us – and the axe about to fall on many of our services and benefits, I got to thinking…..if Mr Osborne is using the ‘is it easy’ test when deciding which public services to cut what can we expect from the CSR?

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