Posted tagged ‘pay’

When hard work doesn’t pay

February 9, 2011

Is this Eric's dream?

At We Love Local Government, we like staff who work hard.  Whether it’s at the top of the ladder or down the bottom doesn’t matter; it’s about taking pride in your job and doing a job you would be proud to put your name to.  Schemes like the Guardian’s ‘Local Government Heroes‘ is right up our street.  We also aren’t totally against these people being rewarded for their efforts.  More creative ways of this recently highlighted include getting celebrities along to award events, but a simpler marker for rewarding hard workers is to pay them a bit more money.

We’re not talking millions here, and occasionally thanks to the Dilbert Principle occasionally someone gets paid more than they’re worth, but generally if someone works hard and takes on a job with a lot of responsibility they get a few more pennies in their bank account at the end of the month.

Not for the first time, nor for the last, this is where we appear to disagree with the great Eric Pickles.

You see, Eric doesn’t seem to like the fact that hard working managers (and yes, there are such things) get paid well for their work; no, Eric doesn’t like this at all. In fact, Eric likes this so little that he seems to want to do all he can to vilify these people.  Whether it’s calling for them all to be named-and-shamed, constantly berating them for doing non-jobs, simply calling for them to be cut altogether or hiring hitmen to pick them off one at a time*, Eric wants to rid the world of the curse that is above averagely paid workers.

It’s strange for a number of reasons, not least being the fact that he is above averagely paid himself.  What is it that makes you prey to attack when you reach a certain level?  What changes about you as a person when you reach the magical figure of £58k?

As an experiment, think about a primary school teacher you know (odds are you do, otherwise think Joanna Lumley in a younger body); they are great, caring, hard working and well respected by all around them for the impact they have on lives. (more…)

Schapp Attack

January 11, 2011

Is he really helping here?

There has been a lot of talk in the media recently about Councils using stealth taxes and raising charges in order to pay for the salaries of their Chief Execs and other senior managers.  Normally I would ignore such things as the tripe that they are, but over the weekend and the beginning of this week some fairly big names have waded into the debate.

On Monday I heard Grant Shapps discussing this on BBC London, and listened to him trot out this and other lines such as how local authorities should need to do nothing more than a bit of restructuring to save the 4.5%.  He happily glossed over the fact that many Councils are facing a cut of much more than this, with some having to make 8.9% this year and then keep on cutting until they’ve saved over 25% over the next few years.

He then spouted the old faithful: “how many chief execs earn more than the Prime Minister”.  We’ve spoken about this ridiculous argument before, but it seems to be the default position when it comes to anything to do with money and local authorities.  This arbitrarily set wannabe high-water mark should be something that the Daily Express came up with and championed, but instead it appears to have gained traction with the impressionable masses.

The trouble with all of this talk is that it paints local government in a universally bad light.  Central government seems to be positioning itself to blame local government should anything go wrong, and in examining the pay of a handful of executives has a quick and easy tag line to stand behind.  They ignore the fact that even if these execs went down to a fraction of what they earned, this still wouldn’t even make a dent in the amount that has to be saved and would be nothing more than a political statement.


If a job’s worth doing, do it properly

January 6, 2011

Let's see some proper ideas for a change

I noticed this article recently, which discusses the fact that most Chief Execs won’t take a pay cut as demanded by DCLG.  I can imagine Eric Pickles’ rage and fury that an edict he has issued has been summarily ignored by those in the field.

To be honest, and I’m not going to make friends here, I can see the Chief Execs points.  The cutting of their salary by 5% is hardly going to make much of a difference in the grand scheme of things, and is nothing more than a token gesture of solidarity.  In fact it’s not even a very good gesture – if I saw my own chief exec taking a 5% cut I’d still be aware that their remaining 95% was ample to support their lifestyles.

This is typical of the small-mindedness and headline grabbing attention that is getting local government nowhere.  People aren’t worried about whether their chief execs get paid £142,500 or £150,000, they are worried about whether or not four out of five of their team will be made redundant within a few months.

This spending review, and the restructures that go with it, are a chance for us to really look at what services local government should actually really be providing, and to what standards.  We should be looking at the things people need rather than the things people want, or even the things we want to deliver because either they sound good or because we have always provided them in the past.  If a service is needed – and I mean really needed, not just desired – then we should be keeping it and delivering it to at least acceptable if not good standards.  If not, then let’s look at other ways of providing it or simply letting it go.

Instead, from my own experience we are doing none of this.  We are looking at the people in our teams, picking those that we like or those projects which have received a positive response from the media or our bosses and also looking at power bases.  Senior managers are not doing anything which will jeopardise their own status or job security (as demonstrated by Camden in my opinion), and in fact are doing all they can to be the last ones standing.

If we keep focussing on easy targets, like how much a single member of staff is getting paid, we are missing whatever chance we had of making something positive out of this awful financial situation.  Let’s stop looking at a single twig and look at the whole forest.

Isn’t this just Big Society in action?

September 24, 2010

Here at We Love Local Government Towers (okay, they aren’t actually towers, but they are ivory) we are always on the lookout for interesting stories about anything and everything to do with local government.  If you happen to have one please do e-mail us at, which is exactly what one of our dear readers has done.

It’s a nice way to end a week which has looked in particular at public sector pay, and whilst it’s not exactly about local government it is interesting that the story doesn’t surprise me in the slightest.  With people sitting next to each other often not talking it’s no wonder that a zoo and the Council didn’t do the same… (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?