Posted tagged ‘public sector workers’

Oliver Letwin: Fear doesn’t come cheap

August 3, 2011

Am I afraid? Does this face look afraid?

The comments of Oliver Letwin over the weekend have caused quite a stir within the Public Sector. In case you missed it (where have you been?) Mr Letwin said:

“You can’t have room for innovation and the pressure for excellence without having some real discipline and some fear on the part of the providers that things may go wrong if they don’t live up to the aims that society as a whole is demanding of them,”

“If you have diversity of provision and personal choice and power, some providers will be better and some worse. Inevitably, some will not, whether it’s because they can’t attract the patient or the pupil, for example, or because they can’t get results and hence can’t get paid. Some will not survive. It is an inevitable and intended consequence of what we are talking about.”

In response some of our favourite blogs sought to make sense of things. Fighting Monsters took him to task in an article entitled ‘why I despise Oliver Letwin’ which amongst many points said the following:

What kind of society have we become when we feel it is appropriate for a Government ‘Policy Minister’ to drive a disdain and almost bullying approach to a public sector that provides services he will never need?

Meanwhile Flip Chart Fairy Tales got to the bottom of some of Mr Letwin’s more general arguments and looked specifically at the issue of productivity. After agreeing that there has been a fall in productivity alongside an increase in performance he argues about the upcoming savings agenda:

Will more discipline and fear help? Probably not. A bit more discipline wouldn’t go amiss in some areas but it’s not going to save £52bn. If anything, language like this will just further piss off the already pissed off public sector managers, the very people on whom the government is relying to make the changes work.

So what is left to say? Despite all the heat and light about Mr Letwin’s intemperate comments there is a real challenge for Local Government that underpins the Government’s approach.

(more…)

Trans-Atlantic (dis)agreements

April 27, 2011

Obama shows the way

Britain and America are apparently two nations divided by a common language but despite this we often share the same problems.

Exhibit A: the public sector worker.

Last month David Cameron got himself in a modicum of trouble for blaming civil servants for holding back his latest reforms (he called them the enemies of enterprise) and it seems that Barack Obama has also got himself into ‘public-servant bashing’ trouble describing some federal employees as ‘slugs’ who are not trying to do their job.

So, lazy public sector workers in both countries right?

Well, no.

What is striking about (the unedited version of) Mr Obama’s comments is that whilst he shares Mr Cameron’s concerns about the work of public servants his actual quote was taken out of context. So, whilst Mr Cameron, and our friend Mr Pickles, see public servants as part of the problem here is the rest of Mr Obama’s quote:

“What’s striking when you enter into the federal government is how generally smart and dedicated people are.” The president also noted that some federal employees “are slugs and not trying to do their job. But that’s true of any large institution.”

And later on, as the Washington Post reported;

During that private conversation, the president also praised feds saying, “Generally speaking, he would put up federal workers against any workers in the private sector.”

Public sector workers are, in Mr Obama’s conception, seen not as part of the problem but as part of the solution.

Refreshing isn’t it?

(more…)