Sunday, 18 July 2010

Public pay - the differentials

When we're talking about pay in the public sector, the comparison with pay levels in the private sector is often meaningless, and an over-attention to drawing parallels between the two has led to some iniquitous disparities in public pay. Hutton is getting towards the truth of it when he writes in today's Observer that it's more about 'fairness' - and fairness starts with a level playing field within the public sector.

My default is to compare other public sector salaries to the basic armed forces pay scales. I reproduce these below.

Now, do you think that GPs should earn the same as Major Generals? Or, perhaps like me, you think they should be paid at about a Major's wedge? Should a primary school head earn as much as a Lieutenant General commanding a division, or should the head's pay be more in the Lieutenant Colonel range? For what it's worth, I also reckon council chief executives are worth no more than Major Generals and an NHS consultant at the top of his game no more than a Brigadier.

The spread, from the base salary to the highest, is about 7.5x. This is actually about right, and within an NHS hospital trust or a local authority this equates to a spread of about 6x between the base admin officer salary and the chief executive's - in fact, the spread that used to apply before the insanity of fat cat salaries at the top drew open the gap to something like 12x.

We've got to get the differentials right. If I were an Admiral commanding a flotilla of some of the world's deadliest warships, and responsible for the lives of the crews, the safety of the public and the defence of the realm I'd be a bit miffed to learn I earned the same basic salary as a Sri Lankan locum GP in Dulwich scratching his balls and enjoying a five day week with no call outs.

8 comments:

Simon said...

Good points. You should also note that members of the armed forces also receive an X-factor pay allowance of [10%] (or it was when I served 20 years ago:

http://www.army.mod.uk/join/terms/1136.aspx

Army pay also includes an X-Factor determined by the AFPRB. The X-Factor is a percentage increase to basic pay which reflects the difference between the conditions of service experienced by members of the Armed Forces and conditions in civilian life, which cannot directly be taken into account by the job evaluation process. The X-Factor compensates for such things as, for example, being subject to military discipline, liability for duty at all times, the inability to resign at will, change jobs or negotiate pay, and the danger, turbulence and separation which are part of Service life. The X-Factor also considers some of the advantages of being in the Army, such as travel,

Manganese said...

Spain and France are two countries which provide excellent healthcare and have a higher doctor to patient ratio than here in Britain. Their doctors are paid about the same as a Major - so I'd say your assessment is spot on.

Simon said...

Interesting point of view, but I think you let the hyperbloe get to you at the end.... doubt there are any GPs, especially locums who earn £165k...

lilith said...

Simon, you are wrong. They are on over £100 basic.

Demetrius said...

Having done time on an Army General Staff, also in local government as well as being on an Area Health Authority at one stage. Given the nature of what an Army in the field has to do and how, I would rate Brigadier level at about that for a typical local government very top man. In the medic's I would rate the top pay at a tad above local government with the relevant scaling below.

Gordon the Fence Post Tortoise said...

The sums, given the publically available figures result in some alarming numbers.

£4.3K each worker contribution a year for the NHS (~£90 billion/20 million workers)

The doctors are merely aping the managers snuffling the public trough.... The feeding frenzy of self regarding incompetent "PC" halfwits backed up by voracious "consultancy" / accountantcy outfitsand their associated PR organs must be dismantled and the perps put out in community payback overalls with brooms, mops & buckets.

On the armed forces front I understand that we now have a number of times more admirals than we have floating naval assets and that "retired" admirals are on full pay (no pension!!!!) A situation that I think Samuel Pepys would recognise......

Simon said...

Hi Lilith
Don't think you actually read my post properly. What I was said was that I doubted there were any GPs especially locums earning £165k - in response to Raedwald saying that an Admiral would be pretty hacked off with a locum GP earning the same... ie 4* rank which is the £165,284.
Specsavers?

Raedwald said...

My fault Simon - I should have made it clear that I was referring to a Rear Admiral, 2*, not an Admiral Admiral as it were, who rarely get to command flotillas these days.

GPs' average pay is in the region of £100k - £110k, but some earn up to £380k - see http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1204065/The-GP-earning-380-000-year--hours-doctors-200-hour.html