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Thursday, 19 March 2009

Time to act on top public sector pay

In a previous post - Labour's 'greed is good' culture at the top of the public sector - I summarised the disproportionate rise in top pay and benefits under Labour in the public sector. The excuses these fat cats and their apologists use for their hands thrust deep in the public till are looking increasingly thin. There's no 'international market' in council chief executives; council bosses will not flee overseas if they are paid a third less. Health trusts don't have to pay top dollar 'to attract to the public sector those of a high enough calibre'; most of these appointments are internal , and are earned by spending time being obedient to the scorpions who run the Department of Health and greasing the political members of health boards. University vice-chancellors are not outstanding academics with a long history of publication but glad-handing money-suckers with a penchant for empire building - no shortage of skills there. And so on.

There are two classes of public servants I would exempt from controls; the judiciary and the fighting forces. The judiciary because they're actually the only part of the public sector where a genuine alternative market for their skills exists, and the fighting forces because their salaries are far too low for the responsibilities they exercise. A Lt. Colonel commanding a battalion earns the same as the head of a comprehensive school. But what to do? Three things:
  • If we can't cut the salaries of those in post (and we can't) then we can freeze them. All salaries over say £80k a year should be frozen indefinitely until time and inflation have restored balance to the scale of rewards
  • All public sector pension benefits should be immediately capped at this level - £80k a year - irrespective of actual final salary. This should apply to central and local government and the entire non-exempted public sector. Individuals may make private provision to top-up their own pension provision above this if they wish.
  • All spurious bonuses for top public sector posts must be scrapped. Bonuses linked to Whitehall performance targets suit bureaucrats and no one else. Others are simply meaningless inventions applied by the fat cats to pay themselves more than their salaries.
These three measures are realistic and achievable very quickly with no primary legislation required. All that's lacking is Labour's political will to do anything about it.

1 comment:

Chris said...

Simple. Sensible. Logical.
They'd never do it.