Tuesday, 1 June 2010

Daylight is the right remedy

The disclosure this morning of the civil servants earning more than the Prime Minister may come as news even to staff in their own departments; the office staff who have so much difficulty getting money for a round out of the Finance Director at Christmas will be even less happy to learn today that he earns ten times their own salary.

Eric Pickles has already blocked a £240k salary for the new Audit Commission boss, and rightly so. The right figure is about half this.

These public sector fat cats are going to have to slim down - and quickly. Under Labour their snouts have been thrust deep in the trough, taking the differential between a basic admin grade and the top job from around 6x to around 12x. This also applies to the forces; a General should get about 6x a Lieutenant's wedge of £30k, about £180k.

So why should a full General get £60k a year more than the head of the Audit Commission? Well, because the pay multiple is based on the skills and ability of the basic grade - a £30k Lieutenant, rather than a £20k Admin Officer. And why should a Lieutenant get £10k more than a civil servant? Well, think in terms of who and what each are responsible for, the risk each faces and the consequences of the decisions made by each of them, and the physical and mental qualities required of each. The same differential applies at the top of each profession. Men don't die because the head of the Audit Commission misses a 0 off the end of a balance sheet.

So let the daylight flood in to illuminate the distortions.

The Hay Guide was developed in the US in then middle of the last century, but it still holds good for comparing the worth of jobs in large organisations and bureaucracies. Evaluating public jobs using the Hay Guide eliminates taste discrimination - and many of these bloated salaries are the result of positive taste discrimination by the Labour government - and ensures equity between as well as within public sector organisations.

And finally let's lose the myth that these troughing salaries are required to 'retain' people of high calibre in the public sector. They're not going anywhere.


Brian, follower of Deornoth said...

I don't think retention should be a problem in any case; what we need of senior civil servants (all civil servants, come to that) is not just lower pay, but rather fewer of them.

English Pensioner said...

Local Councils need even more scrutiny.
I wonder when a list of all their salaries (and job descriptions) will be published!

Anonymous said...

A rather fine post Sir.
English pensioner is also correct, council senior executives have under the Nu-lavs been able to write open cheques for themselves.
The argument of 'high pay for top staff' is spurious and an asinine argument.
Many people get in on the gravy train for the pension rights and lack of responsibility...'the no one's to blame' culture, you can do what you bloody well like and there is no censure.....quite unbelievable really.
Get the sack for 'reducing patient numbers' -offing people in the NHS (filthy wards) and move on to another highly paid sinecure, Maidstone/Tunbridge Wells Trust did just that.