Wednesday, 17 July 2013

'Working at Home'

Reaching a certain level of seniority in employed work is marked by one's ability to announce breezily from time to time that 'I'll be working from home tomorrow'. Sometimes it's really beneficial, such as sorting a complex final construction account that needs quantities of ciggies and coffee only available at home. Most of the time it means a visit from the plumber or waiting for a parcel for which we senior types aren't willing to take a day's holiday. Whichever, it's a valuable privilege to be used carefully, not exploited. Except if your name is Phillippa Williamson and you work in the public sector.

Phillippa decided she wanted it all - a top London public sector job-for-the-girls, a fab home in the Lake District, a child and a family life. Her first grab was at HM Revenue and Customs, where she persuaded them to let her do a five day job in four, permanently 'working from home' for the fifth. Then she took the job as Serious Fraud Office chief where (so ironically) she not only decided that she only needed to work three days a week in London, but that the taxpayer should pay for her travel and accommodation when she did so; she changed her job into permanently working at home, with additional payments if she had to come into the office. And all for the wholly selfish and self-interested reasons - to spend time with her teenage son at her beautiful home.  ‘Now I have a Black-Berry, a webcam, I can teleconference – it’s amazing how it’s all changed. Part of my job is to think about where we are going to take the organisation and I do that more contemplative side better in my home environment.’ said Phillippa to the Mail in 2009, when the direction she was taking the SFO was straight down the shitter. With an absent boss who had already decried that the SFO shouldn't tackle any cases that were 'too expensive' to investigate - those against large global corporations - Phillippa could chillax by the Lakes at the taxpayer's expense.

The Commons PAC yesterday published a damning report on what to many eyes amounts to a serious moral fraud. The Chair of the PAC said;
“Mr Alderman provided the SFO’s Chief Executive Officer Phillippa Williamson with a contract specifying that her place of work was her home address in the Lake District. She worked there two days a week. When Ms Williamson worked at the SFO’s London offices three days a week, taxpayers paid for her travel and hotel costs to London, at a cost of nearly £100,000 between 2008 and 2012. For the CEO of an important public body such as the Serious Fraud Office to be granted such arrangements is quite astounding.
“Furthermore, a payment of over £400,000 was made to enhance her pension, even though the necessary approval from Cabinet Office to do so was not in place. The Cabinet Office should explain how this payment was allowed to go ahead without being approved."
And exactly why is no-one going to prison for this?


Anonymous said...

And exactly why is no-one going to prison for this?

Is that a rhetorical question? It must be because the answer is already obvious. It's because no one at that level gives a shit about who is paying for that priveledge (namely the private sector tax payer) and what is worse, such abuses are encouraged by the government, who themselves abuse priveledge. So why would turkeys vote for Christmas?

Coney Island

Mrs Proudie of Barchester said...

It would be nice, wouldn't it, for just once and a while rogues like this were made examples of...but no. There are rules for 'them' and rules for 'us'. Why we put up with it I will never understand...

Umbongo said...

It was all very well for the SFO to specify that her "place of work" was her home in the Lake District but HMRC has been known to question - in the private sector natch - where the place of work actually is.
Accordingly, in the absence of any further info, prima facie it appears there's been a stitch-up between two parts of the public sector (HMRC and the SFO) so that all Mrs Williamson's ex-Lake District travel and accommodation expenses were received tax-free.
In my (private sector) experience convincing HMRC that similar arrangements for an employee were acceptable was next to impossible. It seems to me that, as well as receiving a ludicrously large pay-off courtesy of Mr Alderman, Mrs Williamson received over-generous and arguably illegally tax-free expenses courtesy of HMRC.

Weekend Yachtsman said...

Why is no-one going to prison?

Because they're all members of the political class and they make sure such things never happen.

Remind me again why we do not rise up and slaughter these people?

En passant said...

Are these two Common Purpose "graduates" perchance? Or Labour apparatchik appointees?

We really do need to clean up the tumbrils and get them back into working order again.

Was it not an ex-Chief of Customs who sold off their HQ building and disappeared off with the loot a few years back?

Why is there never a policeman around when you need one?

Gordon the Fence Post Tortoise said...

Well... it's endemic innit.

Wasn't there some council bozo based in Thailand?

It's the A word - accountability. Where there is no sanction for taking the piss - they bring pumps in. The abuse is chronic and systematic. Nobody lower down the tree will shop the big piggies as they're all taking the piss too and the lower rank urine taking is passively sanctioned I think to cultivate complicity.

It's interesting that some folk (The Environment Agency in this case) use very heavy duty legal threats of defamation to silence people whose conscience and sense of what's right is troubling them.

The establishment of the raft of Agencies over the last 20 years has I think been instrumental in this corruption.

Now then Dave, about that bonfire of the quangos....

Anonymous said...

Lordy and isn't life dandy?

Delicious 'work' if you can organize it - unions approve, the labour party encourages it and the Fabians of CP will see to it... and by a country mile and half pippa ain't the only gal or laddie, playing that game - is she??

Fuckin' hell, most of the quango-crats take the piss, so too do, town councils/civic halls up and down the country.

Why do they do it?

Because they can.

Usually only the taxpayer is shafted, in the case of the NHS of course, senior management..its a matter of life and death.

Anonymous said...

Comment a bit late, and maybe a bit facile too...:)

But is anyyone reminded of the "Zil lanes"?

Going in the same direction I hope!

G. Tingey said...

Meanwhile, we are clamping down on faudulent benefit claimants who try to fiddle an extra £150 or so.
One rule for them, another rule for you seems to be the operating parameter here, does it not?