Friday, January 04, 2013
Highly paid non-jobs still proliferating in the British state sector
Listen to the Labour Party, the unions and the BBC, and you’d think the public sector is suffering deeply from economic austerity. All talk is of ‘Tory cuts’ and ‘the public spending axe’.
This week, the new head of the TUC, Frances O’Grady, was the latest to bang the drum when she complained: ‘We seem to be locked into a vicious downward spiral of cuts. They are not working, so the Government cuts even more.’
Yet this is pure fantasy. Contrary to all the hysterical rhetoric about the shrinking state, the truth is that public expenditure and borrowing are actually rising.
In the year to October, Government spending rose by 9 per cent compared with the previous year. Admittedly, there have been some areas where there have been cuts — such as in defence — but most of the really big areas of government spending, such as welfare, health care and education, are still growing.
In the public sector, taxpayer-funded pensions remain far more generous than in the private sector, average pay is significantly higher, job security is greater and conditions are better. Even if the Government is able to implement its ‘austerity programme’ over the next five years, public expenditure will still be at the same level in real terms as it was in 2005, at the height of Gordon Brown’s spending boom before the crash.
And, for the rest of the decade, state spending will continue to swallow almost half of all economic output.
Nothing more graphically illustrates the state’s addiction to high spending than the public sector recruitment adverts carried on the website of The Guardian, the Left’s favourite newspaper.
During the profligate years of New Labour, the paper’s weekly public sector jobs supplement (often running to more than 100 pages) provided a fascinating insight into the expansion of the public sector. There were then some posts for front-line service staff. But now the countless vacancies are for the state’s growing army of bureaucrats, campaigners, managers, co-ordinators and outreach workers.
Nicknamed ‘Jobzilla’ after the all-devouring screen monster, this massive job-creation scheme still eats up a fortune in taxpayers’ money and makes a mockery of all the Left-wing shroud-waving about austerity.
The Guardian no longer publishes its weekly public appointments supplement on paper, but the jobs section of its website is full of taxpayer-funded vacancies.
In the past month, advertised jobs have included an £87,000-a-year chief executive for the Nottingham and Nottinghamshire Futures organisations (which boasts that it ‘delivers skills’ across the East Midlands, whatever that means) and a director of corporate communications at HM Revenue & Customs, on a salary of £120,000.
The advert contains jargon-filled prose so beloved of the modern public sector. Thus, ‘utilising a diverse range of channels to engage with our customers’ and ‘continuously developing an integrated communication strategy’, the appointee with the taxman will be ‘a team-oriented’ leader who enjoys ‘building capacity’.
It might have been thought that the HMRC, rather than beefing up the ranks of self-serving officialdom, would be setting an example of restraint at such a time. Or even making multi-billion-pound international companies pay their share in tax here in Britain.
Three new employees are wanted for the Gypsy Roma and Traveller (GRT) project in Ealing, West London. It is funded by money from the quango the Big Lottery — which hands out Lottery money to community groups — and dedicated to ‘the emancipation of GRT people and the promotion of racial harmony and cultural exchange’.
The posts include a £27,850 Music and Arts co-ordinator, a £22,875 project co-ordinator and a £36,310 ‘Project Manager/Bid Writer’, who will be ‘responsible for devising funding proposals’ to ensure the project’s long-term viability in ‘empowering’ traveller communities.
This rubric is stark proof of how public subsidy becomes self-generating. For the advertised manager will be paid by the public to work out new ways of attracting ever greater financial support from taxpayers, all in the name of ‘addressing the root causes of equality and discrimination’.
The same self-perpetuating cycle can be seen in the area of sexual healthcare. There is a firm called Michael Bell Associates Research and Consultancy (MBARC) which ‘specialises in work with marginalised communities, including refugees, migrants, substance misusers and sex workers’, with clients ranging from the NHS to local government.
Run by Michael Bell, vice-chairman of the London Strategic Health Authority, it is keen to expand and is recruiting two new ‘Sexual Health Commissioning Support Managers’, each on £38,000 a year, ‘to take forward current work and develop opportunities in this area’. These are positions for which the public purse is effectively paying.
Other jobs in different fields advertised in the past month have included a £29,333-a-year campaigns and identity project manager at the South Downs National Park Authority (a post that will ‘project manage the delivery of a behaviour change campaign focusing on greater use of sustainable transport and other sustainability issues’); a £45,000-a-year ‘Financial Inclusion Manager’ at the Hyde Housing Association in South London; a £23,100-a-year ‘Community Integration Support Worker’ at Winchester Prison, dealing with ‘Substance Misuse’; and a £30,011-a-year Asylum Solicitor/Caseworker at the Avon and Bristol Law Centre, partly funded by local town halls.
Such is the addiction to bureaucracy in the public sector that local councils feel they have to be staffed with platoons of grandly named officers.
For example, Medway Council in North Kent is advertising for staff to work in its ‘Performance and Intelligence Hubs’. The exciting posts include a £40,741-a-year ‘Corporate Strategy and Performance Improvement Officer’, a ‘Performance and Improvement Analyst’ on the same salary, a ‘Corporate Business Information Officer’ and a ‘Business Information Officer’, both on £30,011-a-year, as well as a £30,011 Corporate Consultation officer and a £22,221 ‘Data Officer’.
Other local authorities are also embarking on expensive recruitment exercises at a time when several councils are squealing about Government cuts.
Showing none of the legendary Yorkshire parsimony, Barnsley Council is seeking a trio of senior new municipal officials, each of them on ‘an attractive package’ to fulfil the roles as ‘Senior Marketing Manager’, ‘Assistant Director of Information Services’ and ‘Executive Director of Corporate Services’.
It is a similar story at Waltham Forest in East London, where the council is hiring three new officers: a ‘Head of Employment’, ‘Head of Skills’ and ‘Head of Business’, all on salaries between £47,900 and £59,700.
None of these positions appears to have much to do with the front-line jobs people want the state to do, but then so much of officialdom seems divorced from the genuine needs of their heavily taxed paymasters.
Does the partly publicly funded Battersea Arts Centre, for instance, really need a £30,000-a-year ‘Organisation Coach’ to ‘facilitate staff development’? Will the lives of tenants of the Leeds Federated Housing Association be improved by a £50,000-a-year ‘Head of Social Investment’? Is Peterborough about to be turned into a dream destination by the appointment of a ‘Strategic Tourism Manager’ on a £38,961 salary?
The sad truth is that much of all this public recruitment-speak is self-indulgent spin, dressed up as marketing or public relations. It is all about public bodies seeking to boost their profiles rather than deliver better services.
Thus London Councils, the umbrella body for the capital’s local authorities, has decided to recruit a £44,910-a-year ‘Media Manager’, while Lambeth College has a vacancy for a ‘Head of Marketing and Communications’ on a £47,000 salary.
Aberdeen City Council is looking for a £38,500-a-year ‘Marketing and Communications Officer’; the University of the Arts in London is offering a salary of £32,000 to a new ‘Media Relations Officer’ and Hackney feels it needs a £40,500-a-year ‘Marketing Services Executive’.
The same spirit of self-importance is betrayed in the way politicians build up their subsidised empires and surround themselves with acolytes to enhance their status. So the Tory Chairman of the London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority is seeking a £30,000-a-year ‘Research and Support Officer’ to ‘help co-ordinate media opportunities with the press team’, as well as ‘diary arrangement and briefings for all meetings’.
Justifying the trend towards ever-higher salaries for senior figures in the public sector, civic institutions are fond of making comparisons with the pay rates for executives in the private sector. But this is hardly a convincing argument, since state managers are under nothing like the same pressures as those in the commercial world, where success is achieved by meeting customers’ needs, not by ticking boxes or mouthing fashionable jargon.
Among the array of well-rewarded posts displayed on The Guardian website over the past month have been an £88,000-a-year chief executive of the South Yorkshire Probation Trust, a £70,000-a-year Head of Management Accounting at the Cabinet Office, a ‘Director of Communities, Transformation and Change’ at Kirklees in Yorkshire — for which post a ‘competitive’ but unstated package is offered — and a chief executive at the newly created West of England Local Enterprise Partnership (salary £87,000).
These partnerships are the successor bodies to the despised and extravagant Regional Development Agencies which the Coalition said with self-congratulatory fanfare that it was removing in 2010, only to allow the agencies to be resurrected in an alternative form.
These endless lists of public sector vacancies expose the emptiness of the hysterical claims about ‘Tory cuts’. For the most part, these are uttered by the public sector’s vested interests.
The police are a classic example. The moans from chief constables and the Police Federation about ‘lack of resources’ have been deafening. Yet the Avon & Somerset Constabulary has enough money to appoint a new £25,500-a-year ‘Projects Officer’ in its ‘Organisational Development Team’, while the Thames Valley Police is seeking both a £38,562-a-year ‘Senior Learning and Development Delivery Manager’, and a £33,312-a-year ‘Leadership and Development Training Delivery Manager’.
The arrival of the elected Police Commissioners, on salaries of more than £90,000, much to the public’s indifference, has also led to a further bonanza for bureaucrats. The new Commissioner for Merseyside (the former Labour MP Jane Kennedy) has advertised for a ‘Chief Executive’ to run her office, on a salary of £70,000.
This army of public sector panjandrums is the real story of the public sector, not the chorus about ‘cuts’.
At every turn, Jobzilla seems to be as strong as ever, whether it be in the NHS — where Berkshire Healthcare Trust wants a £55,000-a-year ‘Head of Marketing and Communications’ — or in quangoland, where the Independent Police Complaints Commission is advertising for two £76,000-a-year Commissioners (one in Cardiff and the other in the North of England).
Given this never-ending public sector recruitment drive, it’s little wonder the Coalition is struggling to tackle the huge public deficit. If cuts are to be made anywhere, it seems obvious where the axe should fall: on Jobzilla’s neck.
4,000 foreign murderers and rapists Britain can't throw out. . . and, yes, you can blame human rights again
Nearly 4,000 foreign murderers, rapists and other criminals are roaming the streets, free to commit new crimes. The Government wants to deport them but admits that many cannot be kicked out because of their human rights.
A Parliamentary answer reveals that 3,980 foreign criminals who should have been sent back to their country of origin are ‘living in the community’.
The figures do not even include the handful of terrorist suspects such as Abu Qatada whom the Government is seeking to extradite.
Officials say thousands use the Human Rights Act, which guarantees the ‘right to family life’, or fears about violence in the countries they left as a way of dodging deportation.
Around 800 of the foreign criminals have been at large in Britain for more than five years.
The revelations last night prompted calls for the Government to withdraw from the European Convention on Human Rights so that the foreign offenders can be sent home.
Ministers admitted last year that a string of murders and sex attacks have been committed by foreign nationals who should already have been kicked out. Foreign criminals on immigration bail have committed three murders, three kidnappings and 14 sexual offences, including rape. Official figures show that there have also been arrests in relation to 27 other ‘violent crimes’ and 64 thefts.
Home Office Minister Mark Harper used a Parliamentary written answer to release the most recent figures, recorded at the end of September. He said: ‘There are 3,980 foreign nationals in the UK subject to deportation action living in the community. We continue to pursue removal in all these cases.
‘The principal barriers to removal are non-compliance on the part of individuals which means we have insufficient evidence of nationality and identity to obtain a travel document, ongoing legal challenges and the situations in countries of return.’
Home Secretary Theresa May has issued new guidance to judges saying Section 8 of the Human Rights Act, which guarantees the right to family life, should not override serious criminality in deportation cases.
But critics say that is not enough to solve the problem. Tory MP Priti Patel, who asked the Parliamentary question that led to the publication of the figures, called for the abolition of the Human Rights Act.
She said: ‘Lax immigration and border controls inherited from the previous Labour government have left this mess and the current Government must take all steps necessary, including abolishing the Human Rights Act, to get these people removed from Britain.
‘The public deserve to have a robust immigration system in place to keep them safe instead of laws and rules designed to help foreigners remain in Britain when they should have no right to be here.
‘Hard-pressed taxpayers will be disgusted to learn that they are footing the legal fees and living costs associated with this number of foreigners overstaying their welcome.’
Sir Andrew Green, chairman of MigrationWatch UK, said: ‘This is an extraordinary number. Offenders and their lawyers are clearly playing the legal system. ‘The case for pulling out of the 60-year-old ECHR gets stronger by the day. The Government is trying to give better guidance to the courts but that is most unlikely to have the necessary impact. 'The only long-term solution is to pull out of the ECHR completely and write our own human rights law.’
David Cameron has set up a review into whether a British Bill of Rights could replace the Human Rights Act, but his Lib Dem partners will oppose any move to leave the ECHR.
Ministers say they are speeding up the deportation process.
The average number of days between a foreign national offender finishing his or her sentence and being removed has fallen from 131 days in 2008 to 74 in 2011.
A UK Border Agency spokesman said: ‘We are absolutely determined that any foreign national who fails to abide by our laws should face the consequences and in 2011 we deported more than 4,600 foreign criminals.'
London archbishop who opposes same-sex marriage announces Catholic Church has scrapped gay-friendly Soho Masses
The Catholic Church has scrapped gay-friendly Masses in the central London church that has held them for the past six years, London's archbishop announced yesterday.
Our Lady of the Assumption, an 18th-century church in Soho, the heart of London's gay scene, has been hosting the twice-monthly masses with the support of the local Church hierarchy.
But Archbishop Vincent Nichols said in a statement that gay Catholics should attend mass in their local parishes rather going to separate services.
'The mass is always to retain its essential character as the highest prayer of the whole Church,' Nichols said, stressing there would still be pastoral care to help gay Catholics 'take a full part in the life of the Church'.
The move has been blasted by Stonewall director of public affairs Ruth Hunt, who is Catholic. She told the BBC: 'Given what's happened over Christmas, where there were vitriolic and mean messages from pulpit about same-sex marriage, there has never been a more important time to provide a safe space for gay Catholics to pray.'
Archbishop Nichols has previously attacked the government's gay marriage Bill, labelling it 'undemocratic' and a 'shambles'.
The Vatican teaches that gay sex is sinful but homosexuals deserve respect.
The decision on the 'Soho Masses' came after sharp criticism of same-sex marriage by Pope Benedict and bishops in Britain and France, where the governments plan to legalise gay nuptials.
Nichols has spoken out in recent weeks against same-sex marriage but Church officials and a spokesman for the Soho gay congregation said the decision to stop the Soho Masses was not explicitly linked to that debate. 'We don't see any direct cause and effect,' said Joe Stanley, chairman of the Soho Masses Pastoral Council.
London's approved gay-friendly masses were launched in early 2007 while the Vatican's top doctrinal official was Cardinal William Levada, the former archbishop of San Francisco, a city with a large gay community and several gay-friendly churches.
Nichols reaffirmed his support for them last February. Since then, Levada was replaced by Archbishop Gerhard Mueller, who German Catholic media have said wanted to clarify the apparent contradiction between them and Church teaching on homosexuality.
The Our Lady of the Assumption church will now become a parish for disaffected Anglicans who became Catholics in protest against moves in their churches towards allowing female and gay bishops.
Conservative Catholics in Britain have long complained to the Vatican about the Soho Masses, saying they flouted Church teaching on homosexuality, and small groups sometimes protested outside the church during the services.
The archbishop's office declined to comment on his statement or any discussions with the Vatican.
Women, discrimination, and a free society
For the first time in its history, South Korea has elevated a woman to the office of president. Newly elected Park Geun-hye is the daughter of the president and dictator Park Chung-hee, who ruled the country from 1961 until his assassination in 1979.
During her presidential campaign, she pledged to increase government aid to single parents, expand maternity and paternity benefits, and promote flexible work arrangements in order to get more women in the work force.
In an interview with NPR, Kim Eun-Ju, director of the Center for Korean Women and Politics, noted that the South Korean presidential campaign ignored what she sees as two big problems: “One is that Korean women get paid nearly 40 percent less than their male counterparts — the biggest such disparity among the world’s developed economies. The other is that Korean women’s representation in politics ranks 108th out of 132 countries.”
Also interviewed was Kim Wan-hung, a researcher with the Korean Women’s Development Institute. She spoke of how difficult it is for any government policy to undo centuries of cultural tradition: “Men work. Women stay at home. This idea is ingrained in people’s minds. The salary differential has not been considered important. And less has been done to solve this problem in Korea than in other developed countries.”
I suppose it might be the case in traditional male-dominated Korean society that women would be deliberately paid less than men for the same job. But such is certainly not the case in the United States, where record numbers of women hold political office, are on police forces, and work in what used to be considered male occupations.
So why do we in the United States still hear about the “glass ceiling”? Why do we still hear the cry of “equal pay for equal work”? Why do we still hear about the “wage gap” between men and women? What are we to make of reports from organizations such as the American Association of University Women that “among all full-time workers, women are paid about 77 cents for every dollar paid to men”?
The wage gap between the sexes was an issue in the recent presidential election. Democrats touted Barack Obama’s signing of the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, while Republicans pointed out that, according to 2011 White House salary records, female employees of the Obama administration earned a median salary 18 percent less than men. Similar disparities have been found on the staffs of Democratic legislators, including Obama’s former senate office.
There is no denying the fact that in the United States men, on average, earn more than women. Now, although it is true that women’s productivity was lower than men’s when physical strength and stamina were more important in the workplace, such is generally not the case nowadays. So what accounts for the “pay gap”? The main thing is marriage and children. Women who marry and leave the work force to raise children have less experience and seniority than men when they return to work. It’s not that women are paid less; they earn less. When you compare not all men and women, but only men and women who have never been married (or had children), the wage gap disappears.
But that’s not all. According to Warren Farrell in the book Why Men Earn More: The Startling Truth Behind the Pay Gap — And What Women Can Do About It, there are a number of things that account for a pay gap between the sexes:
Men go into technology and hard sciences more than women.
Men are more likely to take hazardous jobs.
Men are more willing to expose themselves to inclement weather at work.
Men tend to take more-stressful jobs.
Men are more likely to work longer hours.
Men work more weeks per year than women.
Men have half the absenteeism rate of women.
Men are more willing to commute long distances to work.
Men are more willing to relocate to undesirable locations for higher-paying jobs.
Men are more willing to take jobs that require extensive travel.
Men are more likely to work on commission.
And as explained by Carrie Lukas of the Independent Women’s Forum,
"In truth, I’m the cause of the wage gap — I and hundreds of thousands of women like me. I have a good education and have worked full time for 10 years. Yet throughout my career, I’ve made things other than money a priority. I chose to work in the nonprofit world because I find it fulfilling. I sought out a specialty and employer that seemed best suited to balancing my work and family life. When I had my daughter, I took time off and then opted to stay home full time and telecommute. I’m not making as much money as I could, but I’m compensated by having the best working arrangement I could hope for."
Women make similar trade-offs all the time. Surveys have shown for years that women tend to place a higher priority on flexibility and personal fulfillment than do men, who focus more on pay. Women tend to avoid jobs that require travel or relocation, and they take more time off and spend fewer hours in the office than men do.
But now we are also told in reports such as Graduating to a Pay Gap from the American Association of University Women that “just one year out of college, millennial women are paid 82 cents for every dollar paid to their male peers.” They are “paid less than men are even when they do the same work and major in the same field.” The report finds that “women’s choices — college major, occupation, hours at work — do account for part of the pay gap.” However, “About one-third of the gap remains unexplained, suggesting that bias and discrimination are still problems in the workplace.”
There are two problems with this alleged pay gap.
The first is that we almost never hear complaints about a pay gap when sex roles are reversed. Female fashion models get paid much more money than their male peers. As do female porn stars. Where is the outrage? Where are the charges of bias against men? Where are the cries of discrimination? Where are the calls for government intervention to rectify the problem?
And the second is that profit usually trumps bigotry. If women have the same productivity, skill-set, and availability as men, but are willing to work for less money than men, then there would be additional profits available for the taking to any firm that hired only women.
Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.
American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.
For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN (Note that EYE ON BRITAIN has regular posts on the reality of socialized medicine). My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here.