32 comments on “Hurrah!

  1. Of course they are. It means that 100,000 people will perforce have to join the world of work, some of them for the first time.

  2. Only…………. a 100,000?

    Small beer, there’s only another ± 6.9 million to go.

  3. Are we really “back to 1930 levels of spending” ? Didn’t Brown ridiculously over expand the public sector – real increase of about 50% over 7-8 years ?

    AFAICS most of this is wasted in unnecessary paperwork. I still have nightmares about a time a Social Worker asked me to help her with the forms for one of my lads. Took us 2 hours, and because of his SEN half the boxes were “not applicable”.

  4. Surreptitious Evil

    With respect, as an esteemed commentator on this blog pointed out, you’ve only seen active military service; what do you know about the real world?

  5. Ljh,

    “Are they employable after “working” in the public sectot? Be kinder to shoot them.”

    It’s one of the problems in the recession. A lot of jobs that were being dumped were public sector and a lot of private sector employers won’t touch them.

    I know someone who just bins CVs from people with much time in the public sector. He’s ex-public sector himself and says that the ratio of the useless is just too high to risk it.

  6. Surreptitious Evil – “But knowing this lot, they’ll cull the wrong ones.”

    That is what you get when you elect the Lib-Dems pretending to be Tories. Have they ever culled the right ones?

    In other world-gone-mad news, the chief of Unilever has called on governments to do more about global warming. While the boss of JCB has said Britain will do fine outside the EU.

    Sell Unilever, buy JCB.

  7. 100,000 is an extraordinarily unambitious figure. The Major govt got rid of more than half a million with no fanfare and virtually no strikes. Then Blair & Brown added them back in, and more.

    My guess is that a million would be ambitious, but doable.

  8. Remains to be seen whether these are genuine cuts in headcount, or just shuffling them out to arms-length/outsourcing arrangements or into ‘consultancy’.

    Oh, and others have said … only 100,000?

  9. you’ve only seen active military service; what do you know about the real world?

    Well, inside green, I am regularly at the MoD. Which is full of civil servants and commissioned officers decaying in to civil servants. Luckily, I only have to do a couple of days a month there.

    Outside life-in-green, I have been a scumbag contractor. As such I have dealt with the Cabinet Office, the DWP (that sucks, really sucks), the MoD (that confuses them – especially when I turn up to meetings in uniform. I am, of course, a higher grade as a civvie than I am as military) and BiS (less sucky but much more incompetent than DWP.) Sometimes directly contracting, sometimes supporting their suppliers. So I have quite a lot of experience of un-civil dis-servants.

    And, to be pendantic, exactly what would “the real world” have to do with the civil service or civil service reform?

    That is what you get when you elect the Lib-Dems pretending to be Tories. Have they ever culled the right ones?

    Probably not.

    IMNSHO, anything with diversity in the title, 90% of “HR” and 75% between SEO and SCS1A (inclusive) would be ideal. You need most of the coalface people and, contrary to Mr Ecks regularly expressed view, a few at SCS2 and 3 to protect* people who (mostly try to) work for a living from the politicians.

    * I’m not claiming that the incumbents actually are competent at this, just that the function is a necessary one.

  10. I’ve been working as a an industry specialist on Governement project for just over 3 years and it has been fascinating.

    First thing I’d say is that the good ones are very good, but from my experience they are few and far between. The problem is that it isn’t possible to get rid of the poor ones so they just get shuffled round, I’ve seen one case of a really nice guy being well out of his depth and all that happens is he gets moved from job to job. This type of thing has caused an imbalance in the competency distribution curve and it isn’t a classic bell shape but skewed towards the lower end.

    The next problem is that the department I work for at least, and I understand others are the same, are very top heavy. Everyone is aware of the Permanent Secretory being head civil servant of department but I was very surprised to find a very large number of Directors as well. These people seem to have private sector privileges that go along with being a Director (note not Director of xxxxxx) but without the legal responsibility and there is a distinct lack of willingness to make decisions and take bad news to Ministers. At the same time there are an awful lot of “Senior Management” and Executive Team” meetings, often “off site”. Indeed they love having “away days” for “team building”. This is one area Chris Dillow’s campaign to rid Government of Managerialism could start and be very effective very quickly.

    Then there is the desire to continue with a belief that the civil service can be staffed with generalists. I can understand that for the high flyers to reach the top they need some very bright people and that they need a broad experience of Governement* but for the rest in our ever increasingly specialised world some broader experience of what they are dealing with is necessary. Two examples to illustrate: I was very surprised to find that the finance person I as was dealing with had no finance training and further more there was no qualified accountant or book keeper in the Department at the time. On another occasion I got talking to a new starter in the Telecoms Policy Unit. A very bright girl and when I asked her background, expecting her to say she’d been doing Telecoms at university or maybe a couple of years in Industry (she was about 25) I was surprised to find she’d just spent 3 years in DCMS doing museums and churches policy (Seriously, and we also have a British Film Industry Policy Unit).

    Another area ripe for savings is buildings in central London. I can understand the need to keep a Ministers’ private offices in Central London and even a few key civil servants but its mind boggling how many people are just shuffling emails around. I often comment that when the revolution comes we’re sending the remaining civil servants to work in Grimsby and turning the rather grand building we work in in to a hotel, they think I’m joking. There’s whole teams of press officers and PQ answerers who don’t need to be in London, let alone central London, assuming they are needed in the first place.

    I’d better stop there before I bore everyone to death with my solution for saving money in the Civil Service but the main thing they need is a dose of reality.

    *We do need good people even for a small limited Governement

  11. As pointed out on Yes Minister, senior civil servants are shuffled around every few years so none of them have responsibility for the colossal fuckups they cause.

  12. A friend of mine has just moved from working for a private contractor to the Justice system to working for the Probation Service itself. She said the difference in attitude between the staff is unbelievable. People just sit there and say ‘Not my job’ when something comes up that needs doing, but is out of their usual area. Not that they are unable to do it through lack of skills or knowledge, just won’t do it through sheer Fred Kite-mindedness. And it being the Civil Service of course no-one is made to do anything. So everything takes twice as long as with the private contractor my friend used to work for, and its doing her head in, her being a sensible woman who just wants to get the job done.

  13. I was a relative rarity in that I stayed in one post for twelve years, which meant I got pretty good at the job and was also available to be accountable for my decisions.

    Unfortunately, the civil service doesn’t consider that sort of behaviour to be acceptable, and a technical specialist who actually digs deep into the job and gets really good at it then finds themselves unemployable elsewhere and unpromotable in role.

    I’ll second BiND’s observations on the notion that generalists are meant to do hard sums and difficult analysis on the basis of little knowledge: the thinning out of the real, deep, experience-based technical knowledge in Defence is really quite alarming. However, with salaries frozen and strictly tied to grades, the only way to see a pay rise is going up a grade: hence the inflation of management ranks with personable generalists (if you’re lucky) or careerist bureaucrats (if you’re not).

    I bailed out of the payroll and became a contractor, which for the moment gets me paid decent money for my technical know-how. From inside the system, we could probably lose a third, even half, of the headcount – provided we kept the *right* people and trained or recruited the correct skills into the right places, and then kept and developed them.

    This would mean the payroll wouldn’t drop as much as you’d expect – one reason we get so many generalists, is that £26-35k a year in the south of England is not an attractive salary for an experienced chartered engineer, for example, so someone a few years out of a physics degree gets given the problem and a textbook for background knowledge – but you’d see a serious efficiency gain in the process.

  14. The 5000 pukes in the Senior Civil Service
    The top 50,000 earners in the non-seniorCS–ie most of the upper level managers–the boss class.

    All sacked without compensation and their pensions confiscated.

    That is 55,000 out of the 100. The other 45000 ? Across 5 years natural wastage would get rid of them easily. No new recruits ever of course. And the CS would have their morale boosted sky-high by the demise of their hated circle-jerking bosses.

  15. All Labour governments dramatically expand the Civil Service payroll. In the days when I was in the Inland Revenue (1982-1990) the place was full of people who’d been recruited in the days of surtax/supertax, were nostalgic about it (I had a boss who was fond of saying that East Germany was a better country because nobody there had too much money) and couldn’t be got rid of. So young chaps like me had to wait for the old bastards to die before we could inherit their jobs.

    A former colleague there (v. left-wing, incidentally) who has just retired told me that there was a massive expansion in press officers and much else during the Blair/Brown years.

    It was the experience of working in the Civil Service that turned me into a libertarian and convinced me that much of it should be drastically reformed or abolished.

    QV the excellent contribution by my friend Emily Barley here:

    http://www.conservativehome.com/platform/2015/05/we-ask-our-panel-what-should-cameron-do-next.html?utm_campaign=twitter&utm_medium=twitter&utm_source=twitter

  16. Well, inside green, I am regularly at the MoD. Which is full of civil servants and commissioned officers decaying in to civil servants.

    Hmm. You don’t perchance know a chap by the name of Norman (surname), do you? Military adviser of some sort.

  17. Then there is the desire to continue with a belief that the civil service can be staffed with generalists.

    Nowhere is this more true than in large oil companies. You regularly find people in charge of multi-billion dollar operations who have *zero* experience in the area under his control.

  18. Tim Newman – “Nowhere is this more true than in large oil companies. You regularly find people in charge of multi-billion dollar operations who have *zero* experience in the area under his control.”

    Well in fairness, think how f**ked they would be if they took everyone who was good at their jobs and promoted them to a desk?

  19. As civil servants are highly qualified and under paid this will be very good for them as well.

  20. You don’t perchance know a chap by the name of Norman (surname), do you? Military adviser of some sort.

    The only person I’m allowed anywhere near who has an MA is CJO. And that is ‘near’ not ‘allowed to contaminate with my cynicism’.

  21. Well in fairness, think how f**ked they would be if they took everyone who was good at their jobs and promoted them to a desk?

    Everyone in an oil company does a desk job, pretty much. All the dirty work has been subcontracted out with the exception of a handful of operations positions – the foot soldiers of whom are juniors, and the management of whom often don’t know what the fuck they’re doing.

  22. The only person I’m allowed anywhere near who has an MA is CJO. And that is ‘near’ not ‘allowed to contaminate with my cynicism’.

    Ah, okay. I think my pal advises the Defence Sec and PM.

  23. BIND,

    > I was very surprised to find that the finance person I as was dealing with had no finance training and further more there was no qualified accountant or book keeper in the Department at the time.

    Were you? That may well be the least surprising thing I’ve ever read about the government.

    > Another area ripe for savings is buildings in central London.

    I used to know an ex civil servant in Glasgow who told me that he was in a meeting where relocating was being discussed and a London colleague unknowingly and seriously quoted Sir Humphrey: “But how will we get to Lords to see the cricket?”

    > the good ones are very good

    I know one of the excellent ones. Did astounding work, and quite frankly there were only a handful of people on the planet could have done it. And now of course in high demand in the private sector. There are people we should be glad to have as civil servants. The trouble is the same as with so much state sector stuff — teachers, nurses, doctors, refuse collectors: they need to be a lot more sackable. Until they are, they will inevitably be perceived as one big mass, and the good and the bad will have the same reputation.

  24. My mother (yes, her again, but she’s an instructive example of so many things) is serious hard Left. She worked as a senior NHS manager at the end of her career. After a few years of it, I was surprised to hear her say, “If you want something done, you get the private sector in.” This from a die-hard fan of the USSR.

  25. I enjoyed my 10 years in the civil service. Worked with some great people. And some right slackers.
    In a room of a hundred staff when I left Blackpool I can honestly say I would have employed 5. And that includes my admin assistant who spent half his time wandering the big building collecting his pools money – and still did all his work well.
    Saying that, the worst worker I have come across was disabled and therefore much harder to sack. Extremely slow worker – his job was linking the post to the file and giving it relevant person. His disability made no difference to work.

  26. As a student, I got a 2 week temp job once at Westminster Council social services delivering the mail. I was taking the job of a lady who was on sick leave. By 10.30am I had done what she used to take all day to do. It certainly beat selling expensive handbags to Arab princesses (I was the only man and was very good looking back then) at harvey nicks which was my previous 2-week job. God how my feet ached with all that standing around.

  27. Edward de Bono had and interesting opinion, he said that a civil servant who actively makes their job redundant will continue to be paid a percentage of that job for the rest of their career, and possibly be offered another civil service job.

    Also, are these 100,000 going to be genuine cuts, or just out sourced?

  28. With the British state –whichever politpork is nominally “in charge”–they will never do anything that will reduce their power by one iota. They just want tyranny on the cheap.

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