Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Why are local Governments still recruiting?

Old Holborn has been scanning the job pages of the Guardian and started a rather amusing post around the non jobs being created by local Government:

Pointless Jobs Competition

Here, you will find 574 Job vacancies.

Let's see who can find the most ridiculous one.

(PS, I've already found Lambeth council advertising for a "Welfare Take Up Officer")
At the time of writing there are 50 comments, most pointing out how idiotic these jobs are and amazement at how much is being paid. It a good bit of fun and there are some good points made. But I'm starting to think that we've all missed the point - why are they even recruiting?

As the private sector starts to tighten its belt and faces massive lay-offs, even those companies that haven't announced plans will be imposing recruitment bans and be looking at ways of reducing costs, which inevitably means reducing headcount either through redundancies or natural wastage.

Experience tells us that in a number of companies the word will go out "x% headcount reduction". This will be a critical measure to save the company and will affect good, loyal, hard working, people. Even those not made redundant will be affected as they try to ensure that the company doesn't grind to a halt and delivers the same level of service with the reduced headcount.

So, amidst all this we have the state sector increasing, or at best maintaining, headcount. This means fewer people in the private sector have to raise the same or more in taxes, or the money has to be borrowed ie delayed taxes.

Yes, I know that putting these people on the dole means welfare benefits, but as a lot of these jobs were for over £50k there has to be some saving, surely?

There is another benefit from reducing local Govt employment numbers - when we eventually get an upturn these people may go in to wealth producing employment rather than wealth consumption.


Anonymous said...

By the time I followed your link to the page 11:15pm the count had gone up to 664!

former tory said...

I've never worked in the public sector (unfortunately, since it would have been an excellent way of protecting my pension from the recent and ongoing ravages) but I think the answer to your question is that their lives run round the idea that "if we don't spend the budget we'll get less next year". So recruitment goes rattling ahead because if they don't recruit they'll lose the staff budget (headcount) and staff budget (cash). And it all seems to be about empire building anyway so promotions are "earned" up the long stairway of grade increases.

It's time budget underruns were rewarded with bonuses.

And on a related topic, what a shame that recently publicised pension funds shortfalls amongst Local Authorities will be made up without protest by taxpayers, instead of giving the staff the choice of paying much more to keep their generous terms, or of suffering similar fund reductions to the rest of us.

The Great Simpleton said...

Good points FT. I have seen this budget mentality thing in private comapnies as well. The way round it is to ensure that having a budget is not the same as having approval to spend.

Have just valued my meagre pension funds and seen a devaluation of 40% compared to last year I know what you mean about the protection. It does iritate to be paying for theirs twice and from what I see they don't even appreciate the value of the benefit theselves.

Anonymous said...

Former Tory shold stay at home and count his fingers, since economics is clearly way over his head. Appart from the fact that most local authorities are shedding jobs all over the place anyway, his suggestion that
"It's time budget underruns were rewarded with bonuses." Really??
So if the building of a new hospital is delayed, and the the budget not spent in the period expected, you reward this by giving a bonus? A bonus for inefficiency?
This would be a disincentive for efficient staff who did the job well, and a godsend for slackers.
As for Lambeth's Welfare Takeup Officer, it is well known that many people, particularly the elderly do not take advantage of the benefits available to them. This can lead to unnecessary poverty, and even death. They often also get into rent arrears, council tax arrears etc. If the Local Authority is working to help people get all the benefits they are entitled too, it makes common sense, and saves them a great deal of money. There are many ways local authorities could be more efficient and cost effective, but you need to choose your targets more wisely, or any good ideas you may have will be lost in the rubbish.

former tory said...

Thanks for your concern, Anonymous, but you appear to evidence the lack of understanding of objectives-setting which marks everything the public sector gets involved with. It's commonplace in the private sector to work with apparently contradictory, prioritised, objectives that mean that good managers get rewarded, while poor ones get fired (and end up working in local government?)

The sort of simple objective setting you're talking about is what Wat Tyler calls "Simple Shopper" planning.

By the way, the answer's 8 :-)

Mark Wadsworth said...

@ Anon, other sources say that the State has added 50,000 new jobs in the second half of 2008.