Posts Tagged ‘civil servants’

In defence of the private sector

19/02/2018, 10:44:07 PM

by John Wall

According to the left’s rhetoric those in the public sector wear their underwear outside, eat three Shredded Wheat and sport a halo. This is a slur on all those – including many Labour voters – in the private sector who, presumably, have horns, wear sackcloth and carry a bell crying “Unclean!, Unclean!”

Will someone being paid the national living wage to clean a floor do it better if they’re in the public sector?

Almost five times as many work in the private than the public sector and as the latter is overwhelmingly a cost centre, it’s largely funded by taxing the former.

Everything in my home is produced by the private sector – and I have no complaints. Legislation has removed toxic materials and made the sofa non-flammable. Should I eat out, the kitchen will have been inspected and health and safety means that everyone should have a decent working environment.

Many know the public sector through the seminal documentaries “Yes Minister” and “Yes Prime Minister” while some remember the earlier radio series “The Men from the Ministry” (1962-77).

Less well known now is 1978’s “Your Disobedient Servant” and its 1981 sequel “Waste Away” by Leslie Chapman (1919-2013) who was a regional director in the, then, Ministry of Public Buildings and Works. “Yes Minister” drew on this, particularly in “A Question of Loyalty”.

The consumer affairs programme “That’s Life!” (1973-94) popularised the term “Jobsworth” – primarily in the public sector.

These may be historic but the public sector still gets things wrong; Mid Staffs and Rotherham are but two recent examples.

Any high street changes over time, if Tesco failed there are Sainsbury’s and Morrisons.

Much of the public sector has to exist. A child born now will need a school place until the 2030s, and there will always be the vulnerable to support. Having been in local government, founded in the 19th century, it’s clear that it will be around, in some form, in the 22nd century.

As a (very junior) civil servant, dealing extensively with the private sector and privatised by Blair, and a borough and county councillor I’ve been able to compare.

Some find public sector work interesting and stimulating but others just have a mortgage to pay and mouths to feed. Skills acquired at the taxpayer’s expense can be exploited in the private sector, the cheapest way to learn to fly is in the RAF.


Facebook Twitter Digg Delicious StumbleUpon

Why aren’t home office civil servants in the dock along with G4S?

17/07/2012, 07:00:04 AM

by Atul Hatwal

At midday today Nick Buckles, chief executive of G4S will begin some of the most uncomfortable minutes of his life.

His questioning by MPs on the home affairs select committee will lead the news bulletins. The management double talk, where simple failure becomes “complex human resource supply chain capacity challenges” or some similar corporate confection, will be boringly familiar.

Rupert Murdoch, James Murdoch, Bob Diamond, and now, Nick Buckles; a nation’s heads will shake in bewilderment across the country, as the news plays out.

But, for all the justified anger and rolled eyeballs at yet another example of egregious corporate malfeasance, something will be missing from proceedings.

Buckles’ pain and squirming will satiate some of the desire for public retribution yet this disaster, as with all government procurement catastrophes, was not the sole responsibility of the private sector.

This contract was allowed to careen horrendously off the rails by civil servants.

In a past life I spent years working projects like this when they used to be called public private partnerships. For all the anger that is directed at the private sector, in one sense, the old title of these projects was right.

They are partnerships.

For every bad contractor spectacularly failing to deliver, there will inevitably have been shoddy, amateurish management by the civil servants running the contract. Never one without the other.

The numbers of checks, committee approvals and monitoring reports that need to be completed in any public contract mean that it should be impossible for something like the G4S scandal to suddenly erupt across our TV screens.

Should be.

At each turn, G4S will undoubtedly have failed to meet the required standard but a brigade of home office civil servants will have been sufficiently incompetent not to notice or do anything about it if they did.


Facebook Twitter Digg Delicious StumbleUpon