Thursday, 3 December 2009

Public Service Is The Place To Be

One of the most recession proof areas of the last 2 years of crisis has been the Public Sector. Makes you think we are a bunch of mugs in the private sector.

As unemployment hurtles upwards, very few jobs have been lost in the public sector as private firms have borne the brunt of the downturn in terms of laying people off and cutting costs. There are few firms in the private sector which have grown to any great degree while many have contracted or even disappeared. Meanwhile, despite a colossal budget deficit and borrowing now at 59% of GDP and rising, the public sector shows no sign of having to rein itself in - except of course if you are in the Armed Forces where there have been many crazy cuts as we attempt to fight two wars and have suffered as many casualties in Afghanistan as we did in the Falklands War.

The Sunday Times Appointments Section, barometer of how the job market is in terms of investment, has for some time been packed full of senior public sector appointments with salary packages that would make most business people look at least twice. The recruiters in this sector, like Rockpools, have been making a mint and the market for Health Interims is more healthy than the industry they supply - it's big, big business. Executives in the public sector are paid very well - far more than many of their private counterparts considering they create no wealth. Then there are the pensions. Let's not go there - I had a recent statement on my plans and frankly the prospect of retirement depresses me greatly. I can see myself never being able to stop work.

Workers in the Public Sector just don't get that point as they hassle for more pay citing the private sector as the yardstick.

It's not just redundancies - the public sector is like a vast sponge for money and it just keeps expanding. Latest estimates show that almost 1 in 4 jobs in the UK are in the public sector while the sector just absorbs more money and wastes a vast proportion of it on projects that deliver little and continually over run. In the MoD there is dreadful control of assets, huge contract overspends and then too few people at the business end with little enough equipment to do the job, while the civil servants back home pocket a share in a £48m of bonus payments. Injured troops or the families of the dead get precious little compensation for their losses when clerks in the MoD can sue for massive payouts for little than a bit of bullying or stress - try Helmand province for a bit of repetitive stress. MPs consume vast expenses for little to show for it and cannot see why the public is at odds with them - indeed, they want more pay and to continue to stand at the next election. The NHS is full of padding and overspends yet vital drugs are not given due to cost. Education is delivering mathematically sub-standard and illiterate graduates who cannot even get jobs - the list goes on. Yet we have not saved a penny despite a huge borrowing crisis.

Now we have the final insult. As soon-to-be 84% owners of RBS, we (the public) watch in sheer horror as traders and executives are to be paid over £1.5bn in bonuses from making profits that we (the public) have created for them by bailing them out and giving them free money to re-capitalise, none of which they have passed on to the economy.

It's a story that you could not write it's so idiotic and unbelievable. Globally £15 trillion has been spent on saving the banks and all we have done is lined their pockets by giving them profits as easy as spearing fish in a barrel. As Gordon Brown enjoys a resurgence in public opinion even though the public do not understand why we fight wars, his crony, Lord Myners, says that, 'Bankers should get into the real world'.

Let's just remind ourselves, this is the same Government that told us we could not get caught up in recession as our economy was so strong, then it would not hit us so bad for the same reason when it did and now of the G20 richest nations we are the only one still in recession which is the longest on record for the UK. Let's also remind ourselves that WE own a huge stake in most of the high street banks and WE are the major shareholders of these companies. WE have the capability to demand how they pay their people.

The Government continues to sit on the fence and just lob insults - as they should have done to have avoided the crisis we are in, they should ACT now. To hell with competition, stop the bonuses and reform banking.

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