Francis Maude is talking crap because…

Francis Maude had this to say in the Guardian today:

"It is absurd to expect that people can be paid the same amount in the public sector as they are paid in the private sector. People come in [from the private sector] to do jobs at senior levels in the public sector because they have an opportunity to make a big difference in the public sector, where they can work on a huge canvas."

(Full article here: http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2011/aug/02/francis-maude-end-lucrative-public-pay)

He is talking crap. Here's why:

1) Why should anyone be paid less for what they do, just because of the sector they work in? Even as a starting point, Maude's premise is nonsense.

2) That said, plenty of evidence shows that public sector salaries are already lower (for like-for-like jobs) than the private sector. The private sector sometimes appears less well paid 'on average' because these averages don't make like-for-like comparisons. But actually, and especially for jobs calling for higher level qualifications, pay is lower in the public sector. For details see here:

http://www.incomesdata.co.uk/areas-of-expertise/pay-reward/private-public-sector-earnings.pdf

http://www.unison.org.uk/file/Public%20private%20sector%20pay%20arguments.doc

http://fullfact.org/factchecks/public_sector_pay_gap_private_workers-2809

3) Across all ‘public servants’ they've only managed to find 291 people earning more than £150,000. This is fewer than a year ago. This does not suggest a culture of excess. How many earn more than this in the private sector? And for what exactly? I think we should be told. Where public sector workers do earn more than this, is Maude saying they aren't good enough at what they do? That the work isn't important enough? That our customers (the public) aren't important enough? Er no. He thinks public sector staff should be paid less pretty much 'just because….'

4) The so-called "side deals" outlined in the article appear to include travel and accommodation expenses for executives of a national organisation to live away from home. Where in the private sector would an employee be expected to pay for their business accommodation and travel? So, Maude thinks it's unreasonable to claim travel and accommodation expenses while leading a national institution, does he? Compare and contrast with MPs second home allowance. And then shout 'hypocrite'!

5) Maude says that: "These [deals] are a feature of the past and not the future. They were made when money was thought to grow on trees." I don't think anyone believes that money grows on trees. Apart from the government that is, who seem to be able to find plenty of it for wars, bailouts and bonuses in the rescued banks, and for the on-costs of redundancy etc. as they slash and burn through public service. Paying people to stop doing useful, productive work. Now there is a scandal.

6) Maude acknowledges that senior staff in the public sector make 'a big difference' and 'work on a huge canvass'. So he is clearly saying these are high impact, wide scope jobs. But he wants to pay less for them. Why?

7) Maude seems to believe in the 'feelgood factor'. That the 'big difference / huge canvass' thing will motivate public sector workers to agree to less take-home pay. Well, how does he square this with all the vicious anti-public service rhetoric of his government? And how does he square it with Letwin's latest suggestion that public servants need to experience more 'discipline and fear'? Not a whole lot of feelgood there, is there? Perhaps ministers should talk to each other and get their bad cop: bad cop act sorted out.

8) Maude is ignoring his Government's own commissioned research. Will Hutton delivered this report on public sector pay in March this year (http://www.hm-treasury.gov.uk/d/hutton_fairpay_review.pdf). It is robustly clear that public sector senior pay is not too high, and indeed does not match private sector counterparts.

So, thanks Maude for talking crap. I wish I could believe nobody was listening.

@itsmotherswork

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5 thoughts on “Francis Maude is talking crap because…

  1. Great post all round, and I particularly love the insight about how ministers need to sort their ‘good cop/bad cop’ routine out. It goes to the heart of the problem here; instead of a disciplined look at how best to save the country money, ministers are scrabbling around looking for idle sound bites and Daily Mail please froth stories. If the coalition was serious about reducing the deficit, then they would get serious about tax evasion, especially on the part of large companies. Even if the top public sector executives increased by a 10 fold, it would still not budge the bottom line of the deficit more than a few millimetres. And if it did increase 10 fold it would start to approach the more modest salaries earned in private sector boardrooms.

  2. Well said the condems talk a load of inconsistent gibberish that aims for sound bytes – in over 35 years of public service I never felt well valued – and we have always been portrayed as a drain on society

  3. Great post. I’m getting so angry with the ‘divide and rule’ tactics of this govt whether it be public sector v private sector. Wage earners v benefits claimants. Deserving v undeserving poor. It is toxic and is designed to divert us from the real common enemy of the elite ruling classes. Wow, I’m moving further to the left as I get older.. instead becoming more conservative!

  4. Many thanks for this post. Maude’s hypocrisy wasn’t news to me to be honest but I really hadn’t considered the comparison with Letwin’s recent comments – which is very instructive. They really do want public sector workers (apart from themselves, naturally) to have the worst of both worlds.

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