Monday, October 05, 2009

Cut back on real waste in our public services...

Readers of this blog who still also enjoy the old media (Sid and Doris Grauniad-reader) may just about notice a short letter today making the point that whereas public sector salaries are generally out in the open, this is not always true of the earnings of consultants.

Though amongst the brief and witty letters, the point I am trying to make is so serious as to be almost unfunny. At the moment I'm working with some shop stewards to deal with the threat of redundancies arising from a reorganisation which would save £100k a year - developed by external consultants who appear to have cost the organisation £400k already.

I don't have a problem with bringing in outside expertise where you need it (I think it is something that the trade union should be more willing to do for example). However I have serious concerns about the practice of bringing in consultants (often costing more than £500 a day) and paying them to do the core work of an organisation - or to take responsibility for contentious issues such as redundancies and privatisation.

UNISON has recently exposed this problem in transport and further education as well as local government.

One simple demand we must make is that the hourly rate of each consultant should be as much a matter of public record as the job-evaluated salaries of employees. This will not of itself lead to a reduction in the misuse of consultants by our employers, but it will be a helpful step.

The people who know how to improve public services are the people who deliver them day to day - not those who make a nice living out of cutting jobs and moving on.

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