Saturday, 8 March 2014

Grayling's Legacy

It looks like the latest day of action by our colleagues in the legal profession was a huge success. It really does take a lot to upset lawyers who have now withdrawn their labour on two occasions and show no sign of giving in over legal aid cuts.   

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Maxine Peake tv's Silk and Lady Justice

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According to Sadiq Khan, the Lord Chancellor believes Magna Carta is a large bottle of Champagne. 

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It's been brought to my attention what the Labour Party Manifesto might have to say about probation, and it can best be described as weasel words I think:-

Success in the probation system is built on partnership working between agencies, and on the strength of the relationships between dedicated probation staff and individual offenders. The Government’s actions in breaking up this model go against the grain of everything we know about what helps to rehabilitate offenders. Labour will not allow decisions on the supervision of dangerous offenders to be determined by profit, rather than public safety, and we will make sure that those providing probation services are subjected to appropriate levels of transparency and scrutiny.

Clearly we have some work to do in relation to all political parties before the next election.

You will recall that Atos and the government are going to part company over the contract for Work Capability Assessments, but as one door shuts, another two open. First this from the Telegraph:-
The beleagured firm Atos has been given the contract to extract patient records from GP surgeries as part of the controversial NHS data sharing scheme, MPs were told yesterday. The Commons health committee heard that the firm has been given responsibility for removing personal data from medical records, as part of the national programme, which has been delayed for six months amid an increasing backlash.
Last week NHS England ordered the delay after pressure from patients groups, doctors’ leaders and privacy campaigners, who argued that the national plan had been poorly communicated, and that the public had not been properly informed about their right to opt out.
Yesterday, health service officials disclosed that a key contract for the controversial project has been handed to the firm Atos, which has faced criticism over its handling of “fitness for work” tests on disabled benefit claimants. Last week, the company confirmed it was seeking an early exit from its contract with the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) in the face of persistent death threats to staff.
The other door to open was reported here on the Civil Service World website:-
Lockheed Martin has won a five year IT services contract with the UK Ministry of Justice (MOJ). It is one of the biggest single IT services contracts won by Lockheed Martin’s UK operations to date, underpinning the company’s growing position in the UK IT services sector.
The MOJ provides IT services to approximately 90,000 users across the estate in England and Wales, which includes more than 600 courts and tribunals and 100 prisons.
As the provider of Service Integration and Management (SIAM) services to the MOJ, Lockheed Martin will manage the transition of existing services to a new operational model and manage the day-to-day delivery of a wide range of supplier services. It will work with the MOJ to ensure efficiencies are delivered, services are standardised and enhanced service levels are met, regardless of which company is delivering them.
Lockheed Martin is partnering with UK-based Atos, Skyscape Cloud Services and the Cadence Partnership to deliver the MOJ contract. With other new contracts, Lockheed Martin UK expects to increase its employee numbers by some 200 people.
Potential bidders for probation work, especially small ones, would do well to take note of the bullying tactics employed recently during negotiations for the national electronic tagging contracts and outlined here in the Guardian.   

The promise of a revolution in supervising offenders with a new generation of tags that could track them 24 hours a day by the justice secretary, Chris Grayling, has suffered a setback with the collapse of talks this week with the small British hi-tech company that was to deliver the hardware at the centre of the scheme.
The breakdown sparked a furious exchange between the justice ministry and Buddi, which is run by Sara Murray, a member of Vince Cable's "entrepreneurs' panel", and chaired by the former Metropolitan police commissioner Lord Stevens.
Buddi was given preferred-bidder status in August to provide the hardware for the £1bn GPS tagging scheme with the contract to be awarded by the end of last year.
But the justice ministry has now confirmed that it has started the procurement process again, claiming that Buddi has failed to show it could supply the technology to keep track of 20,000 offenders at one time within the required timetable.
Buddi insists that the justice ministry wanted a product that doesn't yet exist, demanded it hand over its intellectual property on its smart tags without any guarantee it would not be used by other companies, and refused to pay for any further development work.
Murray said the hi-tech tag that justice ministry officials want was a "figment of their imagination", adding that the chances of the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) now delivering on their end-of-year timetable was zero.
She said in a staff email, that the firm had told the MoJ they had experienced continued delays, immediate demands for lengthy documentation, and that they were not interested in paying for development work.
"They want the development of a product which does not yet exist," she said. "The MoJ have been an extraordinary diversion of much of our resources for two years now and this cannot continue, and we are excited for the prospects of the business now we are free of this unproductive and frustrating relationship."
The MoJ maintained that the collapse of talks would not produce fresh delays for a contract that was already 14 months behind schedule.
The ministry will ask 3M and Steatite, which missed out on the preferred bidder status last summer, to bid again under an accelerated procurement process. It is thought G4S, which has experience of GPS tags, and Serco have been banned for bidding for the tagging contract after the launch of a fraud investigation into their existing tagging contracts with the MoJ.
Chris Grayling is a bully by nature. That's not just my assessment from afar, but a view I've heard voiced by several unfortunate enough to have had dealings with him. At regular intervals on this blog the refrain has been 'why has there not been one Chief Officer willing to put their head above the parapet?' For a mature democracy the sad fact is that many are scared witless and have been ruthlessly silenced. 

Regular readers will recall last years infamous tweet by Heather Munro, CEO of London and by far the largest Probation Trust in England and Wales. By daring to challenge the 40% savings alleged for the London Community Payback contract with Serco, she was threatened with the sack. The CEO of West Yorkshire and CEO-designate of the new CRC was summarily un-designated immediately following her appearance on BBC 2's Newsnight programme. My strong suspicion is that all CEO's have been told in no uncertain terms that their pension and financial contract termination arrangements would be put in jeopardy by any outburst of TR opposition.

Yes it's disgraceful and reminds us all of those infamous gagging clauses rife within the NHS and together with the MoJ's refusal to publish the TR Risk Register, makes a complete mockery of the promise by prime minister David Cameron to ensure we have 'the most open and transparent government in the world'.  

In this article from the Independent of Chris Grayling we learn:-

One former civil servant says: “He is completely focused on his legacy, and appears to be conscious time is running out.”

As Joe Kuipers dryly observes:-

A legacy much like Beeching, who is also fondly remembered?

Indeed.

49 comments:

  1. We have a Government, "open and transparent" to the privileged few, and "closed and detached from the less privileged. A Government recklessly giving the privileged improved footings to build on while they still hold the reigns of power.

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  2. hopefully exiting CEOs will spill the beans

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  3. I think this should be added to Graylings legacy.
    It's been highlighted on this blog previously the very concerning rise in violence and murders taking place in our prison systems under Graylings watch.

    http://m.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-south-east-wales-26484071

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    1. A 22-year-old prisoner has been charged with murder following the death of an inmate at Cardiff jail.

      Darren Thomas, 45, was found by staff in his cell in the early hours of Thursday, the Ministry of Justice said.

      An ambulance was called but the prisoner was pronounced dead 35 minutes later.

      A man has been remanded in custody and will appear at Cardiff Magistrates' Court on Saturday.

      Jim Brown says:-

      I've been told of a recent seemingly unreported incident at HMP Oakwood where a man tied a ligature around his penis, cut it off and flushed it away.

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  4. Grayling is coming to the Gloucester office next week, 13 March during the afternoon. A rough 'time table' has been sent out and there is a 30 minute slot for Q&A will staff - the room they plan to hold the meeting holds approx 20 people and staff have been invited to email if they want to attend.

    No doubt SMT with give careful consideration as to who they select to attend, although they have said they would like union representatives to be present.

    Maybe useful if some of JB's readers can suggest some 'killer' questions that Grayling may find difficult to answer, i.e. not one that just allows him to trot out the usual crap that he does the rest of the time? He seems to be able to duck the 'why don't you publish the risk register' easily enough, and ignore all professional opinions against TR.

    Hopefully one person from GPT who is willing to ask the 'tough' questions will be able to be present.

    If Jim's Ok with it, I can post brief feed back of how it went.

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    1. Weare a compliant lot and sadly too scared to take on your killer question mission. Lets face it we are too scared...

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    2. Yeah, you can ask him how the devil he remains 'unpunched'.

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  5. Excellent idea! The more 'killer questions' the better because don't forget they read this down at the MoJ - Graylings minders included.

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    1. I am not sure whether a killer question will be enough to stop Grayling in his tracks – that would take a stake through his heart!

      Given that private companies are being paid billions by the government on behalf of the taxpayer to deliver public services, shouldn't these companies, in the interests of openness, transparency and accountability to the taxpayer be subject to the Freedom of Information Act?

      It may even help to curb fraudulent activities.

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    2. He has a heart?

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    3. My question: will you take personal responsibility for all SFOs that result from TR?

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    4. Oh I like that one! But it won't get past weasel management.

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    5. Can I suggest that whatever questions are asked, that a mobile phone or other device is set to record the discussion, and that a transcript is then supplied to us?

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    6. What about: "What's the point of this visit, when you clearly have no interest in listening to reason?"

      Or, "Would you mind if I completed this PCL-R on you?"

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    7. Can he explain how he expects TR to work with regards to IOM since the majority of IOM Probation Officers are allocated to CRC but most of IOM offenders are sifted into NPS. Seriously though IOM just doesn't work with TR and he knows this because lots of Chief Officers have told him. What will his response be when the most prolific offenders in the country go haywire? Even the rich can be victims of crime you know Chris. The CRC handbook highlights that CRCs don't have to engage with IOM if they don't want to - what fun!

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  6. Off topic but worth noting I feel.

    http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/node/20245

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    1. Privatisation hurtles on in the UK, regardless of the damage. Even David Cameron and George Osborne acknowledge that we have been badly served by the Private Finance Initiative (PFI), under which companies build hospitals, schools and prisons, then lease them back to the state, locking taxpayers into decades long maintenance contracts.

      In Yorkshire, to take one modest example, the cost of rebuilding Calderdale Royal Hospital is £65 million. The public will end up paying £773 million. For providing one extra grit bin (value £200) outsourcer Amey charges Birmingham Council £4,500, the BBC reported the other day.

      PFI will ultimately cost the taxpayer £300 billion, a Guardian investigation has revealed. "The irony is that we privatised the buildings but nationalised the debts. It's crazy," said Labour MP Margaret Hodge, who chairs the Public Accounts Committee that is supposed to guard taxpayers' interests.

      The outsourcers are making a mess of things. There's the contracting out of court translation services (Applied Language Solutions and then Capita), the army recruitment fiasco (Capita again), the degradation of asylum housing (Serco, G4S and Capita), the dangerous experiment that is Birmingham's Oakwood Prison (by G4S).

      Last week, disability minister Mike Penning had to make an 'unreserved apology' after news got out that the government's back-to-work assessors Atos had relentlessly pursued a woman in a coma.

      Having made what's known in the jargon as a total bollocks of the task, Atos is trying to negotiate an early release from its obligations, blaming death threats.

      Regardless of all that, the government has invited Atos to manage the extraction of our personal health data for commercial exploitation and medical research.

      Is there no better candidate than Atos? Apparently not.

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  7. Why? Why? Why? Oh Why - Only this morning, I have received some deeply sad news, that a friend and former colleague, at the age of 57 and retired only 6 months has become so ill that he is now in a Hospice. This is what he wanted to avoid, but is described as "sleepy but comfortable". He worked hard all his life in the coal mining industry, and like so many I have come to know and love, crossed over to public service much later in life. Frankly, it is traumatic, but in some ways he left our service before having to confront the bullyboy tactics of CG et al, that he previously experienced as a miner; and has been, in the last couple of months concerned only for himself, his family and his friends; as he hadn't the energy to spread it further afield. The extent of his illness came out of the blue and serves to remind me that we are only here for a short time and it is our individual and collective responsibility to care for each other, and to add our voice, and with all our being make a positive contribution to the world and leave a legacy of compassion and humanity. Professionally, Mr Grayling will not be able to do that.

    Have a good weekend and if anyone is in the York area, join the march and get out on the streets for 'public service'.

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    1. Very sorry to hear that 30 years in.

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  8. With regard to the weasel words of the Labour Party, the word that sticks out as particularly weasel is 'dangerous'. In effect Labour and the Tories agree that the supervison of dangerous ofenders should not be influenced by the profit motive. They both support the NPS – but it's okay for profit to be a factor in the supervison of all other offenders by private and third-sector companies. When it comes to a probation model Tories and Labour are on the same page.

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    1. I think it's true of the Lib Dems as well. So basically we've got to work on all three main parties before the next election and show all of them the error of their ways.

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    2. I think that, in the longer term, the big issue coming out of TR will be the sleight of hand the surrounds definitions of risk and dangerousnesd. When I qualified as a PO, I was not allowed to supervise sex offenders, lifers or child protection case until I had completed my first year in post. Now these cases are routinely supervised by PSOs. This is the live hand-grenade that the privateers are bidding for.

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    3. Sex offenders/lifers & most cp cases not supervised by PSOs in my area.We hung onto role boundaries as much as we could and was only in last 3-4 yrs that any Tier 3 went to PSOs.As soon as evidence of complexity/risk have to liaise with SPO to check if should transfer to a PO.However we seem to be in minority. Complexity and volatility are I think more day to day issues that generate problems,distress and damage than "dangerousness"

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  9. I intend to make a formal complaint to The Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman about the MOJ, the website states:
    "We can investigate complaints about the administrative actions of a wide range of government departments and other public organisations, listed below, or the actions of organisations acting on their behalf."
    I suggest colleagues consider following my actions given the administrative actions of the MOJ have left me without a valid job description and I am unclear if in effect I have been made redundant by dissolving my employer (Probation Trust) and leaving me without any information as to who my new employer will be. Furthermore, it appears the MOJ has failed to consult my recognised Trade Union appropriately and in doing so has failed to provide me with the information required in order for me to make an informed decision under the staff transfer process. I am sure by visiting the website, each and every one of us ( and our unions) can find a valid concern about which to make a formal complaint. Furthermore my Trust refused to accept my grievance and I intend to complain about this too. Anyone care to join me ???
    http://www.ombudsman.org.uk/make-a-complaint/how-to-complain
    they can be telephoned for guidance on 0345 015 4033

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    1. Question for Grayling: How will SFOs be notified in future? My guess is that as the majority of cases arise out of the low to medium group, the current procedure will be dropped, relevant individuals hurriedly transferred to NPS and everything swept under the carpet along with all the other crap to protect private interests and reputations.

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    2. It will be as most are notified now. Picked up by Court staff a the time of the first hearing...staff who in the future will be NPS.

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    3. ombudsman idea fantastic. I will join you.Do you have a telephone number?

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  10. Killer question for Chris; How can publishing the risk register be seen as detrimental to the TR plan and....
    Is he confident that he has the full backing of the Prime Minister with the TR agenda?

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    1. The last one is a brilliant question and one that needs raising at the highest level.

      The Tories are aware that they have little chance of winning the next election (they did not even win this one), and in my mind are 'salting the earth' by either destroying or making it extremely difficult to 'plant' for the next government. This in my mind makes them EXTREMELY dangerous people who morals and scruples are highly questionable!
      However, it also raise a question about who can we vote in next. The two other 'main' parties are hopelessly adrift with policies and infighting, rudderless would be an apt description. In addition, and certainly the Labour Party, have shown to he as equally useless when they are in power. It is due to this that I have made a decision to vote UKIP. Might as well give them a go as I do not think they can do any worse and it might just end up as a shot across the bows of the other parties and force them to get their act together!

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    2. I would think very carefully before voting UKIP. They get a lot of favourable media coverage because of Nigel Farage's blokeishness, but he's just as much in favour of small state neo-liberalism as the Coalition and Blairite Labour. And the less support that his sexist, xenophobic and racist fellow party members get, the better as far as I'm concerned.

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    3. I second this. Vote for one of the more mainstream racist, sexist and xenophobic parties instead; at least you know what you will be getting.

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  11. Edward Snowdon8 March 2014 at 15:17

    Use this link if you want to whistle blow!!

    http://order-order.com/2014/03/07/guidos-guide-to-leaking/

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  12. http://order-order.com/2014/03/07/guidos-guide-to-leaking/
    Probation staff get ready to whistle blow. What's happening in your Trust, name and shame. If you work for a bidder and want to highlight dodgy dealings or a civil servant come on tell your story. It's all about being true to your principles

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    1. Edward Snowdon's aunt8 March 2014 at 16:02

      I would imagine that given the high number of senior managers who are leaving, there will be some interesting emails/correspondences that will pop up on here as well as Guido's Blog.

      There are going to be some very awkward questions being asked in both the MoJ and HoP in the very near future.

      Any odds on who the first Minister to go will be???

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    2. There are better alternatives than the right-wing Guido's blog - Political Scrapbook would be my choice.

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  13. I was at the Birmingham SGM. I was taken by the information that once a preferred bidder is decided upon, there is then a lengthy period during which the MoJ and the bidder agree the detail of the contract. If the bidder isn't happy they can pull out. This eventuality would devastate TR plans as there would be no time for MoJ to re-engage other bidders in a new procurement timetable. The SGM also heard that the MoJ have trouble managing even one of these processes, but with TR they will be trying to manage 31 simultaneously. What really are the chances of 31 preferred bidders all being satisfied with their contract negotiations. As you have read Biddi have just exited their preferred bidder negotiations. Either the MoJ will have to capitulate to preferred bidder demands, or some of these contracts will not be signed. My suspicion is that, if we even get that far, a majority of the contracts will not be signed, as preferred bidders will withdraw when the detailed negotiations reveal even more of the sham that CG is trying to sell them. And, I think any mutual that gets to this point of being a preferred bidder will be faced with a very strange dilemma - sign up to a disastrous contract, or let it all fail. Let's just think about that for a while........

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    1. An insider tells me that some of these companies get a boost to share price when they are awarded preferred bidder status, because it reflects as potentially secured growth. But if they pull out there usually isn't the same amount of fall in share price. This means that walking away when they are a preferred bidder isn't such a bad thing and can show shareholders that they won't take unnecessary risks. It also gives them a strong hand in the negotiations, but one they have to be careful not to throw in in case they get a reputation for choking on contracts by commissioners

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    2. Isn't capitalism great?! What a wheeze.

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  14. Indeed, I can see the situation whereby NAPO would campaign against Probation mutuals who are given preferred bidder status. What a weird world of TR we live in.

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  15. My biggest worry is that probation mutuals who are leading this venture by sold out managers will collude with TR. In the end these are the folks who will undermine our values and our probation reputation.

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  16. Check out who Lockheed Martin are and what their main interest in business involves:

    http://www.lockheedmartin.co.uk/uk/what-we-do/products.html

    ANARCHIST
    @AnarchistPO

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  17. Can anyone confirm that the Cumbria/Lancashire mutual has advertised for a seconded SPO,PO and PSO to help them plan their bid? If this is true what happened to the ethical wall so beloved by the architects of TR??

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    1. Yup but known as team manager and offender manager at PO grade, not PSO grade. Sounds like a freeride for a few months until Sodexo take the reins, might make a bid for it.

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    2. Sodexo in North East is recruiting "consultants" at rates varying between £100 and £500 per day. Successful applicants include staff already made redundant by prisons including a former resettlement manager from Holme House prison who used to work for Durham probation as a manager and staff formerly employed at HMP Acklington ( now run by Sodexo as HMP Northumberland). It is Sodexo who is the main bidder for the whole of the North and they are amassing information to allow them to do this. It makes to staff mutuals look amateur but given Durham Tees Valley will remain it's own CPA might this be the one where a staff mutual (powerfully backed by Sir Peter Vardy and Local Authorities/PCC) is allowed to succeed to demonstrate Grayling's original vision? Of course, it could then be swallowed up by Sodexo in the second phase...... This stuff is happening everywhere now, what do we all know??

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  18. Just a quickie, what happens if West Yorks Mutual (bidding for both West and South Yorks) wins only South Yorks ? ! !

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  19. Join the civil service and earn half what you would in the private sector

    http://www.theguardian.com/public-leaders-network/2014/mar/05/civil-service-earn-half-private-sector

    Join the civil service and earn half what you would in the private sector
    Ministry of Defence's failure to recruit specialists due to low pay is a sign of an impending talent crisis in the public sector

    Figures from Hay Group show the total package including benefits for senior civil servants is worth about half what the private sector offers. Photograph: David Sillitoe for the Guardian
    Civil service pay has been a problem for years – it is just not discussed much in public. But uncompetitive pay hit the spotlight last week when the Ministry of Defence (MoD) announced that civil service pay is too low to attract the right people for some of its most critical roles, so jobs are being outsourced to more expensive consultants. The department has asked for a change in Treasury rules on pay.

    Compared with the private sector, civil service pay for professionals and senior managers is low – and has fallen further back since 2010, as public sector pay has mostly been frozen and bonuses for civil servants reduced. Relatively low pay and a secure pension may be enough for civil servants who want a lifelong career, but it is less suitable for people who move between employers with skills that are in demand right across the economy.

    The MoD could pay market supplements to attract or retain people if the gap between their standard offer and the private sector was easy to bridge. But it isn't. Hay Group figures show the extent of the problem for the beginning of the senior civil service, a level where lots of major projects are run and substantial procurement, technical and commercial expertise is needed. Median civil service pay for those jobs is about two-thirds of the mid market level for the private sector; total cash (basic pay plus annual bonuses) is about 55%; and the total package including benefits is worth about half what the private sector offers.

    In addition, the number and range of jobs where there is a competitive problem is significant and growing. So we are in the bizarre position where the pay system prevents recruitment and retention of important skills, meaning government departments and agencies have to buy in contractors to fill the gap, at a price far higher than it would take to employ them. And in the absence of an employed skills base, those departments will be unable to develop talent for the future.

    This seems a perverse policy. The civil service must be able to use money in a different way – to spend more on pay in order to save on overall expenditure. It will not be easy: flexibility of this kind has to be managed carefully to deliver value for money; and creating pay differences between people based on specific skills, on whether they were external hires or internally promoted from within, or on their track record, will create deep discomfort in public services.

    Making targeted changes to the system will also raise two other, more fundamental questions. First, if the civil service increasingly needs people to contribute to a major project over a period of years and then move on to other employment, why does it still insist on a final salary pension scheme more suited to a stable, lifelong career with one organisation? Civil service pensions have been reduced in value in recent years but are still worth 25-30% on top of salary. It would be possible to provide a defined contribution pension, at least in some cases, and use the spare cash to make pay more attractive.

    Second, if civil service pay is so far behind the wider market at middle and senior levels, shouldn't it be increased? This is a sensitive issue and no government would want to be associated with increasing public sector pay. But if we want central government to be run both efficiently and well – rather than just cheaply – sooner or later, more fundamental reform will have to be considered.

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  20. "Barristers took to streets and had their say earlier this week & now Probation Officers have an opportunity to have their say at the end of this month"

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  21. Question for CG. Why did max chambers of policy exchange say, at the justice select committee hearing, that the purpose of TR was to introduce a market to the CJS?

    Its in the minutes. No one followed up properly. We have never had this given as a reason for reform?

    Also - how much has tr cost so far? Could have paid for trusts to supervise under 12 monthers with that.

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  22. This is an intresting blog that you have posted, you shares a lot of things about Service Now Events, Service Now Basics and Service Integration Management. Which are very informative for us. Thanks

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