I think I have the solution to the recession and our plunging pound: why don’t we start exporting the services of our quangocrats and government officials?
Just think how our foreign earnings would bulge if our diversity officers and strategic delivery managers went and sold their expertise to all those poorly-managed foreign countries.
I’ve even been playing around with a possible name and slogan for the company: “Britocrat – supplying British administration and know-how around the world.”
There is one possible weakness with my plan – I haven’t yet undertaken any market research. I’m not altogether sure that the food hygiene department in Paris will really want to have the noses of British health and safety officers sniffing the city’s cheeses.
Nor whether the children’s services department in Berlin will really want to employ senior social workers from Haringey.
But, at the least, the exercise will help us assess whether public servants in Britain are fairly paid. Just imagine: Britocrat sends the new head of Haringey’s children’s services abroad to tout his services – a snip at £200,000 a year – and Berliners are once again able to sleep soundly in their beds knowing that, for a measly sum, the city’s children will be as safe as Haringey’s children.
The trouble is, we have no idea of the true value of our public servants because there exists no international market in their services. Private industry knows all too well what it is worth: if it charges too much or makes goods that appear shoddy by international comparison, it will swiftly be driven out of business.
Unfortunately, we don’t have the same choice as taxpayers that we do as consumers. Short of moving abroad, we can’t say: “I’m so fed up with all these rats, let’s have that German council emptying our bins and sweeping our streets in future.”
Our bureaucrats love to talk up their salaries by comparing themselves to the private sector, and forever try to convince us that they could be earning more in industry. But, while they want to share in the bounty of the good times, have you noticed how they don’t expect to suffer their share of pain in the bad times?
There can hardly be a private sector worker in the country who is not currently worried about their job. Yet, you’d hardly detect any economic pain from studying the ads for public sector jobs. The appointment of the new head of children’s services at Haringey is a case in point: the salary of £200,000 is double that paid to Sharon Shoesmith, the previous holder of the post, who resigned after her department’s failure to protect Baby P.
How many posts in failing private sector companies have seen pay doubled over the past three months?
The idea that council employees could get better-paid jobs in the private sector is farcical. If anyone from Haringey social services turned up for an interview at a private company, they wouldn’t even be trusted to run the crèche.
Straight salary comparisons between public and private sector workers are looking increasingly inapt when a vast gulf is emerging between the value of their respective pension arrangements.
With investments shattered, private sector workers can look forward to poverty in retirement, while public sector employees continue to enjoy armour-plated pensions based on their final salaries.
The CBI says that the burden of funding public sector pensions is now £915bn, making Brown’s economic bail-out plans look like small change.
I’ve changed my mind. Let’s not bother trying to sell Britocrat’s services overseas. Let’s just save a fortune by outsourcing local government to the Philippines.
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