Thursday, 27 October 2011


For supposedly decent, fair people who form the government of the UK, the Tories have some very strange friends, not least among which is a man who goes by the name of Adrian Beecroft, a multimillionaire venture capitalist who has some pretty dodgy businesses. 

Mr Beecroft (above) has given more than half a million pounds to the Conservatives under Cameron, which, I suppose, makes him quite a good friend of the prime minister. 

Recently Beecroft  was asked by Steve Hilton (below left), the prime minister's policy tsar, to produce a report with some "blue sky thinking" (always a dubious process) on employment law. And indeed he has obliged...although not too many employees would consider the skies to be particularly blue if much of what he has proposed were to be approved.

One of Beecroft's companies, "" (classy name for a company that makes pay cheque loans to poor people) was found by "Which" to have quoted £36.72 on a one month loan of £100. That's an interest rate of 4,394%. That might give you some idea of what kind of a bloke he is before we even start on the details of the report.

One of Mr Wonga Beecroft's suggestions is that companies should be able to sack under performing employees. 

Not unreasonable, I thought when I read it. But can't they already do that?  

Oh yes, they can and indeed, I have. 

The thing is that Wongaman wants to be able to do it with no explanation, as in:

"Right you, clear your desk and get out within 10 minutes." 


"Because I say so".

Imagine how that could be abused...

The Tories have already doubled the time people must work before they can take an employer to a tribunal for unfair dismissal, although in my opinion an unfair dismissal is an unfair dismissal regardless how long you've been with the company. But now Big Chief Wonga suggests that the government should get rid of tribunals all together. Not only that but they should cut back on flexi hours; get rid of parental leave and change maternity leave to make things easier for firms. 

Well, everyone to their own ideas, and I've only had experience of the flexi-time issue, but I found that the scheme which I devised and implemented for the company I worked at, boosted productivity. 

But it seems that he has included anything that will make more money for the likes of Wonga Beecroft.

And that's not the only part of governance that Beecroft has put his thumb in. He has advised even deeper cuts in National Health spending (clearly with his fortune he goes private, so it won't be affecting him), and has advised that research support for charities such as Cancer Research is unaffordable. (He must think he won't need that either!!! a dangerous presumption to make.) It probably won't surprise you to know that some of the companies he is involved in stand to make a very considerable amount from the semi privatisation of health care in England.

I wonder if Mr Beeswax has advised No 10 that every company should do as his Apax company does, and register itself in the Cayman Islands, where the corporation tax is 0%?

Incidentally, the final photograph has no connection to the story at all. I found it while looking for something else and thought it was too good not to use, and try though I could, I couldn't weave the House Elf into the post...


  1. Just wrote a post on that for tomorrow CH

  2. How lovely for all the millionaires but more gray sky thinking for the rest of us mere mortals. The nasty party are well and truly back eh. Every little helps and as long as the British and Scottish media insist on reporting on everything that happens in England as if it happened here as well it should boost the cause of independence no end.

  3. Occupy London protest issues demands to democratise City of London

    Glasman said that St Paul's Cross was the site of the most ancient known democratic practice in the UK and it was the most appropriate spot to make a claim for the extension of citizenship.

    "By declaring that the point of their protest is the democratisation of London the meaning of the occupation is transformed. It opens a prospect for civic renewal and the challenging of unaccountable power elites.

    "The protesters have stumbled upon the source of financial power within the British state. This could get interesting," he added.

  4. One thing I have been told my mother (manager) is just how difficult it is to remove employees.

    Sacking is so impossible nowadays, managers simply either 'manage' them out of their firm/business/department or actually transfer them into someone else jurisdiction.

    Either way, you still have an under performing employee who is causing problems.

    I totally understand however the need to ensure workers rights, especially of appeal (of a sacking). But really, there has to be room to reinvestigate the policies applied in this area.

  5. He sounds like a....well a complete Wonga, Munguin.

  6. Yes CH. I think it will get interesting. And as long as the Tories keep fielding ignorant idiots like this stupid woman to stoke the flames, it should keep people's support.

    What was it Jesus did in the temple with the money changers and lenders?

    Oh yes, he didn't open a shop and a cafe. No he threw the buggers out.

    Top marks then to the guy who has resigned because his faith demands that he support the protesters rather than the bead counters in St Paul's.

  7. Well Dean. It's not as easy as pie, but you have to manage the situation. You have to ensure that you have done everything that you can to train the person, and keep a record of your meetings with him/her. After 3 warnings you can dismiss them.

    But we live in a world of people, Dean. Sometimes an employee will not be working as well as he did, because he is ill, and worried, or his partner, child, or whatever is ill, or his relationship is having trouble. Surely we should try to help people through these things.

    It's easier to sack people here than anywhere else in Europe.

    But I agree with you. You have to be able to sack people if they can't do the job. And let's face it you can.

    You just can't do it willy nilly like they would like to do at "", which has been condemned for its practices from as far apart as The Harvard Review, (which called it utterly ethically bankrupt) and the Church of Scotland.

  8. A company like Wonga would once have been classed as a back street money lender and its owner would have been unlikely to have been received in polite society. So, I suppose Mr. Beecroft's exalted position is a sort of triumph for today's egalitarianism.

    Having been an employer, I have some sympathy with firms stuck with under-performing employees. As I have got older, I notice that my work rate and ability to do two or three things at once have declined considerably. I forget things more often. Frankly, I would now be pretty hopeless in a full-time, high pressure job.

    Now that "ageism" is a crime, how could I get rid of an older employee who is no longer up to the job? It's not a situation which anyone approaches lightly, particularly with people you have known for a long time. When people retired at a set age it was easier and you could always offer part time or extended contracts to people with valuable experience. Some liked to be asked, others couldn't wait for freedom. But in today's situation with private occupational pension schemes (including my own) not keeping up with inflation, I can well understand that someone would want to hold on to full time employment for longer.

  9. "You have to be able to sack people if they can't do the job. And let's face it you can."

    With respect Tris, in Britain, you very nearly can't due to the laws.

    Lets take an example in an industry I am familiar with. You have a carehome worker who isn't up to the job. This poses risks to the quality of care for the residents.

    Now, by the law as it stands right now, you cannot fire that person for incompetence or failure to do their duties unless:
    a) you give them at least 3 supervisions (which can take months each time)
    b) you give them a supervision (requiring fullest documented paperwork to back up every single claim you make against them, including the previous supervisions
    c) they can appeal
    d) they can appeal again
    e) and again (you get the idea)

    And unless you have EVERYTHING documented down, in a process which frankly can take just shy of a full year, they stay and the manager loses their job instead.

    Now, you see why I cannot agree with you when you claim that 'yes you can fire people'. That, at least in the carehome industry simply isn't true. And this in turn risks the fight for improved quality and standards for our old people.

  10. sorry point 'b' isn't supervision but disciplinary

  11. Dean.

    Well, I've not had too much difficulty...although I've never been involved with militant workers.

    I admit that there is a lot of work in it, but the problem is that if you are going to sack someone, a life changing action (ie the person has no job, and can't get a reference and may not be able therefore to get another job...with all the attendant problems like being chucked out of their home...etc) you have to make sure that it can't be done on a whim.

    Good recruitment, good training and good supervision can overcome most of these problems.

    The trouble is that so few managers have much of an idea about recruitment, or interviewing, and take a very piecemeal approach to training.

    What we don't want is a manager that has recruited the wrong person for whatever reason, trained them badly, and taken a dislike to them, firing them without any excuse.

    But yes, I understand what you are saying. It's time consuming. But then many things in management are.

  12. Mr S.

    I think that the Wonga man is invited into what passes for polite society because he gives quite a considerable amount of money to Mr Cameron. You can buy anything if you have enough money. And I'm afraid it was ever thus.

    I take your point about older workers. It was always like that though. Older guys contributed a bit less, but what they lacked in speed and rate of production they often make up with experience.

    People accepted that. Now managers expect everyone to work to target.

    I'd be very careful before I employed an older person for that reason. I guess that in the old days, people had often been with the company wince they were 14, and when they got to 60, slowed down and began to forget where they'd left their tools, it was excused. :)

    And I agree. Pensions were ruined by Gordon Brown. State pensions have not made up the difference, and savings decrease in value by a very considerable amount every year, so you have no choice but work until you can work no more... if you can find work.

    What a wonderful set of islands we live in.