Wednesday, 23 December 2009
Times are hard. Many people who were working this time last year in shops, factories, warehouses, even banks and insurance offices, and who are now on the dole know this. Many people being asked to reduce their hours or take unpaid leave just to keep their company afloat know this, and goodness knows poor soldiers out in Afghanistan on around £20,000 a year for risking life and limb on our behalf know this.
Why then is it that the Daily Telegraph is reporting that £130 million in bonuses has been paid out to Civil Servants in the last year? Some senior civil servants are getting as much as £50,000 in bonus payouts - twice as much as the threshold of the bankers’ bonus tax that Alistair Darling announced recently that he was levying on the City.
The new bonus figures will come as an embarrassment to Gordon Brown who recently talked about a “culture of excess” in some parts of the public sector and promised to bring about a new era of pay restraint in public bodies. He vowed to cut £100 million a year from the salaries of senior civil servants. Another Gordon Brown promise gone west?
The Cabinet Office confirmed that the bonuses relate, in the main, to the senior levels of the civil service, the “upper-middle management and above”. Well, I’d never have guessed, the people who make the decisions about bonuses are the ones that get them. The highest-spending department was the Ministry of Defence, while the Department for Work and Pensions paid out more than £23 million with a further £6 million allocated for in-year rewards. The Department for Transport set aside £12 million for bonus payments and the Foreign Office spent £7.6 million rewarding staff. One senior civil servant at the Department of Health received a payment of £49,004.
The bonuses are officially termed "non-consolidated performance payments". Ministers have sought to justify them by saying they were to reward "exceptional" performance and link pay to delivery across the year.
You wouldn’t mind so terribly much if any of these departments was working well, or even slightly efficiently. The Ministry of Defence has been criticized over and over again for deficiencies in the way it handles procurement and logistics among other things, for the troops in Afghanistan; the Dept of Work and Pensions seems almost totally incapable of getting people back to work; the Dept of Transport falls apart at the mere mention of snow. Excellent performance my posterior!
How much longer can we tolerate this nonsense?