The French government yesterday unveiled its budget for 2008. Public spending is to be frozen in real terms and taxes will be cut by €9 billion, or £6.3 billion, including €5.1 billion to exempt overtime from tax and social charges.
The ususal critics have been lined up to say that this is fiscally irresponsible because the deficit is projected to remain around the same as this year, but it might be more prudent to wait for the actual results, which are likely to be more favourable than a static forecast would show. Marginal changes don’t come much better than exempting all overtime from all taxes.
If only we had such bold, fresh thinking from our politicians in Westminster. If they are going to freeze public spending in France and return all the money saved to taxpayers, why can’t they do the same here!?
Our non-job of the week is yet again another politically correct post in local government the British people could easily live without. Rather than putting our taxes to essential services, Lincolnshire County Council want not one but TWO – yes, Laurel and Hardy – diversity officers for its public sector pay roll.
If that wasn’t an incentive enough for Guardian readers, the advert also explains how the County Council is negotiating a new pay grade, hiking the salaries of each of these non-jobs to £27,000 a piece.
So, our non-jobs of the week from Lincolnshire County Council:
“2 Diversity Officers
£23,164 – £26,928
1. PURPOSE OF JOB:
The postholder is responsible for leading on all aspects of policy advice, performance and monitoring in respect of the promotion and development of equality and diversity within their respective directorates.
2. MAIN RESPONSIBILITIES, TASKS & DUTIES
i. To be the lead officer providing advice and guidance to designated directorates on meeting their responsibilities under the Corporate Equality Policy and Scheme.
ii. To work closely with managers and employees within designated directorates, and external stakeholders, to ensure delivery of key objectives and targets arising from the Corporate Equality Policy and Scheme.
iii. To lead directorate steering groups, providing guidance and ensuring delivery of key messages and targets.
iv. To manage directorate information required for assessment of the Equality Standard for Local Government and publication of the Corporate Equality Scheme, and others as required by legislation.
v. To develop new policies and systems within their directorates on existing and emerging areas of equality and diversity legislation and best practice.
vi. To manage and develop projects that achieve results/improve performance.
vii. To facilitate relevant learning and development opportunities within directorates, whether for managers, employees, elected members, trades unions, consultants and contractors.
viii To provide leadership and support to internal and external networks that promote and develop partnership working and community involvement in order to promote equality and celebrate diversity.
ix. To provide advice and guidance on relevant policy, research and analysis, including trends, statistics and demographic information.
x. To help maintain a high quality, regularly updated and consistent corporate equality website.
xi To represent the Diversity Manager in appropriate meetings and events, as directed.”
Value for money? Nah! So let Lincolnshire’s taxpayers know they are being ripped off!
The Lincolnshire Echo
Brayford Wharf East,
Email: [email protected]
The Lincolnshire Free Press
Email: [email protected]
If you know of any other popular local newspapers, then do post them in the comments section.
Keep up the fight, folks!
The Telegraph reports that today Ed Balls will announce a replacement for the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority (QCA) that sets both the curriculum and the tests:
"He said: "There is an inherent conflict of interest
in having one body that is both developing the curriculum and keeping
the curriculum up to date with the modern needs of employers and
learning, and at the same time having set the curriculum and set the
tests, also reporting after the fact that standards have been
"And while I think the QCA has tried
really hard to be robust and independent I just think that if you have
an organisation with different functions that look like they conflict,
you aren’t going to win the highest level of public confidence.
"And that is why I think now is the right time to address this issue."
What’s interesting is that the replacement will still have its senior officers appointed by ministers. Those setting the exams will still owe their position to political favour. Political priorities are the root cause of problems with grade inflation. It might have been worth thinking about a system that is, instead, under the control of those who rely on exam results to differentiate between students – perhaps universities as Jamie Whyte proposed in the Times.
"A private sector company has been granted the power to award degrees for the first time, provoking complaints about the "privatisation" of education.
The news that a subsidiary of education company BPP has been given the go-ahead also suggests that universities could face stiff competition as the private sector moves in on their turf."
Private universities are nothing new, whether the great American institutions or Buckingham University here in the UK, but now the BPP College of Professional Studies has become the first company to gain the power to offer degrees. This expansion of a university system accountable to the students who attend universities rather than politicians in Whitehall has to be a good thing. It might force public universities to up their game as well.
The Telegraph reports that the Unite union, which represents 12,000 Royal Mail managers, is threatening strike action over Christmas. They are protesting plans to end the company’s final salary pension scheme and replace it with a career average scheme.
Final salary schemes are in retreat across the economy as firms try to avoid the financial risk of massive future bills. With people living longer company pensions just can’t be as generous without putting firms, and future employees’ well-being, at risk. Most private sector firms are biting the bullet and closing final-salary pension schemes, limiting current and future employees’ benefits. The Royal Mail managers expect that the public sector is different – that politicians will prefer writing a big cheque at the taxpayers’ expense to the PR risks of dealing with a strike.
There’s another side to this story. Next time someone tells you that we can’t have the private sector provide public services because that will undermine the ‘public service ethos’ think of cases like this. If workers in the public sector are kindly, self-sacrificing sorts, better people than you or me, why are they prepared to play the Grinch and threaten to ruin so many children’s Christmas?