According to a report in yesterday’s Birmingham Mail no less than 50 illegal workers were caught in a swoop at Birmingham City Council.
This investigation was called for after earlier this year one Ugandan employee, an illegal immigrant, managed to steal in excess of £1million from the council’s social services department, buying himself a flash new car and five houses.
Although 50 were caught as a result of recent council action, others seemed to have slipped through the net as several employees left of their own accord once news of the crackdown spread.
That so many illegal workers have managed to gain employment at Birmingham City Council really does reveal the poor quality screening process in place which has now resulted in expensive investigations and no doubt prosecutions, not to mention the cost to taxpayers of any stolen money or goods as in the above instance. A thorough vetting and interview process would surely have avoided this expensive fiasco?
Unfortunately, illegal immigrants are not the only cause of Birmingham City Council’s staffing woes. According to the same report eleven officials had to be sacked for downloading pornography and 25 were handed disciplinary warnings. These were amongst the 75 employees whose “net visits pointed to serious internet misuse”. Do these people not have managers? Are they not monitored? It’s sad that this sort of information has to been thrown up by a swoop.
There’s more. One council official was shown the door for being on long term sick, whilst all the time working full-time for another local authority. Unbelievable.
The cherry on top comes in the form of the comment given to the paper by one of the investigators:
"We also found employees whose multiple employments resulted in poor timekeeping and a failure to adequately discharge their duties, but the action we were able to take was limited due to poor timekeeping records - a serious issue we continue to raise with managers."
So this is what local residents are paying for? A complete free for all. Poor timekeeping, bad management, abuse of the internet (also amounting to time wasting), unsuitable employees, illegal employees, absent employees, theft that goes unnoticed until it escalates to a ridiculous level, and lamentable employee screening.
The fact is that Birmingham City Council can’t keep on top of who is coming and going, what they’re background is and how they are behaving in the workplace because it is just too big and unwieldy. The need for any such probing investigations could be eliminated if the council were to slim down and improve lines of communication rather than adding to their endlessly expanding and increasingly untrustworthy bands of bureaucrats.
Over the past few years Birmingham City Council has grown and grown and it seems that the taxpayer is paying for more than just their salaries. In an environment where management are consistently overlooking these abuses there is a real need to reassess, and that doesn’t mean throwing good money after bad and hiring more bureaucrats, but truly cutting back with a view to improving the quality of services through streamlining and efficiency.