Another day, another good spot from one of our activists who noticed this on a local news website. It seems that public sector workers in Gloucestershire are quite literally being rewarded with sweets and chocolate for doing their jobs properly!
According to the article, councils and government bodies in the county have spent no less than £71,626 on goodies for staff in the last three years.
Cotswold District Council handed out chocolate in return for ‘green’ behaviour and defended itself saying:
"Giving away the odd free gift to staff members is a very effective means of encouraging them to be more eco-aware on a permanent basis, and is widely practised in organisations across the UK.
"Turning off one single computer overnight can save £10 a year and, given the number of terminals at the council, we estimate that this simple action could save us almost £3,000 annually – £50 for chocolates out of a £500 sustainability budget seems a small price to pay to aim for an achievement of this scale."
But why can’t employees just turn their computers off at night after being asked, rather than having to be coaxed into doing so with treats like children? Aren’t these professional people, commanding decent salaries who are responsible for the running of local government?
The article continues:
“Cheltenham Borough Council was the most free-spending authority in the county, splashing out £18,334 on gifts and initiatives since 2007.
As well as buying chocolates for staff, Cotswold District Council spent £1,695 on caps, bags and water bottles to give to teenagers during its Summer off the Streets campaign last year. The Government Office for the South West has splashed out £2,713 since 2007, including £105 on relaxation therapies for its stressed staff.
The South West Regional Development Agency spent £8,153 over the same period, mostly on pens and London 2012 Olympic flags to give away.
Tewkesbury Borough Council shelled out £9,408, including £4,224 on trolley coins and fridge magnets and £1,271 on T-shirts and badges for an anti-shoplifting campaign”.
Of course, various spokespeople responded saying that this expenditure represented good publicity for the council, or just small incentives for staff, but the facts are, people can’t choose who provides their services so publicity really just amounts to spin, and employees should be able to perform the jobs they’re paid to do without taxpayer-funded relaxation therapy and chocolate.
What’s more, where’s the proof that these initiatives even worked? Were the ‘Summer off the Streets’ campaign caps successful in keeping teenagers off the streets? Did Tewkesbury’s t-shirts and badges discourage shoplifting and have an impact on crime figures? Who in the South West still waves their London 2012 flag and to what ends? The spokespeople are noticeably silent on these matters...
But then does it really matter when it’s nobody’s money?