Matthew Parris

Here’s what’s wrong with the ‘public sector ethos’

It is a cultural meme that public service workers have a calling rather than just a job, and that money shouldn’t loom large

14 November 2015

9:00 AM

14 November 2015

9:00 AM

An infuriating benefit of readers’ online comments beneath the efforts of a columnist like me is that as you read the responses an understanding dawns of the column you ought to have written.

Some readers are stupid, unpleasant or obsessive; but most are not. As you learn their reactions you see where your argument was not clear, where you were short of information, and where you were simply wrong. But more than that, you sometimes tumble for the first time to where the nub of a problem that perhaps you danced around may lie.

Last Saturday I wrote for the Times about the self-righteousness of spokesmen for public services threatened by government cuts; about veiled threats by the police to stop policing, and by barristers enraged by cuts to legal aid. I wrote, too, about the British Medical Association’s shroud-waving. My argument was that lots of people, employees in both the public and the private sector, provide services that are useful or even essential to the public, and that those who work in the public sector should claim no special moral right to be spared the consequences of austerity.

The column drew a big response — impassioned both for and against my case. As I read on over the weekend, the uncomfortable realisation dawned that the root of the problem was something Conservatives like me are rather supposed to approve of and are inclined to pray in aid of our case. It’s called ‘the public service ethos’.

The idea is variously expressed. We talk about the public service ‘ideal’; the special sense of duty that (we suggest) ought to actuate teachers, nurses, and all who work for the public good. We insinuate that theirs is a calling rather than just a job; that money shouldn’t loom large among their ambitions; that feelings of responsibility to those who depend on their work should be more highly developed among them than among those employed in profit-making organisations; indeed that ‘profit’ is almost a dirty word in their line of business. I’ve noticed in London Underground carriages an advertisement for Transport for London whose message is that TfL is not a profit-making outfit — the implication being that we ought therefore to admire its endeavours more. And this from a Conservative Mayor of London.


As with the organisation, so with those who serve it: drivers of not-for-profit Tube trains, nurses in NHS hospitals, teachers in state schools, barristers taking briefs from legal-aid defendants, are thought to inhabit a subtly but distinctly higher moral plane than their equivalents in (say) private hospitals, airlines or independent schools. They begin to believe it of themselves.

So when Conservative politicians inveigh against junior doctors who might, by striking, ‘put patients’ lives at risk’; or firemen or ambulance men whose industrial action might place ordinary citizens in jeopardy, or RMT members who by bringing the railways to a halt might inconvenience members of the travelling public, they are feeding the cultural meme that those who provide public services have special moral responsibilities to their customers. They are also (perhaps unwittingly) contributing to the idea that for public sector workers, virtue is, if not entirely its own reward, at least a reward that compensates for somewhat lower wages.

Were I a Marxist, I would argue that capitalist society has invented the idea of the public service ethos in order to get more out of workers for lower wages. Not being a Marxist, I confine myself to remarking that this paternalistic view of the state sector tends to substitute a sense of duty for the desire to enrich yourself; a substitution that’s highly convenient to the employer.

Time and again in the online comments for my column, contributors who work in the public sector have been assuring their readers that they embarked on their careers with the ideal of service, rather than money, foremost in their minds. And can you blame them? Isn’t this what our culture has been teaching them? Isn’t this the reward that we’ve suggested they should prefer to higher wages?

Perhaps, then, we should think again before tut-tutting when junior doctors, hospital workers and schoolteachers wag their fingers at Tory ministers and paint horrifying pictures of the suffering the public they serve will endure if this or that proposed cut goes ahead. Have we not fed that mentality by suggesting that they shouldn’t be in it for themselves, but for those who depend on them?

I wonder whether the ‘public service ethos’ does more harm than good. Used, variously, as an argument against trying to measure the value of public sector activity (‘these things can’t expressed in crude figures’), trying to impose efficiency reforms (‘bean-counters can’t understand the value of what we do’) and against virtually any cuts to any public service at all (‘we’re not doing this for profit but because we know people need us’), a central belief in many public servants’ minds is that they are working for the greater good and have no vested interests of their own, and are therefore above the selfish arguments of the rest of us. This poisons rational consideration of costs and benefits in the public sector.

Anyone who has worked in a charity will be familiar with the rancid element that can be introduced into any co-operative endeavour by the consciousness of every comrade that he or she doing this for love, not money. God spare those who want to get things done efficiently from the spirit of voluntarism. The public service ideal conveys a subtle hint of voluntarism, encouraging a sense of grievance that workers’ efforts are not properly appreciated or supported — a grievance writ large, for example, among the teachers’ unions.

Samuel Johnson remarked that no man was more innocently employed than when making money. Perhaps he overstated; but a weekend spent in the (virtual) company of public sector workers who feel the world misunderstands and undervalues them has left me close to recommending this mission statement for the public sector: ‘A job, not a vocation.’

Got something to add? Join the discussion and comment below.

You might disagree with half of it, but you’ll enjoy reading all of it. Try your first 10 weeks for just $10


Show comments
  • Harryagain

    Public service ethos used to exist. (I used to work for the NHS.)
    However it is now severely eroded, by the parachuting into the top jobs of clueless outsiders whose main objective is the furtherance of their own careers.
    Previously the “top jobbers” worked their way up from the bottom and knew every aspect of the work of the people they controlled.
    Now we get some clueless idiot that, desperate to make an impression, comes in and has a massive(pointless) re-organisation and then disappears after a couple of years
    The next one then turns up and we get yet another pointless reorganisation.
    Pointless because these people have no clue.
    After about three re-organisations, we get back to square one.
    These re-organisation cost millions and are very disruptive both to the work and private lives of staff.
    So we now have a situation where staff moral is at rock bottom.
    Anybody that can, gets out. The rest are p****d off.
    A situation guaranteed to cause trouble.
    All this started back in the Thatcher days when privatisation etc was rife and brain dead Tory politicians thought that commercial managers would make the NHS more efficient.
    Now we see the result when greed, dog eat dog and selfishness rules.
    These strikes would have been unthinkable a decade ago.
    Arises when the brain dead politicians think there’s a price for everything and they know best.

    • Peter Hulse

      “Previously the “top jobbers” worked their way up from the bottom and knew every aspect of the work of the people they controlled.”
      Not necessarily. Until the 1950s chief constable were widely appointed from outside the ranks (as I remember in Agatha Christie, usually retired brigadiers). The police became more professional, that is more self-referential and less accountable to outsiders. A conspiracy against the laity, in fact, and they appointed only insiders as their chiefs. And public confidence in the police has declined ever since.

  • Harryagain

    Another topid.
    Journalists need to get out more. They talk amongst themselves and come up with stupid theories about virtually everything. As bad as politicians, never had a real job.
    Take the “Daily Politics”. A bunch of ignoramuses pontificating on topics they have no clue about. Clearly they live in Lalal Land.
    Heh Heh, you don’t see comments allowed on the BBC website.
    Journalists, like politicans, should be made to have a real job before they are allowed to become journalists.
    Maybe then we wouldn’t see so much printed garbage. Especially on technical matters and the real world.

    • Todd Unctious

      Matthew, like all Tories ,can only comprehend any aspect of life in pound notes.

      • Harryagain

        Anyone that thinks it isn’t will soon find themselves in trouble.

  • Frank

    It’s crazy that public servants can also be on the public dole. Really, supporting public servants is the best way to make them happy about in turn supporting us. They shouldn’t be doing work at home stuff on the side, like at http://www.cogentnews.com/1/top-3-fastest-growing-to-make-money-online/ as that can only distract them from their main jobs.

  • Blazeaway

    And yet, and yet…for all that public-sector workers assure us of their higher moral plane, they are very good at filling their wellies.

    A recent National Audit Office survey found that, same for same, they got paid MORE than private-sector workers.

    The you have to factor in their generous pensions that very few private-sector workers enjoy.

    Then consider their generally longer holidays – and you doubt that they operate on a higher moral plane at all

    • Peter Hulse

      Indeed you should factor the4s in, but I suspect they don’t. They are righteously indignant, if with less cause than they believe.

    • Shorne

      I’d like to see a link to this NAO survey because here’s a quote from an Office of National Statistics report from almost exactly a year ago,
      “After accounting for the different organisation sizes between the public and private sector, it is estimated that on average the pay of the public sector was between 3.3% and 4.3% lower than the private sector in April 2014.”

      • HJ777

        You are being highly selective in your choice of quotation.

        Here’s the whole report: http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/dcp171776_383355.pdf

        Most people in the private sector don’t have the choice of working for a large organisation – and large organisations pay better.

        • Mr B J Mann

          Not only does even this report fall into the trap of thinking that (large) public sector organisations should be compared with private sector ones that have been successful, flourished, grown large, and can afford to pay high wages when they should actually be compared with small unprofitable or large but now unsuccessful, private sector organisations which can’t afford to pay high wages, but they compare eg London council top earners with the highest paid private sector earners in the world, and obviously they earn around 25% less. You would expect the gap to be far, far bigger.

          But at the other end, even in London, “low paid” public employees earn 20% more (13% more when
          accounting for organisation size) than private sector ones!

          And they think that the public sector should have higher pay because half of them doss around at uni on meejah degrees before getting an admin job while three quarters of private sector employees leave school and go to work on trawlers or oil rigs or in the construction industry?!?!?

      • Mr B J Mann

        There’s a link and a quote above that says the opposite even after the figures have been fiddled, sorry, adjusted, in favour of the public sector!

      • Mr B J Mann

        Also, the fiddles to try to make public sector pay look more reasonable are mis-applied.

        They compare councils with companies that are large because they are sucessful and because they are successful they can afford to pay high wages.

        You can’t compare two equally sized companies and say the bloated, bureacratic, overmanned, unproductive, mismanaged, lossmaking one should be paying the same as the lean, efficient, well managed, productive one.

        So why on earth do they do it when comparing corporate and council pay?!

      • Mr B J Mann

        Here’s a thought:

        Why don’t large councils pay their workers the same amount big charities pay their charity shop staff?!

        After all, they are both publicly funded non profit organisations, so it’s a much more reasonable comparison than with large for profit capitalist organisations!!!

    • Harryagain

      The ones at the top are very good at “filling their wellies”.
      Political appointments.
      The indians have a cap on their pay.

    • douglas redmayne

      Spiteful little turd.

      • Mr B J Mann

        Hit a nerve? Truth hurts!

        • douglas redmayne

          Looks like my pension will be much better than your pension, lol.

          • Mr B J Mann

            You couldn’t resist that, could you!

            See, the truth will out.

            And with it the ugly truth about the supposed public service ethos:

            It’s nothing but a self serving and ego driven scam!

          • douglas redmayne

            To some maybe but not to most who, including me deserve my pension which is clearly better than yours.

          • Mr B J Mann

            Course it’s better than mine, I paid for yours, and so can’t afford to pay for mine.

            No wonder you’re laughing at me for being one of the poor (literally) stupid mugs who overpaid you to be an uncivil public non servant, while we bust our guts, and will have to continue to do so till the day we drop, to fund your solid gold and diamond encrusted retirement.

            You’re laughing all the way to the bank, and at my expense.

            Can’t complain, I chose to do the right thing by society, rather than sponge off it, even though I’m effectively disabled, and could have spent my working life on the dole (and turned down a council house!;-)

            You enjoy it mate, and enjoy your “lol”, as that turns you on: most of us in the private sector get pleasure in higher minded more spiritual things.

            Feel free to respond to people who reveal your dirty little secret as “Spiteful little turd” while “lol”ing about at their expense!

            But please don’t judge us by your standards.

            On second thoughts, why burst your little bubble and spoil your day, if it makes you feel good, carry on thinking that you deserve “your” pension more than the people who paid for it and so have to do without!;-)

            Peace Bro!

      • Todd Unctious

        How do you know he is little?

  • Peter Hulse

    Perhaps the next stage is to integrate this insight with Julian Le Grand’s thesis that the world is divided into knights and knaves. Not all those who work in the public sector are knights (MPs, hospital managers, senior police officers), but it’s a fair starting point.

    • Mr B J Mann

      But there are also plenty of knaves lower down, not just milking the system, but gleefully throwing bags of spanners into it!

      The unhelpful jobsworths, the plastic parking plods ticketing ambulances and the cars of good Samaritans, and even of the accident or heart attack victims……..

      Didn’t one even ticket a corpse?!?!!!!!

  • Gweedo

    Here’s one example: as well as running a business, I am an elected and unpaid parish councillor in a rural part of the country. We wanted to make some changes to the way the parish was run, and improve local facilities. Guess what? Despite the nobility of our intentions (and some success) we have simply displaced landowners with sharp-elbowed professionals. You can argue about who has been more beneficial for our ‘community’, but we are just as much an interest group as our predecessors were.

    • douglas redmayne

      I prefer the landowners to sharp elbowed professionals: scum the lot of them.

      • Gweedo

        Until you know landowners, you don’t know scum.

        • douglas redmayne

          I will take your word for it.

          • Todd Unctious

            Landowners are the worst of the worst. Pompous and mean.

  • smoke me a kipper

    Austerity is self defeating and will result in the next economic collapse.

    All money is debt, to check this look at your bank notes, you will see they are IOUs. So if the Government reduces its debt or its rate of new borrowing growth (the deficit) the money supply contracts or grows less rapidly. A declining or stagnating money supply risks deflation and recession. So the current economic consensus so beloved by free market neo liberals the World over relies on an ever expanding debt. Of course the private sector could take on more debt to compensate for the reduction in public sector debt, and this is exactly the Government’s policy to stave off the otherwise inevitable consequence of economic recession that would result from its economic policies. But the private sector is not an homogeneous unit, it comprises banks, multi national corporations, small businesses, charities and other institutions, and of course individuals. And guess who the Government wants to take on more debt. Individuals of course as evidenced by policies from student loans to housing policy. The end result of which is a transfer of wealth (and power) from individuals to banks and big business.

    Time for a change

    • Todd Unctious

      Well said smokeme.. So few people understand that money is created by Government and borrowing creates growth. Osborne’s 1950s housewife approach to fiscal matters condemns us to deflation and failure.

      • davidofkent

        Borrowing for investment is appropriate. We have none of that happening in the public sector. Borrowing for current consumption is the road to ruin, and that is our present experience. Borrowing to give handouts to people who do no work is sheer madness. At the moment wealth is being transferred wholesale from those who have either saved or are working productively to those who are either over-borrowed or do no productive work. We have had no austerity at all for the past five years. I doubt there will be any in the next.

        • Todd Unctious

          Yes. But that is not a problem. Money is required and money is created by debt.

        • Garin

          Rubbish, of course their has been austerity, public sector spending has fallen to considerably less than 40% of GDP, one of the lowest in Europe and the lowest it has been since 1930. Most government departments and local council’s have lost 25% of their funding since 2010, but are still expected to provide the same level of service. Under investment in e.g. flood prevention and control has clearly worsened the flooding in northern England and southern Scotland this December. The wealth gap has widened, largely due to the English Tory government’s austerity policies, are you saying all those wealthy people who have gained in wealth in the last 5 year are also unproductive?

  • Todd Unctious

    HMRC announce closure of 90% of its offices. Reducing staff levels from 97,000 in 2006 to 44,000 by 2018. HMRC has a tax gap of £50 billion and now sends a clear signal to all UK businesses that they will never be investigated. Tory tax is voluntary for the rich.

    • HJ777

      On the contrary, the tax gap they estimate (£34bn, not £50bn) is modest by international standards and falling (it has fallen from 6.4% of the theoretical maximum tax revenue from 8.4% a decade ago).

      http://www.gov.uk/government/news/uk-tax-gap-falls-to-64-per-cent

      https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/470540/HMRC-measuring-tax-gaps-2015-1.pdf

      Much of this would never be recoverable whatever they did. For example when companies go bust when owing tax.

      • Todd Unctious

        So you suggest because we do well compared to those who are worse, we should not try to be better. This is the argument Russians use to justify their inherent dishonesty. They assume everyone else is corrupt and “at it”, so they may as well be too. Cheating .HMRC has been deliberately denuded of experience, is led by donkeys, and the Government is complicit with the CoLC in allowing widespread tax abuse. 15,000 more tax inspectors to be ” let go”in the next 5 years.

        • HJ777

          You were wrong about the ‘tax gap’ and I did not suggest HMRC shouldn’t try to do better

          Despite what you say, the ‘tax gap’ has fallen substantially in recent years.

          Put simply, you are talking nonsense.

          • Todd Unctious

            You seem I tent on pretending the tax gap is small. Perhaps a 1%er stooge. HMRC staff know the reality. HMRC staff estimate the Gap at well over £50 billion. Mainly due to the rich and their tax havens.

          • HJ777

            No, they estimate it at £34bn – I have posted the link to their estimate.

            You seem to think the £50bn figure is valid just because you say it is.Why should I believe some idiot on an internet forum who can’t back up his claims with any evidence?

          • Todd Unctious

            Richard Murphy has made the only independent assessment of our tax gap. He has it at £76 billion. The £50 billion is estimated by the ARC union for tax men.

          • HJ777

            Murphy is not independent. He is a a left wing “tax campaigner” and gets paid by trade unions.

            His assessments are palpable nonsense. He says what his paymasters want him to say. If he didn’t, his lucrative income stream would dry up.

          • Garin

            ……and the Tory party gets its funds mostly from city bankers, hardly the model of impartiality. At least union members are common people.

          • HJ777

            The Tory party doesn’t get most of its funds from city bankers, but that is besides the point. Nobody is pretending that the Tory party is producing an impartial analysis.

            Richard Murphy produces ‘analyses’ designed to please the people who pay for them. Any reference to his work is simply a reference to whatever his paymasters want him to say. Anyone who has any critical faculties can see that much of his analysis is pure nonsense.

          • Garin

            Mmmm, are you sure the Tory party doesn’t get a bulk of its funding from the city of London bankers? A quick websearch brings up a lot of data, just a quick one at http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2015/feb/05/conservatives-bankrolled-hedge-fund-managers. It says 27 of the 59 wealthiest fund managers have donated more than £19m to Tory coffers, very believable. That is a sizeable sum for vested interests to access Davey Cameron and affect party policies.

          • HJ777

            Yes, I am sure.

            Fund managers have, indeed, donated to the Tory party, but that doesn’t mean that it gets a majority of its income from them.

            The Guardian made the claim that the majority of its income came from city bankers a couple of years or so ago. They listed the biggest ‘city banker’ donors and were widely ridiculed because a few minutes investigation that many of them weren’t bankers at all (or fund managers).

            Tory party annual income is highly volatile but tends to range from about £25m to £45m. The amounts The Guardian claims in the link you posted is just £6.5m and it is not at all clear that figure is for a single year.

          • Garin

            A bit off the topic of this article by Matthew Parris, which I have some experience, negative and positive, and on both sides of this supposed cultural divide of the public vs private sector. My industry, the forestry industry has until recently had a good cross fertilisation as employees, including technical and professional managers such as myself have moved back and forth between public and private. I’ve worked in all countries of the British Isles, public and private forestry, and I am planning my next move north again, all down to pay. Due to Westminster government pay policy, that movement is now all one way back to the private sector in forestry, the pay premium in the private sector including pensions is now over 25%, plus the future of pay rises is much better. The public at large should be concerned about retention in the wider public sector, unless of course the objective is an ideological one to get rid of the public sector and destroy it. I know through family contacts the NHS has a problem recruiting and retaining doctors. Bottom line, money talks, ethos walks. The reality is, my ethos, whether in the public or private sectors is driven only by the month I get paid for plus the professional integrity of my industry and our professional standards body, the ICF. I have not found the professional ethos of public or private forestry differs greatly. Who ever pays the best and gives the best terms and conditions of employment will win the limited supply of good employees. Off topic, analysis of Tory funds since 2010 and this article from the Independent, which states just £10m given since 2010 by city bankers/fund managers http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/how-hedge-fund-super-rich-donated-19m-to-tory-party-10024548.html. From record of donations, http://www.ukpolitical.info/Donations.htm, giving a total donations income of £104m since 2010, the city of London certainly donates at least 10% of the Tory party donations income. As we say in my part of the World, that is a gurt dollop, but obviously much less as a % than unions give the Labour party.

          • HJ777

            Yet various independent analyses show that public sector pay, even allowing for qualifications and experience is higher on average. This is before you even look at pensions.

            The NHS has problems recruiting medics because it doesn’t train enough – the number of training places is artificially restricted.

          • Garin

            Incorrect, everyone from the ONS to the CIPD to Hays Recruitment (the list goes on) has found that on average, and including benefits and pensions, like for like (do not compare raw data, it is meaningless), the private sector is paid more than the public sector, the deviance increasing with the more senior the grade. The evidence is out there, unless of course you read and collect your evidence from the Daily Mail or Telegraph (I hope not). Medical doctor undergrad places at universities are not the limiting factor on the recruitment and retention of doctors into the NHS, nor is the typical 3 year trainee position (house officer), pay and prospects in the UK NHS is the limiting factor, obtain data from the BMA or GMC, and talk to doctors and surgeons like I do. I personally know two recently graduated and house officer qualified (GPs)doctors who are off to Australia, much better pay, less hours, one of them the daughter of one of my local MPs, a Tory who is also a doctor. Only lower down the pecking order at admin grades does public sector pay exceed the private sector, indeed according to the ONS senior level civil servant pay is more than 25% below equivalent jobs in the private sector. Given public sector pay rises are capped at a maximum of 1% per year, typically 0.6% until at least 2021 (probably beyond that), and private sector increases have been averaging over 2.5%, and are forecast to remain near this, the deviation will increase (again ONS data). The Treasury has an annual turnover of 40%, the MOD civilian sector has a similar turnover, their figures, due mainly to low pay, and the attraction of higher pay in the finance, engineering, IT and procurement sectors. In my own industry, the rate for a degree qualified, highly experienced forest manger in the Forestry Commission is capped at between £24k and £28k per year, no benefits or bonuses, depending upon contract hours (37hrs min or 44 hrs min respectively). Rises restricted to 0.6% per year until at least 2021. Meanwhile private sector forester salaries are typically in range of £32k-£46k per year plus bonus, plus company car, plus benefits, plus good annual rises. Typically annual rises are around 2.5%. Hence the drift of foresters from public to private sector, and this is not the only profession suffering low pay at the hands of this government. This based upon my personal experience, anecdotal evidence and evidence from advertised posts. So do your research please, use current research, not Daily Mail ‘says so’ designed to inflame hatred in those that work in the private sector (whatever that really is). So the reason there is far more of a tendency to strike in the public sector than the private sector is PAY, pure and simple. The other result is the poor retention and recruitment, which is getting worse. As and when certain sections of the public sector fail, due to poor retention and recruitment, it will give the opportunity for the Tory govt to sell off those sectors. Wait and see.

          • HJ777

            You are wrong:

            http://www.ifs.org.uk/uploads/publications/comms/r97.pdf

            …In raw terms, pay levels are higher in the public sector than in the private sector. However, after accounting for differences in education, age and where workers live, the differences are much smaller. Among men, the average public sector pay differential in 2013–14 was close to zero, while among women it was around 8%. …”

            http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-26512643

            “Public sector workers are paid on average 14.5% more than those in the private sector, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

            Stripping out the influence of various job and personal characteristics – not just the effect of jobs requiring high levels of skill or higher educational qualifications, but also factors like age, experience, gender and location of the jobs – then the pay difference in favour of the public sector shrank to between 2.2% and 3.1%.”

            The supply of medical training places in the UK is highly restricted. Government deliberately regulates the number of places – thousands of well-qualified applicants are rejected every year – do you really think this has no effect on the supply of medics?

          • Garin

            Sorry you are completely wrong, have you ever studied statistics? For a start the bbc link you quote, and the source as ONS is not only out of date, but meaningless RAW data, it even qualifies that for goodness sake in the main text. In fact all your sources are out of date and just RAW data. As said raw data means nothing, a neuro surgeon is paid more than a bartender, hey public sector overpaid. Also 40% of the public sector is degree qualified or higher, and work at that level, again you must compare like with like. Start doing your own direct comparisons, I’ve already started you off on comparing private and public forestry, a direct comparison if ever there was one. ONS comparison dated Nov 2014 clearly states a private sector pay premium: http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/rel/lmac/public-and-private-sector-earnings/november-2014/public-private-pay-2014.html. I’ll dig out the latest 2015 figures for ‘ee, it shows a greater premium now to the private sector, which is ever widening. Sorry, you have failed your macroeconomics class, please repeat this class, I can lead you to water but not make you drink.

          • HJ777

            yes, i have, unlike you.

            Adjusting for organisation size tells you nothing since far fewer people have the option of being employed in a large organisation in the private sector.

            the ONS figures are adjusted for experience and qualifications and the spreadsheet shows higher pay in the public sector albeit by a narrowing amount.

            the extra benefit of public sector pensions is not taken into account.

          • Garin

            Err, studied yr 1 and yr 2 biological stats as part of my forestry degree, got a certificate of distinction for it, I have used bio stats as part of my previous jobs. Anyway, now your making up your own rules. Whether the private sector has large employers or not is not the point, regression analysis used still assesses this, like for like, I can think of several very large Worldwide private sector organisations with offices in the UK, so the option is there to move employer. People aren’t classified at birth as to whether they are destined to be a private or public sector workers (isn’t that eugenics?), one can move. Many good private sector employers pay pensions, my last private sector forestry company paid a very good pension, actually better than my current public sector pension, I’ve kept it going, started it in 1988, so I can restart it when I rejoin my new private sector employer, it’s on target for £11,000/yr when I plan to retire. Meanwhile my current public sector pension will give me just over £2,000/yr when and if I retire in 17 years time, not a fortune or gold plated. It tends to be low end private sector organisations and small ones that lack pension provisions. The reality is many people are leaving the public sector, as a recipient of those services, whether you consider you experience them directly or not, you should be concerned. I’m concerned my local health authority is struggling to retain GPs and experienced nurses for instance. Public sector employees are leaving, particularly in high skilled areas, many government departments report severe skills and recruitment problems, due to lower pay and much lower annual rises, whether you want to accept that or not. It has been a significant problem in the civilian sections of the MOD for instance, and many of my colleagues now are either not forestry qualified or experienced, the public sector does not pay enough to attract in private sector managers. I got conned when 2 years after I joined (for geographical reasons to be in SW Scotland) pay was frozen in 2010, I haven’t had a rise since 2010, hence I’m leaving to rejoin the private sector. I’ll close this argument now, if…. you believe, despite all the anecdotal, actual, advertised job vacancy salaries, ONS stats, specific industry stats (they are available, often compiled by specialists), that it is financially beneficial to be working in the public sector, my suggestions to you is either 1. don’t join the private sector if you are currently in the public sector, or 2. join the public sector if you are currently in the private sector. You’d be a fool to do otherwise. Good luck to you, take the road that pays you best, in the short, medium and long term.

          • HJ777

            your forestry degree.

            Don’t make me laugh.

          • Garin

            You are obviously a juvenile, deeply embittered, probably in middle englandshire. I’m not even going to bother to comment further. Good luck in your highflying career, whatever it really is, I can theorise. Please don’t bother responding with childish comments, I could probably have a more coherent, lucid conversation with a schoolkid.

          • HJ777

            A schoolkid would certainly be more your level.

          • Garin

            Bored, you sad person, nay unborn embryo. Your like a little kid throwing their toys out of the pram, just because someone doesn’t agree with your opinion, as based on bigotry and lack of evidence as it is. As soon as one insults the other party, the argument is lost, and boy, you have lost.

          • HJ777

            Plainly, you have poor memory as well as an infantile temperament, since you started giving insults and then trying to boast about your supposedly superior understanding of stats because you have a ‘forestry degree’.

            When ridiculed for this, you responded with a tantrum (which does not seem to have let up yet).

          • Garin

            Still bored, this has become, na na na na, you started it first. Really? You firstly quoted ‘yes, I have, unlike you’ in answer to my question have you studied statistics? A fair question given your overuse of RAW data to justify your views, no statistician would do that. Sorry, what is your education history in statistics, you haven’t actually quoted that yet? I’m sorry, going back to the important bit, ignoring your tantrums, the original thread, the public sector at middle and higher grades is on average paid less than the private sector, whether you want to unilaterally accept business size is assessed or not, the 2014 ONS publication clearly indicates a private sector premium. That premium is increasing, again confirmed by 2014 ONS stats, take a look at the 2015 stats. Here’s one for your stats, public sector forester leaves public sector job in Scotland on £28k/yr end of this month, accepts private sector job on £51k/yr in Derbyshire/Yorks (real case). Question back to you, if your assertion that the public sector is better paid, can you get a higher paid public sector job, yes/no?

          • HJ777

            Yes, I am bored of dealing with an idiot.

            Goodbye.

          • Mr B J Mann

            Yes, rich lefty BBC staffers pretending to be self-employed or companies. Ditto Ken Livingstone and Tony Blair. Not to mention all those right on, charitable near saints “progressive” rock stars based in Switzerland or Luxembourg or Ireland. And don’t forget all those millionaire comedians signed up for aggressive tax “avoidance” vehicles and worse.

            It never ceases to amaze me that the left think that they are so much nicer and more generous and charitable then evil bankers and other fat cats.

            And yet, despite the fact that even their own who coin it do everything they can to avoid even 40% tax, they are convinced that even higher rates of tax will attract the world’s rich to our shores?!

            Hello?! When Hollande upped French taxes, did even any lefty Brits flock to France for the chance to pay more tax?!

            Or did so many Frogs hop over the Channel looking for lower taxes that London became the second largest French city?!

            Yet the left insist that cutting taxes is “stealing” money from the poor and giving the “poor’s” money to the rich?!

            When in fact, regardless of the contrived arguments of lefty economists trying to finds ways to explain it away, whenever taxes are lowered tax take goes up!

          • Garin

            What about ‘righty’ staffers at the BBC, e.g. Jeremy Clarkson (before he got sacked)? Lower taxes doesn’t always increase tax take, that is neo liberalism theory, and debunked trickle down economics/reaganomics. Evidence please?

          • Mr B J Mann

            Would you like to list the rest of these “‘righty’ staffers”?!

            And then explain why they are hypocrites for not following ‘lefty’ dogma?!

            And what it proves!!!

            And if you’d bothered to read the rest of the post you were pretending to “reply” to you would have answered your own question.

            Yes, the ‘lefty’ end of the the economic expert spectrum can, and do, indulge in data dredging, figure finessing, and other statistical shenanigans to enable themselves to prove that, look, yes during this short period between two specific dates tax rates went up and tax takes went up, and between those other two vey specific dates rates went down and tax takes went down.

            And they can even talk a good talk about why in another specific period takes might have gone up while rates fell because of some clever economic argument explaining why it was a one-off blip, while they can also conjure up a “scientific” economic explanation for why during some other specific period revenue fell while tax rates rose, but that was a freak occurence too.

            However, back in the real world:

            “When in fact, regardless of the contrived arguments of lefty economists trying to finds ways to explain it away, whenever taxes are lowered tax take goes up!”

            Because even:

            “Yes, rich lefty BBC staffers pretending to be self-employed or
            companies. Ditto Ken Livingstone and Tony Blair. Not to mention all
            those right on, charitable near saints “progressive” rock stars based in Switzerland or Luxembourg or Ireland. And don’t forget all those millionaire comedians signed up for aggressive tax “avoidance” vehicles and worse.”

            “It never ceases to amaze me that the left think that they are so much nicer and more generous and charitable then evil
            bankers and other fat cats.”

            “And yet, despite the fact that even their own who coin it do everything they can to avoid even 40% tax, they are convinced that even higher rates of tax will attract the world’s rich to our shores?!”

            “Hello?! When Hollande upped French taxes, did even any lefty Brits flock to France for the chance to pay more tax?!”

            “Or did so many Frogs hop over the Channel looking for lower taxes that London became the second largest French city?!”

            Or would you like to give me your evidence for why, when the lefties refuse to pay even 40% tax, the evil, selfish, robbing, fat-cats will start handing over bucketloads of dosh to make up for the fact the left are being so tight-fisted?!?!

      • diqi

        Thanks for the links. Interesting that they include tax avoidance of £2.7b as part of the £34b tax gap, as being a authorised legal arrangement I don’t see why it is then treated as tax that should still be collected.

      • davidraynes

        My view after 36 years in one of the predecessor organizations is that HMRC does not really understand indirect the tax gap.

        HMC&E certainly did not when I was in it. It was persistently under assessed, by a flawed mechanism. I am sure it is worse now and probably deliberately pitched low. Telling the awful truth to politicians is against human nature

        20% VAT now is too high for many Trade Classes and is causing the cash economy to rise. Of course when VAT is evaded, NI and Income Tax are also evaded. The British have historically been fairly compliant tax payers. That situation is breaking down.

        The Treasury and Chancellor do not seem to comprehend what is going on.

  • hugh

    Public servants are almost the only workers who strike these days. When they strike the do not hurt the bosses, they hurt the public, those they pretend to serve.
    Public service workers know that their customers have nowhere they can go. When I worked for a service organisation we wanted to go on strike. Our union advised us not to because our company might lose customers to our competitors and our jobs would then be at risk.
    Remember the firemen denying access to the fire stations? They were not hurting anyone but the unfortunate people with houses on fire. Will Jeremy Hunt be in hospital when the JDs go on strike? No, some sickly elderly people will be though. “Thanks, JDs” perhaps the elderly will say, “you are doing this to save the NHS”. Or they might curse them and die.

    • Garin

      Private sector workers also strike, do your research. The more public sector workers strike, the more it saves you ‘tax payer’ money, a. because they don’t get paid, and b. the work they didn’t do whilst on strike, still has to be done, and usually is, with no additional cost to you. So suck up, pray for public sector workers to strike, it’ll save you your hard earned tax payer dollars/pounds/euros/shekels. But you should be concerned at the retention and recruitment problem in much of the public sector now due to relatively low pay. My own industry, forestry, in the public sector pay lags behind at least 30% (I talk from experience), and that gap is widening, no surprise public sector forestry managers are not happy about pay and are leaving. Public sector foresters tend not to strike either. With the recent floods in the UK, and talk of afforestation in the uplands to help control it, can only be done with public sector foresters (Forestry Commission woodland officers), who oversee the grants, regulations and planning submitted by private sector foresters. Without FC woodland officers, I can’t see how private sector forestry will be able to function. Go and talk to private sector foresters to see their views on the need for public sector foresters. It is all down to pay.

      • HJ777

        91% of all working days lost through strikes in 2014 were in the public sector even though it only employs about 20% of the workforce.

        • Garin

          Pure simple down to pay, and the Tory government that is holding down pay in the pubic sector. The data/evidence from the ONS is published and supports the private sector pay premium now. Pay rises in the private sector typically 2.5-3% per year, in the public sector 0.6-1%,in many case ZERO%. Removal of progression pay has also created pay equality problems in the public sector, they are all now paid different rates to do the same job. That creates morale, retention and other problems, striking is often seen as the only way to address it. Me personally, work to rule would be better. Do MPs get paid different rates to do the same job? Or workers in Tescos or Asda? Pay according to recent ONS analysis is lagging behind like for like in the public sector, as much as 25% at senior level, only at admin level is there a slight public sector premium. I can quote my own industry, forestry where the private sector premium is now over 25% including pensions. Anyway, I don’t know any public sector employees that have striked, do you? I do know private sector workers who have striked though, when I worked in Scotland, and that was pay related.

  • seangrainger

    Dear Mr P, Since I probably fall into all of the first three of your commenter categories please my I just say that apart from you being an intelligent logical observer — elsewise why would we bother — you also habitually lay yourself on the line.

  • A Taylor

    I have worked for many years in a public service. My workplace, in common with many others in the public sector, depends on educated women of a certain age who chose the job because it allowed them to care for children or relatives. There was an unwritten compact between these employees
    and government; they accepted poor pay in return for stability, good working conditions and a pension. Budgetary cuts are forcing many of my colleagues to leave; they are being replaced, if at all, with temporary staff. The compact has been broken. A future government which wanted to restore public service would be unable to do so because it would have to pay wages commensurate with those in the private sector. This government does not appear to understand any model of human relations from which profit is absent; in a few years of cuts, it will have done away with one of the most admired aspects of our culture: a civil service characterised by probity and dedication.

    • Goinlike Billio

      What you are saying is however as you say unwritten. This compact has no actual existence.Like the British constitution it is supposed to be understood.
      So when you reform these institutions as New Labour did so that they bear little relationship to their previous incarnations then these unwritten compacts disappear as well.
      It explains the present problems with the House of Lords.

    • HJ777

      Public sector workers always think they are accepting ‘poor pay’ as some sort of sacrifice. They usually have an inflated idea of what people in the private sector are paid.

      However, the facts are that they get better pay, even adjusted for qualifications and experience, than private sector workers – and they get better holidays and pensions. If you don’t believe this, look at the analyses carried out by the IFS and others.

      • fundamentallyflawed

        All you hear about is how “they do it because they love the job” yet all they moan about is their pay

  • MrBishi

    “Work” is the action of selling ones time for reward.
    All the stuff about “ethos” and “duty” is simply spin, designed to puff up egos or disguise laziness and corruption.
    The problem – for the public sector – is that all workers must be managed and that is not a skill that is evident in politicians.
    And so, public sector workers deliver – in return for their wages – only what they feel inclined to deliver with very little or no input from what, in the private sector, would be the ” management” layer in the organisation.
    This is not to suggest that the management layers in the public sector are devoid of management skills simply that the politicians who set their targets are more interested in a quiet life than the sort of confrontation that naturally occurs between worker and management when productivity is the foremost aim.
    I will give one example to make my point.
    In 2009, George Osborne said this, “anyone who wishes to pay a public servant more than the prime minister will have to put it before the chancellor.” Since then the salaries of senior public sector workers have gone through the roof. So, did George Osborne agree to all of those huge pay rises or does he not know the meaning of “follow up” and “compliance”?

  • Goinlike Billio

    Mr Taylor is right. Like the British constitution it is supposed to be understood.
    So when you reform these institutions as New Labour did so that they bear little relationship to their previous incarnations then these unwritten compacts disappear as well. The motives of New Labour had nothing to do with profit.However without these traditions you are then as you say obliged to return to a market model.
    The British constitution managed to survive far more radical governments than those of recent times but it is only now that it is in danger of collapse. This cannot be explained by budgetary cuts or management failures.

    You cannot for example explain the present problems with the House of Lords by either of these.

  • Suzy61

    ‘Anyone who has worked in a charity will be familiar with the rancid element that can be introduced into any co-operative endeavour by the consciousness of every comrade that he or she doing this for love, not money.’

    This explains why the little, grey-haired old women working in charity shops are mostly grumpy, bossy and rude.

    • Mr B J Mann

      I once tried to buy the strap off a handbag (that had handles too) in a charity shop and was refused on the grounds they wouldn’t be able to sell the handbag?! The idea that they could get more money by selling them separately (probably selling the handbag at the same price!) just couldn’t compute/was more than their job’s worth/not their job/needed authorisation/didn’t comply with their procedures……

      • Suzy61

        The worst example I saw was a middle-aged homeless person, asking if he could please use the toilet in the shop. No doubt he thought asking a local branch of Oxfam would be met with a little sympathy.

        No such thing – the old harridan flatly refused and ordered him from the shop. For a moment I was speechless, but then asked her ‘this is a charity shop, could you not have been a little more charitable?’.

        ‘Not to his sort’…she snorted.

  • Clive

    The public sector is about 54% unionised; the private sector about 14%. That is why Labour wants a bigger public sector

    https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/431564/Trade_Union_Membership_Statistics_2014.pdf

    Public sector workers are paid better than their private sector equivalents. Not by much but when you take into account the pension deal, pay and conditions are much better in the public sector.

    http://www.ifs.org.uk/uploads/publications/comms/r97.pdf

    …In raw terms, pay levels are higher in the public sector than in the private sector. However, after accounting for differences in education, age and where workers live, the differences are much smaller. Among men, the average public sector pay differential in 2013–14 was close to zero, while among women it was around 8%. …

  • Clive

    The public sector is about 54% unionised; the private sector about 14%. That is why Labour wants a bigger public sector

    https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/431564/Trade_Union_Membership_Statistics_2014.pdf

    Public sector workers are paid better than their private sector equivalents. Not by much but when you take into account the pension deal, pay and conditions are much better in the public sector.

    http://www.ifs.org.uk/uploads/publications/comms/r97.pdf

    …In raw terms, pay levels are higher in the public sector than in the private sector. However, after accounting for differences in education, age and where workers live, the differences are much smaller. Among men, the average public sector pay differential in 2013–14 was close to zero, while among women it was around 8%. …

    I worked in the civil service for six years after 36 years in the private sector. The ‘ethos’ in the public sector is staggeringly different.

    In a way you can sum it up by failure. If there is a failure in the private sector, a manager will be looked at very hard and potentially downgraded or fired. He or she will have to come up with some pretty good arguments to avoid opprobrium.

    In the public sector, invariably the reason for failure will be explained as lack of resources – usually headcount. That serves everybody’s interest. The lowest level manager is absolved and all the managers above him/her get bigger empires.

    The people in the public sector are not different from those in the private sector. They are corrupted by access to what they see as an infinite budget. So the ‘work’ whatever it is comes first, however inefficiently it is performed or even how useless it is. The cost comes a long, long way back.

    • Clive

      I tried to put ‘H*/she’ (i substituted He or she in the end) in this and it was moderated ?

      • Mr B J Mann

        Probably thought you were talking about a t r a n n y that wasn’t a van!

    • Mr B J Mann

      Council employees are better qualified because we pay for them to go on all so of courses, plus study leave.

      And London weighting probably doesn’t cover London costs.

      But it doesn’t matter how much they finesse the “raw” (= true) figures, the public sector do now get paid far more than the private sector, for better hours, higher job security, more holidays, more sick days, lighter workload…….

      And that’s before you add in the solid gold and diamond encrusted pension!

    • Mr B J Mann

      Council employees are better qualified because we pay for them to go on all so of courses, plus study leave.

      And London weighting probably doesn’t cover London costs.

      But it doesn’t matter how much they finesse the “raw” (= true) figures, the public sector do now get paid far more than the private sector, for better hours, higher job security, more holidays, more sick days, lighter workload…….

      And that’s before you add in the solid gold and diamond encrusted pension!

      • Garin

        Many council employees are better qualified because approx. 40% of them have paid their own way through university (fees, lodging, food etc), often at great cost! And now, according to the ONS, like for like, public sector pay is lagging behind private sector pay, except at admin grade level. Raw figures mean nothing, it is like comparing a thoracic surgeon with a bartender and declaring the public sector is overpaid. Only a comparison of like for like mean anything, and that is where the evidence points strongly to a private sector pay (including pension and bonuses) premium, which is widening. Hence the retention and recruitment problem in much of the public sector now, e.g. 40% annual turnover at the Treasury.

        • HJ777

          You’ll b able to provide the link where the ONS says that.

        • Mr B J Mann

          Firstly, if you broaden it out to the public sector in general, nurses still, just, get bursaries rather than pay fees, as I understand it.

          Secondly, are you saying that the other 60% are oldies who got fees paid and grants for living off?!

          Thirdly, I didn’t mention degrees.

          Fourthly, I wouldn’t mention Parks Management, or even Sociology, as degrees.

          Fifthly, see Firstly, how many COUNCILS employ thoracic surgeons, and I think you’ll find their fees don’t get anywhere near even touching the costs of being trained up to thoracic surgeon level.

          Sixthly, it’s like comparing a Chartered, or even Incorporated, Engineer, with a parking warden, so your point is?!

          And Seventhly, as I summarised:

          “it doesn’t matter how much they finesse the “raw” (= true) figures, the public sector do now get paid far more than the private sector, for better hours, higher job security, more holidays, more sick days, lighter workload…….”

          “And that’s before you add in the solid gold and diamond encrusted pension!”

          Feel free to refer to the other posts where I’m sure I must have already gone into the detail!

  • Mr B J Mann

    What “somewhat lower wages”?!

    It’s been a long time since the public sector workers took home less than an equivalent private sector worker.

    And then you have to factor in the value of their, admittedly not gold plated, pensions.

    Because they typically add 30% of their salary to their compensation package, and so are solid gold rather than merely gold plated.

    And pension schemes like the police and firemen are diamond encrusted too, being worth 40% on top of their salaries, and yet firemen on higher rate tax will complain that “they” pay up to 11% of their salary towards them. But that’s BEFORE tax, so it’s only 6% out of a taxpayer funded salary to “pay” for a benefit that costs 40% of salar!y!

    I had to laugh when I saw a picture of a group of protesting teachers waving placards proclaiming how much they were going to lose from their pensions under proposed reforms: the smallest loss shown would dwarf the pensions the few private sector workers who still have them could expect!

    That just shows how out of touch and entitled they have become.

    Yes, a few, like the soldiers, are appallingly paid for what they do, and have been treated shockingly over pensions.

    But then you have tube “drivers” who expect double the average wage, plus massive pension benefits, plus overtime rates that went out with the arc in the private sector, for sitting in the cab of a train that can drive itself, to provide a public “service” that isn’t available to those working unsocial hours, or even Holy days, on minimum wage, and with no overtime rates or pension scheme.

    And if you tell the public sector workers of today that they won’t believe you, or they will tell you that the private sector should strike for better pay and conditions.

    Don’t they realise that the private sector can’t afford to keep the public sector in the lap of luxury AND pay itself a decent wage?

    And if it withdrew it’s labour to try to improve its pay and conditions there would be no money for their current miserly pay, never mind to pay for public “service”!

    When will our public sector employees learn that it is the private sector worker that provides public services?!

    • Tim Gilling

      Yes. Public vs Private Sector pay.

      http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-26512643

      • Mr B J Mann

        Another thing they forget when they fiddle the figures is that small companies generally pay low wages because they are just starting up, or failing, and so can’t afford to pay high wages.

        And large companies pay large wages because they are successful, grew as a result, and can afford high wages.

        However, councils aren’t companies:

        They are inefficient, non productive, money haemorraging

    • Garin

      When will private sector employees learn to get off their high horses and learn that they wouldn’t have jobs, law and order, an environment, healthcare, public services, basic education, armed forces, water, (sewerage and electricity in Scotland at least) etc etc without them? When Royal Mail was in the public sector, if they striked, I bet you would have berated them, now they are private sector you would probably say, oh bless ’em, pity they aren’t lucky enough to be in the overpaid public sector, they deserve every penny they can get!! Unless it has escaped you, much of the public sector now is so understaffed and under resourced, it is at the point of collapse, that will affect the private sector badly! That is why so many public sector employees are so fed up and many are leaving. If you want a country with minimal public services, try Zimbabwe, lovely place!

      • HJ777

        ‘If you want a country with minimal public services, try Zimbabwe, lovely place!’

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Economy_of_Zimbabwe

        ‘Government spending is 97.8% of GDP’

      • Mr B J Mann

        When will public sector employees learn to get off their high horses
        and learn that they wouldn’t have jobs, law and order, an environment,
        healthcare, public services, basic education, armed forces, water,
        (sewerage and electricity in Scotland at least) etc etc without the private sector generating the wherewithall to fund them?

        As for “When Royal Mail was in the public sector, if they striked, I bet you
        would have berated them, now they are private sector you would probably
        say, oh bless ’em, pity they aren’t lucky enough to be in the overpaid
        public sector, they deserve every penny they can get!!”

        Feel free to make up any arguments you like, doesn’t make any of them true!

        “Unless it has
        escaped you, much of the public sector now is so understaffed and under
        resourced”

        Because we can’t afford the luxury of you!

        THAT is why:

        “it is at the point of collapse”

        So it’s YOUR fault that:

        “that will affect the private
        sector badly!”

        As for:

        “That is why so many public sector employees are so fed up
        and many are leaving.”

        Yes, on Gold Plated and Diamond Encrusted pensions……..

        And often coming back as consultants!!!!!!!!

        And, in case you missed it, all the mis-management, from the NHS, to Financial Services, is down to the PUBLIC sector.

        You know:

        “law and order”!

        As for:

        “When will public sector employees learn to get off their high horses
        and learn that they wouldn’t have jobs”?!?!?!?

        Just goes to show what planet the public sector live on.

        They think that if it wasn’t for the public sector the private sectro wouldn’t have jobs?!?!?!?

        And as for:

        “If you want a country with minimal public
        services, try Zimbabwe, lovely place!”

        Used to be a wonderful place, and the bread-basked of Africa.

        Now it’s a basket case thanks to the busy-body interfering of the public sector, and other lefties, locally and world-wide.

        Well done YOU!

  • Tom M

    Well Matthew Parris it is heartwarming indeed to hear you read our comments. Standby for more forthright observations on your articles.

  • John M

    You forgot the inbuilt sense of entitlement and the apparent assumption that Government funding is in fact free money which doesn’t have to be paid for by ordinary hard working taxpayers.

    • Mr B J Mann

      What amuses me most is when they complain about how much “they” have to pay for their pension, maximum of 6%, when their pensions cost 30% to 40% of salary, the private sector makes up the difference, and even if they are paying as much as 6% out of “their own” pocket:

      It’s the private sector producer who put the salary in their pocket in the first place!

      But shouldn’t laugh at them, it’s not nice, even though they are laughing at us.

      And worse.

      Here’s what they really think about those who pay for them:

      douglas redmayne
      Spiteful little turd.

      Todd Unctious -> douglas redmayne
      How do you know he is little?

      douglas redmayne
      Looks like my pension will be much better than your pension, lol.

      douglas redmayne
      most who, including me deserve my pension which is clearly better than yours.

      Nice people.

      But at least we have our honour and pride.

  • evad666

    Surely the problem in an age of cartel politics is that politicians have for too long focussed on the cartel of the public sector workers.
    I recall no extended debate over various sectors of private industry.

  • starfish

    Is here such a thing as a private sector ethos?

    • Mr B J Mann

      Being prepared to sacrifice your lifestyle, and you family’s financial well being, and your retirement, to pay for uncivil public “servants” pay, conditions and pensions?

  • Andrew Daws

    “Anyone who has worked in a charity will be familiar with the rancid element that can be introduced into any co-operative endeavour by the consciousness of every comrade that he or she doing this for love, not money.”
    You are joining in the delusion that voluntary work is selfless, “for love not money”. Love of whom?
    I have worked in a number of voluntary organisations, and the number of those who get nothing out of working is very small indeed. Especially among the older of us with time on our hands, the need to keep busy, to be appreciated and valued are very strong. And that’s before we start on those who like to control others, and get recognition and status. Of course if the organisations didn’t peddle the idea that the workers are selfless, they would soon run out of helpers. But there’s only so much daytime TV that we can stomach.

  • PaulClieu

    ‘the public service ethos’

    In the distant past, public service workers were understood to earn significantly less than similar workers in the private sector. It is quite possible that a significant number of altruistic people happily took these lower paid roles.

    For many decades, with the relentless increases of taxes of all kinds, the private sector has been hammered* with the result that most public service workers are paid significantly more than they could earn in the private sector, particularly when pensions and security of employment are considered.

    Today, greed is far more likely than altruism as the motivation to choose to work in the public sector. This is the reason the old beneficial concept of “Public sector ethos” no longer applies.

    *As taxes of all kinds increase, private sector workers and their employers see an increasing proportion of their resources lost to the government leaving less for investment and a fundamental weakening of the sector. In contrast, the taxes collected by the Government on its own employees wages and expenditure is not a loss of resources. It is merely a recycling of the same money back to the same pay packets and pensions further inflated by money extorted from the ever smaller genuine private sector.

Close