Local authority pay plan highlights waste at the heart of public sector

Glasgow Council Leader Steven Purcell is about to raise the minimum hourly rate for his workforce to £7 (your report, 9 March). This is around 22 per cent higher than the national minimum hourly rate of £5.73. This is apparently to be financed by a crackdown on absenteeism.

Surely cracking down on absenteeism, which seems to be a problem throughout the public sector, is something he should be doing in the normal course of running his business. There will be many hard-pressed Glasgow council taxpayers who would suggest that any such savings should be used to cut the council tax itself.

There are many people in other workforces who are experiencing wage freezes and a reduction in their working hours, never mind a rise funded by a crackdown on absenteeism. One wonders if local authorities have any real understanding of the financial crisis engulfing us.

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At least Mr Purcell should be given some grudging credit for acknowledging he has a problem with absenteeism.


Lawers Crescent

Polmont, Stirlingshire

The claim that the Glasgow council workers' pay rise can be funded by a crackdown in absenteeism proves how grossly padded with lazy but unsackable individuals our public "services" are. At a time when government spending is passing 50 per cent of UK GNP and 60 per cent of Scotland's, such behaviour will ensure that the current recession goes on forever.


Woodlands Road


While Sir Fred Goodwin might be pariah of the year, compared with the public sector and its project management, RBS has been far more successful. While the Holyrood building managed to cost nearly 12 times the original estimate, RBS built its modern HQ at Gogar on time and within budget. Sir Fred might have been out of control and allowed to exceed his capabilities by a compliant and not particularly competent board of directors, but at the same time successful management within the bank was managing the other day-to-day functions.

The management of the bank, along with all the other banks, set up an IT system which allows any customer to go to any ATM anywhere in the world, draw out money in local currency and have it debited from their account instantly. At the same time, Gordon Brown, as chancellor, started several government IT projects in defence, health and education which are now vastly overbudget, not in use and never going to work properly, and whose combined cost greatly exceeds the 27 billion Sir Fred lost.

At the same time, as the electronic bank transactions move smoothly around the world, TIE has managed to completely disrupt the Edinburgh road system and somehow produce a tram system which has too much capacity for the travel needs of business and leisure in the IT age.

The fact is that most of our private industry is well run compared with the sheer incompetence and overpopulation of the public sector. When the banks are running smoothly again, it is almost certain that the management of the public sector will still be running projects inefficiently and throwing away far more money than has been lost by the financial sector.



Gairloch, Wester Ross