Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Why Government is so expensive, part II

A few days ago I wrote about why government is so expensive, and why the Conservatives are right that it is not only better to reduce the cost of government (rather than increase taxes) to fix Labour's debt crisis, it is mandatory. I said:
 'Partnership working' is another recent entry in public sector buzzword bingo - in theory, great, it means (I think) public bodies working together to try running services better. In practice, there are pots of money available from government for their pet projects, whole teams of project managers and press officers producing plans to demonstrate that the right boxes are being ticked to show people are working together - along with endless meetings and powerpoint presentations taking up vast amounts of time, and involving senior public sector employees
As if by magic, an example turns up. The Community Alcohol Partnership from the humble Councillor's point of view is simply the police working with trading standards to tackle underage drinking, and they had been working in Coleridge as part of a pilot project. They visited places like Coleridge Rec on a friday or saturday night in response to complaints about under-age drinking, so the police can confiscate alcohol and contact parents as necessary, and trading standards can work with the shops who sold the alcohol to find out how it came into the possession of under 18s, and try to stop those sales in future.

All very sensible - except all seemed to have gone quiet from the community alcohol partnership, so this week I made enquiries as to what had happened to it - here is the reply:

As you had observed there has been less activity in recent weeks.
There are a couple of reasons for this.  Firstly, the Adult Alcohol Commissioning Group are now acting as the CAP Board to oversee the roll-out of all CAPs in the county (including the existing ones) This measure was put in place earlier this year primarily to address some of the issues that had arisen. For example, they found that, without any formal structure or agreements, the representation of some partners on the working group changed several times - and some new representatives did not consider CAP a priority. This made it difficult to undertake any activities requiring input of certain partners.
The CAP Board will oversee and commit resources to the CAP (i.e. influence the CAP on the ground - making sure the working group has the necessary resources to deliver the relevant activities) and by getting formal agreements signed by each partner (SLAs) of their contribution to the scheme. A Terms of Reference for the working group and the SLAs will be drafted shortly and we hope to have these signed ASAP.
In addition, there is currently an evaluation of the CAP's work by xxx Ltd which will identify how the CAP can be improved as they move forward. It is anticipated that some of the aforementioned formal agreements and structures will be among the suggested improvements going forward. Once the evaluation report is published the CAP Board can consider the findings and influence how the CAP continues in the city.
And to think that if you believe Labour, it is vital we have so much government and any cost cutting would immediately impact doctors, nurses and teachers on the front line - absolute nonsense. One Conservative policy I really like is the idea of a directly elected police chief. Someone local residents can hold accountable, and to thom they could say that they just want the police to work with other groups to tackle the problem of underage drinking in their neighbourhood, and if they can't do it without a commissioning group, an oversight board, contracts, service level agreements, and a consultants report, they won't be in charge for very much longer...


NickW said...

The great thing about working in the private sector is you are given a task and resources and left to get on with the job. Objectives are largely clear and defined

In contrast the poor old Police Officer or TSO doing a frontline job has to carry the whole weight of Government 'Parasitocracy' on his / her back with vague and often moving goal posts.

Do a freedom of information request on any Council for a list of job titles and I am fairly confident the average person on the street wouldn't have a clue what half the job entails. I suspect if many explained what they did the average person would still see no purpose. This is a major problem - no role identity. Everyone knows what the dustman does and what purpose and use he has to society. Can the same be said for the Councils 'Strategic Diversity and Community cohesion Partnership Advisor'?

There is a good start for the forthcoming cull - can Public Servants justify their existence and draw on the public purse?

Nick W said...

In terms of discussing Local Government efficiency savings in the whole context of Government finance really is rearranging the deckchairs on the Titanic.

This story (even allowing for that fact its from the the Daily Wail) sums up what is so so wrong with this Country and why if something isn't done now we will end up a 3rd world state.


It seems the golden ticket now for Mr Davey (and millions like him) is to do the Biblical thing. Mrs. knocks out another kid, punch the Pinata (us) and lots of free stuff comes raining down.

In the meantime the real working and middle classes have been economically sterilised by Browns taxes to pay for this. According to the Institute of Fiscal Studies since 1997 a non working couple are £3500 better off. A working couple £2500 worse off. As for childless couples / singles......

The Tories have to address this. If not they are no more fit for Government than Liebour is.