Opinion – Public Services Reform : Zooming in on the Risks of Implementing Shared Services – John Gelmini

Dr Alf is correct.

Having been personally involved in the largest piece of Local Authority transformation ever undertaken in the UK (An East Anglian County Council), I know that there is a scarcity of ambition for what can and should be achieved in this area.
We have 43 English County Councils, 43 constabularies, 43 fire commands.

In Scotland, we have 8 County Councils but police and fire commands have been merged to form 1 of each.

Wales, an economic basket-case of monumental proportions we have 6 County Councils, 6 police constabularies and 6 fire commands and Northern Ireland has 6 Counties, 1 Police Service of Northern Ireland and 6 fire commands.

On top of this, we have Unitary Authorities and District and Borough Councils making a total of 3,500 councils.

Most County Councils have their own call centers, some of which are shared with the police, emergency services and District Councils but many which are standalone.
Others outsource Highways to Mouchel, Education/Childrens Services to Capita PLC, Parking to people like Serco PLC , street cleaning to Serco Plc and strategically insource HR and IT to people like Capita PLC and IBM and BT Global Services.

Worker productivity in Local Authorities is just 32%, or 70 days of actual work out of a possible 220 working days (Source:Knox D’Arcy and ONS); absenteeism is 9 days a year on average, versus 6 or less for the private sector and layering in terms of bogus grades and “assistants” is rife creating overmanning and large numbers of non jobs.

Out of 10,000 employees in the County Council I worked in which was a 3 star authority (1 star-bottom , 2 star second from bottom, 3 star upper 25%, 4 star top 10%), I calculated, as did IBM Global Services that services could be improved to Lean /EFQM standards and staff numbers cut by 6,500 people).
Applying that logic to the UK as a whole one could:

1) Reduce the number of councils to 12 for England,1 for Wales,1 for Scotland and 1 for Norther n Ireland and 1 for Greater London

2) Abolish all District,Borough,Metropolitan Borough and London Borough Councils,abolish City Councils and so called Unitary Authorities.

Replace all of them with a rotating panel of outsourced provision

3) Create 4 shared services centers for police, fire, ambulance, social services and general communications for England, 1 for Scotland, 1 for Wales, 1 for London and 1 for Northern Ireland and have outsourced mirrored contingency,overflowing and disaster recovery provision on a 1 for 1 basis.

4) Create structures with no more than 5 layers (top to bottom) and spans of control of 1 to 10 people.

Abolish assistant roles, the revolving door and apply strict headcount limits per function

5) Outsource all non-core functions and purchasing, facilities management, website hosting and printing.

Create formula for capturing “embedded value ” in each outsourcing contract and ensure that outsourcing agreements are prepared and negotiated by skilled outsourcing lawyers not council officials and legal departments who do not know what they are doing and are prone ,to quote the “Donald” to having “their lunch eaten ” by outsourcing lawyers acting for the suppliers of outsourcing services.)

John Gelmini

Opinion – ‘My supermarket wage is so low I use a food bank – ringing food through makes me angry’ – Ros Wynne Jones – Mirror Online – John Gelmini

Another interesting post from Dr Alf but no conclusion from the Mirror or indeed anyone else.

There is nothing new in the fact that austerity and cuts fall disproportionately heavily on those at the bottom, particularly those in low wage private sector jobs.

There are essentially 4 problems in the UK which no political party is attempting to address:

1) The austerity when it was applied was too timid and has been going on for far too long.

The maximum period for austerity to be effective as we see with both Canada and Eire is 2 years.

The desired effect has to be a short sharp shock and the wholesale napalming of unessential public sector workers to bring the public sector down to an affordable size.

What has happened is that mendacious Local Authority Chief Executives, Civil Service Mandarins and Local Authority “Service Directorate” heads have all conspired to avoid cuts to their own jobs and have failed to reform anything.

The result is an un-affordable public sector, higher than normal business costs and a squeeze on employment at the bottom.

2) UK worker productivity is now 20th in the world and 16% below the average for the G7.

Employers at Times 1000 Chief Executive level fall into this category as well but set a poor example by paying themselves about 21% more this year versus last year whilst holding down pay for everyone else.

The Government instead of confronting the issue and cutting public holidays does nothing to either address the growing inequality of pay in the country or the fact that bossesx are overpaying themselves without improving corporate performance (We have just 400 world class companies out of 6 million registered at Companies House whereas Germany has 2,500 even with its economy slowing down.

The Government also does nothing to bring errant local authorities to heel and does nothing to curb the growth of civil service numbers which is unwarranted and unsustainable

3) Automation, uncontrolled immigration and much higher productivity from foreign workers now means that there are 47 people chasing each vacancy and that 85% of the vacancies are filled by non indigenous members of the population.

Many of the more menial jobs are done by people from other places because too many indigenous English, Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish people are not prepared to do them.

This is why the council houses that Harold MacMillan wanted to build had to be made from bricks manufactured by impoverished Italians who were brought into the UK by London Brick Company for that purpose during the 196’s. The 1 million Poles and 1 million Lithuanians, Latvians, Bulgarians, Romanians and other Eastern Europeans now work in hotels, shops, restaurants, farms, pack-houses, distribution centers, the construction industry and a whole host of areas that used to be the province of the C1, C2, D and E social classes that once comprised the “British Working Class”.

Employers want the more hard working and efficient foreign workers not the un-competitive British workers whose lack of productivity has seen the UK lose shipbuilding to the South Koreans, electronics to the Japanese and South Koreans, footwear to the Chinese, toy-making to the Chinese, car manufacturing to Germany , South Korea and Japan, software development to India.

4) The country still fails to make enough of the things that people want or sell enough of those things to bring in enough foreign exchange and very few people in the country at any level understand that the world does not owe us or them a living.

The gap between those at the top of the pile and those at the bottom is set to get wider and until people riot and shareholders start sacking unproductive and overpaid directors nothing will be done.

The odds are stacked against people like this unfortunate woman operating her supermarket checkout because not too long from now even her lowly paid position will be replaced by an automated checkout which means she will have no job at all and will be on the dole.

John Gelmini

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