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Why our Public Services are in ruin. History has the answer!


bobby47
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In the seventies our nation was in ruins. Brought to its knees by the Callaghan and the Labour Government who'd literally bankrupted our economy, we all raced to the ballot box and invited Maggie Thatcher to dig us out of the hole we were in.

Back then public service was a place you went to work if you wanted a steady job, a job for life and a pension after thirty years. Of course back then, the pay for all public service workers was extremely low but the trade off was all the things I've mentioned previously and the chance to live in rent free housing. Also, back then, the hirearchy from within these public services had walked in everyone's shoes, done most of the jobs, they were not academically particularly bright but they knew how to get the job done.

That was true of all our emergency services and it was most definitely true of the Council.

But then something remarkable happened that changed the course of history for all our public services. What was that? Arthur Scargill and the Miners Union who challenged Thatcher.

As a consequence of this important period in our industrial history. Two significant things happened. Over a two year period the Police were awarded two huge pay rises which catapulted them into the high earners bracket and they began to become skilled in riot training.

As for the outcome, you all know what happened but it wasn't this event that impacted upon our public services. The huge pay rises awarded to the Police changed public services forever. Thereafter, the Police began to realise that they didn't have to empty someone who was tall and had some commonsense. No! They opened the doors to the high achieves. Those with a Degree.

In the meantime, the other public services who were still on their pittance of a salary wanted and got what the Police had been given.

Now the other public services were becoming high earners, like the Police, they to opened their doors to the highly qualified academics who then began their climb up the promotion ladder.

By the early nineties, tired of Margaret Thatcher and forgetful of what Old Labour had done to our economy, we raised out and voted in Tony, the liar Blair who, under the banner of New Labour decided to embark upon a vast public service job creation programme and a belief that Public Service Organisations should model themselves on successful private sector management styles.

And they did. Very bloody quickly. Out went the old, in came the new and before you knew it every single Public Service agent began to build its new model of leading from the Centre. Gone were the days when someone got promoted for their operational achievements. They were either cast aside, retired or simply ignored. Decades of knowledge and experience were lost to the new breed of leader who, armed with a fistful of Degrees, no operational experience and an inability to see anything in a straightforward way, they began their relentless change.

By the time we hit the year 2000AD, the public service chant of, 'If we want the best, we have to pay the best', had completely overwhelmed our public services resulting in no self control, a sense of self entitlement and worse than everything, a cultural ethos of outsourcing that saw the suits getting shot of all the dull and uninteresting things.

For them, filling in potholes, cutting the grass, emptying the rubbish and doing all the other mundane and boring stuff was no longer wanted. They thirsted for the interesting areas of business. The areas that they, armed with their degrees and their unusual language could challenge themselves and become involved in the exciting stuff. The sort of stuff you could corner, create an empire and better still, charge up the pole of success, get a bigger salary and a pension pot that you and I would die for.

Now, all the dull and boring stuff has moreorless been outsourced. All our public services are now dominated by the offspring of those who became grateful that Maggie Thatcher decided to give the Police a huge pay rise.

That one single political decision started off a chain of events that's sees you and I staggering around wondering why we've got long bloody grass, why the Council has become a bureaucratic beast of burden, why we've potholes you could hide a domestic cat in and why High Town has been destroyed and abandoned to a bunch if people who have a Degree in Making Love in Sixteen Different Languages.

Me? I regret the three day working weeks of the Seventies when, at four o'clock the power went off we all went home and sat behind a lit candle wondering how the Council still managed to fill in the potholes, cut the grass, empty me bloody bin and do it with a smile on their faces cognisant that we all appreciated their help, albeit their wages were very low and not many of us wanted to do their job.

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Yes Bobby it has hardly been progress for most of us. I think alot about where we are heading nowadays, after 60 odd years of being a member of society, I feel that the aim of the establishment is to exclude anyone who is not a member of their clubs and groups. I have noticed that over the years and certainly within the last two governments there is a tendancy to try to loose us behind a smokescreen of bodies, what I call organisations within organisations. These incestuous bodies can be found everywhere and most duplicate the roles of other organisations and coincidently have the same named individuals calling the shots. Our own council is a good example and I have started a topic entitled Organisations within organisations. I am sure you can add a few examples which we have come across here in Hereford Voice.

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How can we regain the spirit of public service now when they are all run like businesses? Whats the solution? Seems like we have to scrap what we have and start again. If you think the council is bad look at what their doing to the NHS!

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Jonny lad, you've given the correct answer to your own question. We start again. Mind, before we do, there must be a political will to dismantle this design to 'manage' and that'll only arrive when a Local Authority goes bust, belly up and someone on high says 'lets say it as it is. This Council is bankrupt and there's no point pretending otherwise'.

Then, and only then can they start again building slowly, sensibly and learning from the mistakes of the past. In short Jonny, we've gotta hit rock bottom before anything will change.

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  • 6 months later...

How bad does it have to get before we are declared bankrupt and Government steps in ? Can't come soon enough for me!

 

Article in the Guardian today about the findings of the National Audit Office, which last week published a report highlighting the fact that more than half of councils in England are at of risk financial failure within the next five years.

 

John Harris and Rowena Mason
The Guardian, Monday 24 November 2014
 
Funding crisis leaves Newcastle facing ‘impossible cuts’ and social unrest
 
Leader of city council says ‘embers of unrest are starting to smoulder’ with many authorities on brink of financial collapse
 
The city of Newcastle is already seeing the first signs of social unrest because of funding cuts that threaten to make provision of many public services “completely untenable†by 2017, the council’s Labour leader has warned.
 
Nick Forbes, who has run Newcastle city council since 2011, said his local authority is already heading towards the realm of “impossible cuts†to social care, including transport for disabled children, but he is determined not to be in the first or second wave of councils that “goes downâ€.
 
Speaking to the Guardian, he said: “You can see the embers of unrest starting to smoulder. Nationally, you see it in that drift to parties outside the mainstream. Locally, we see it in a far greater profile of far right marches through the city, far left marches through the city … we see people in abject poverty, coming through our service centres daily.â€
 
One major worry is future cuts to social care for children at a time of ongoing sexual exploitation cases, since Whitehall cash for this area has already been cut by 32%, while need is up by 40%.
 
“My very real concern is that … well, if this level of cuts continue, even our statutory responsibilities, like children’s social care, will be affected. What frustrates me like nothing else is how deaf government is to this argument,†he added.
 
His comments reinforce the findings of the National Audit Office, which last week published a report highlighting the fact that more than half of councils in England are at of risk financial failure within the next five years.
 
Forbes also suggested he would be grateful for more “solidarity†from some in the national Labour party. He said he had spoken to Ed Miliband “in passing†and the only conversation he has had with Ed Balls, the shadow chancellor “ended in an argument – about whether [regional] devolution is the right approachâ€.
 
“I think it is, but his view was: ‘We can’t all move at the same speed, and therefore we’ve got to move at the speed of the slowest’ – to paraphrase,†he said.
 
“I was irritated, because it reinforced the Westminster-centric mentality: the idea that you get into power, to pull levers to make lives better for people. But I think that experience has shown that they’re rubber levers. People pull them but nothing happens. It makes our politics look even more hollow.â€
 
Forbes said his strong message to the Labour frontbench was that “unless there is urgent and fundamental reform of local government finance within the first year of a Labour government, we will have Labour councils falling over, financiallyâ€.
 
“The seeds have been sown over the last five years for that to happen, and the crisis is likely to hit in the next couple of years,†he said.
 
Asked about how a Labour government would help cities like Newcastle if in power, Hilary Benn, the shadow local government secretary, said the party was “committed to a fairer funding formula and longer term budgets to help councils plan ahead in the very difficult circumstances they faceâ€.
 
“As everyone knows, David Cameron has hit certain communities really hard by unfairly taking most money away from the most deprived areas,†he said. “And Ed Miliband has responded to local government’s call for more devolution by setting out our ambitious plans to pass powers and finance back to city and county regions.â€
 
Chi Onwurah, a Labour shadow minister and MP for Newcastle upon Tyne Central, echoed the concerns of Forbes, saying she was also very worried about the city’s financial position in the future but stressed it was currently putting forward a balanced budget.
 
She also said she had seen signs of local unrest over issues like bin collection, which has moved to once every fortnight.
 
“It’s certainly the case there are groups seeking to exploit divisions, that are consequences of these cuts,†she said.
 
“There are groups blaming litter on certain ethnic groups. Of course, that’s going to cause divisions and lay the foundations for unrest. That is a very clear example of where funding cuts have caused increased divisions in communities you would hope to be cohesive.â€
 
Nick Brown, the Labour former chief whip and MP for Newcastle upon Tyne East, said the Labour party’s plans to create a fairer council funding formula would help Newcastle substantially but another significant factor in improving the city’s fortunes would be boosting private sector investment.
 
“Newcastle is a great place to work and live. We need to strengthen and broaden the private sector employment base to end once and for all the scourge of long term unemployment,†he said.
 
Figures produced by Newcastle have shown that many northern communities have been hit particularly badly by government spending cuts compared with the south, because of the way funding is calculated.
 
But ahead of the election, the coalition parties have both joined Labour in trying to woo northern cities with new transport and infrastructure initiatives, as well as promises of regional devolution.
 
George Osborne, the chancellor, unveiled his plans to create a “northern powerhouse†earlier this year, and may offer more cash for infrastructure at the autumn statement. Miliband has said he would create “regional economic powerhouses†and the Lib Dem leader, Nick Clegg, launched a new project called Northern Futures.
 
Responding to Forbes’s claims, Kris Hopkins, a Conservative local government minister, said: “Every bit of the public sector needs to do their bit to tackle the deficit left by the Labour government, including local government, which accounts for a quarter of all public spending.
 
“This government continues to deliver a fair settlement to every part of the country – north and south, rural and urban, metropolitan and shire. The reality is since 2010 budgets have been balanced, council tax has fallen by 11% in real terms and public satisfaction with local government has been maintained.â€

 

Note in the September expenditure figures that Balfour Beatty was handed £4,520,091.03 out of a monthly expenditure of £19,115,388.06. The monthly expenditure appears to be going through the roof. It usually runs between 10 to 15 million pounds a month. I wonder if this council is going to be amongst those above heading for trouble. I suppose it doesn't really matter as they will leave it for someone else to sort out after the elections in May 2015.

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BB are no doubt desperate for money as they slide towards oblivion - a £20m per annum contract is £1.66m per month. Questions need to be asked why we are billed almost 3 times that in September. I believe BB have been in place for more than 12 months now - time to add up the annual spend. 

 

I've no doubt there is truth in mgelliland's last sentence - in addition, gold plated pensions, themselves based on hugely inflated salaries, have to be protected above anything. When that's done, there's little left to spend on real services, particularly when we can all cite examples of profligate waste and spending still within the Council.

 

With elections coming, we have the classic local government reorganisation to break audit chains and bury evidence. In addition, the elections will bring new ward boundaries - less councillors and smaller wards in the City, so one councillor per ward.

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BB are no doubt desperate for money as they slide towards oblivion - a £20m per annum contract is £1.66m per month. Questions need to be asked why we are billed almost 3 times that in September. I believe BB have been in place for more than 12 months now - time to add up the annual spend. 

 

I've no doubt there is truth in mgelliland's last sentence - in addition, gold plated pensions, themselves based on hugely inflated salaries, have to be protected above anything. When that's done, there's little left to spend on real services, particularly when we can all cite examples of profligate waste and spending still within the Council.

 

With elections coming, we have the classic local government reorganisation to break audit chains and bury evidence. In addition, the elections will bring new ward boundaries - less councillors and smaller wards in the City, so one councillor per ward.

Yes it's just incredible. Even if we throw out all the garbage councillors/politicians after the next election ( if there is a bin collection by then) ...the hidden IED,s of financial miss management may take years to clear up whilst those responsible cash in their fat chips and run off to that nice gaff in the country.I'm not sure that even sleepy Herefordshire will escape those bloody frustrated with what's going on.

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  • 2 months later...

The council are so broke that they are considering employing social workers from outside the UK. Why not employ Balfour Beatty to do it they only need to pop round every couple of months to check up on everybody. I am sure they will charge us only a couple of billion quid.

 

Tuesday 27 January 2015 in Hereford Times News by Bill Tanner
 
 
The council confirmed that it - like Wye Valley NHS Trust - it was actively recruiting in the EU.
 
As reported by the Hereford Times, the council has long running issues over the recruitment and retention of social workers, particularly in children's services.
 
Last year, the focus of recruitment was on bringing experienced social workers back, addressing a need for permanent staff to boost teams heavily dependent on interims.
 
With the "inadequate" grading from OFSTED gone, the service is focussed on improvement and has been recognised nationally as such.
 
But competition for social workers is tough, with the council up against authorities across the West Midlands in seeking permanent appointments.
 
So the search has headed to the EU, primarily Spain and Romania, where social workers have very similar training and their qualification is accepted by the UK's Health and Care Professions Council.
 
The move also reflects the county's increasing diversity.
 
Cllr Jeremy Millar, cabinet member, young people and children's wellbeing said the council was still keeping current social service staffing levels with "costly" agency workers, but permanent appointments were now the priority.
 
Permanent staff also offered a "continuity of service" to children and families sometimes be lost with temporary arrangements, he said.

 

 

On a more serious note here is a document:

 

 
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