Tag Archives: public sector

Students smashing shop windows in London

Students are tearing up London today. There are riots as a reaction to the government plans to triple the maximum annual tuition fee, from £3,000 to £9,000.

I can understand the depth of feeling. I think that as we face increased global competition, a country like the UK has to educate our young people if they are to compete. We can’t compete internationally with an uneducated workforce – low-cost skills can easily be sourced elsewhere for much less than they cost locally in the UK.

And I was recently working in Malta, the smallest EU nation, where they still pay students to study. Course fees are all covered by the government and the students receive a stipend… cash straight into their pocket. It used to be like that when I was a student in the 1980s, though I was studying right towards the end of the glory days when it was free to study and you got a grant just for being a student.

Tripling the cost of education when we need more educated young people is outrageous, but I don’t think any students have helped their cause today by smashing up London. Most people in the UK are more concerned about the 500,000 public-sector jobs that are about to vanish – and probably a similar number in the private sector that were supporting those public-sector people. That’s a million people on the dole soon.

Do the students really think that their desire to study for free is considered more urgent or important than millions of workers being cast out to the wilderness of unemployment?

The NUS can’t demand that Lib Dem politicians keep their pledges. Our electoral system created a coalition. That meant the two parties agreed to compromise and one of the pledges made by the Lib Dems was lost in the agreement. End of story. Do they really think that smashing up the city is going to get Nick Clegg to change his mind on this? And much as I sympathise with them, I’m afraid most people won’t be sympathetic… students tearing up the city and breaking windows while others lose their jobs.

Where do you think public sympathy is going to go?

Lse library

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How much is too much?

The British Prime Minister, David Cameron, earns £142,500 a year. He actually took a 5% pay cut when he took up the position, a political move to show sympathy with those struggling along in tough post-recession times.

Now a new survey has revealed that 9,000 public sector workers earn more than the Prime Minister. But why should anyone be shocked?

The Prime Minister’s salary is artificially low and kept that way for political reasons, because the public don’t like to see elected officials earning too much cash. There is a strong argument for paying them more, because by paying them the market rate for an official with a large responsibility, you remove the potential for fraud. The 2009 expenses scandal shows that expenses were ‘topping up’ MP salaries and countries like Singapore insist on paying their elected officials a high basic rate, with very few additional perks to avoid these kind of issues.

Compare this to the private sector – Chief Executives of major British companies can now expect salaries of above £1m. About a quarter of the FTSE 100 chiefs earn in excess of £5m a year.

Compare these wages to the Prime Minister and it looks more like he is running the country as a hobby, just banking the experience for a future of earning money on the lecture circuit.

So why shouldn’t there be senior public sector officials earning more than the Prime Minister? They are not elected into a position that needs them to constantly pander to voters. They are appointed and given a budget and targets – if they do a good job at managing a huge budget and team of thousands, then why can’t they earn a similar rate to the private sector?

Or should we expect everyone to work in the public sector for peanuts – as a gift to the nation?
Westminster Station

CW500 Club on Innovation

I went last night to the Computer Weekly CW500 club to hear the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) CTO, James Gardner, speaking about innovation. I was tweeting during the event on the @cw500 twitter account to ensure that there was a live feed of information about what Gardner was saying. You can read my tweets listed below – the most recent is at the top, so if you want to read them in order then you need to go to the bottom of the page and scroll up.

There will be more comprehensive coverage of the event in the next issue of Computer Weekly – this is just the immediate coverage I was writing online as James was speaking.

James is a very good speaker and once again the CW500 club had a really good event. The speakers only talk for about 10 minutes and then do the rest of the time as an ongoing Q&A with the audience. Why aren’t more events like this?

I did really like his view on innovation, especially the observations around how much academic literature there is out there. We know innovation is good for us, but while things are running smoothly nobody wants to innovate. It always takes a near-death experience to create innovation.

How true. And how refreshing to hear it from a senior guy in the public sector, rather than an innovation ‘guru’ claiming innovation will do everything you ever wanted for your company…

Angelica Mari from Computer Weekly

now its time for drinks… Wine is getting warm
about 21 hours ago via dabr
gardner: all the literature is there but if things are all going ok then why innovate
about 21 hours ago via dabr
gardner: you really need a near death experience or it will never happen
about 21 hours ago via dabr
gardner: innovation units fail because they dont create regular demonstrable returns
about 21 hours ago via dabr
gardner: peer support and recognition and making a diff worth more than money
about 21 hours ago via dabr
gardner: best to co-opt the enemies as you lose political capital fighting all the time
about 21 hours ago via dabr
gardner: therefore most innovation plans die within 18 months
about 21 hours ago via dabr
gardner: focus has to be on keeping the lights on
about 21 hours ago via dabr
gardner: the cio is in a very hard position. Hard to ever innovate
about 21 hours ago via dabr
gardner: if people innovate outside their area they need support
about 21 hours ago via dabr
gardner: you can find people get *too* involved in innovation
about 21 hours ago via dabr
gardner: cultural change is very hard to achieve
about 21 hours ago via dabr
gardner: staff engaged in ideastream are better engaged
about 21 hours ago via dabr
gardner: service is not just functional
about 21 hours ago via dabr
gardner: we expect people to start demanding better interactions soon
about 21 hours ago via dabr
gardner: disconnect between type of service offered and what people expect
about 21 hours ago via dabr
gardner: maybe if we had an art mentality in the dwp rather than engineers it wd be better
about 22 hours ago via dabr
gardner: technologists can build beautiful systems
about 22 hours ago via dabr
gardner: i disagree that technical work is not creative and artistic
about 22 hours ago via dabr
gardner: i dont believe in the single hero innovator #cw500
about 22 hours ago via dabr
gardner: egg or first direct are not just one leader. More than just an idea #cw500
about 22 hours ago via dabr
gardner: if you build it they will come does not happen often
about 22 hours ago via dabr
gardner: network effect really important to get more involved
about 22 hours ago via dabr
gardner: is it to keep up or to get ahead?
about 22 hours ago via dabr
gardner: #cw500 only a few places you can innovate anyway… Radical or incremental
about 22 hours ago via dabr
gardner: not always possible to bring everyone along
about 22 hours ago via dabr
gardner: present environment is a great opportunity for change
about 22 hours ago via dabr
gardner: when you have a burning platform you can make changes
about 22 hours ago via dabr
gardner: you need a near death experience to make innovation happen
about 22 hours ago via dabr
gardner: better to get innovation in a silo than none at all
about 22 hours ago via dabr
gardner: time of austerity… Need to collaborate across public sector
about 22 hours ago via dabr
gardner: if you are going to manage innovation you must be prepared to be fired
about 22 hours ago via dabr
gardner: at lloyds we processed about 1200 new ideas a month
about 22 hours ago via dabr
gardner: most people are resistant to change anyway
about 22 hours ago via dabr
gardner: public sector innovation is no different to private
about 22 hours ago via dabr
gardner: you can shift a direction. Much harder to create radical change
about 22 hours ago via dabr
gardner: what radical innovation has microsoft created?
about 22 hours ago via dabr
gardner: pfizer did a great job repurposing viagra
about 22 hours ago via dabr
gardner: apple just knows the direction of travel and creates paradigm shift
about 22 hours ago via dabr
gardner: apple is not innovating. They are creating revolutions
about 22 hours ago via dabr
gardner: microsoft is a failure in terms of innovation
about 22 hours ago via dabr
gardner: caixa navarra is an amazing example of play to win innovation
about 22 hours ago via dabr
gardner: imagine a bank telling you how much they made from you
about 22 hours ago via dabr
gardner: but most people want play not to lose innovation
about 22 hours ago via dabr
gardner: play to win innovation means you put it at the centre of all you do
about 22 hours ago via dabr
gardner: we ask the crowd to manage the suggestion box?
about 22 hours ago via dabr
gardner: do any suggestion schemes really work?
about 22 hours ago via dabr
gardner: we pay our own currency to staff who have great ideas
about 22 hours ago via dabr
gardner: many of the bank systems i worked on are similar to the dept #cw500
about 22 hours ago via dabr
james gardner cto at dwp now speaking on innovation #cw500
about 22 hours ago via dabr
all present in lancaster hotel now for the #cw500 event
about 23 hours ago via dabr

James Gardner, CTO of the DWP

Tesco Bank. Your time has come…

The government is now throwing more money at the UK banking system.

As a nation, we really had no choice, but to bail out the banks. Hank Paulson allowed Lehman Brothers to collapse in the US thinking that the market would correct itself if a weak bank is allowed to fail. Instead, he tipped the whole banking system into further decline.

The government is seeking more competition in UK retail banking. They want to offload the public sector ownership of the banks they saved back to new market entrants. And it’s essential this happens. Listen to the press and the public on the radio phone-ins.

Nobody trusts the existing banks anymore. They are viewed as corrupt and with leaders like Fred Goodwin sailing into the sunset with millions in pension money, who can blame them?

We can go one of two ways.

State-owned banking is one choice. The government has already made it clear that they don’t like this option and they want to offload their present assets to the private sector – and this would happen even faster if (when) the Tory government is elected next spring.

So, our only really option is the new market entrants coming in and cleaning up the banks – like James Stewart in ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’… walk this way Bank of Tesco.