“sacking civil servants is the work of a generation..”

Another clip from last night’s Hearts and Minds. Newton Emerson takes aim at Northern Ireland’s public sector waste and inefficiency, whilst Ian Knox provides the illustrations.

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  • RepublicanStones

    Newts bit about the civil servants being on the dole, albeit at 30 grand a year was quite funny.

  • Finches

    “Newts bit about the civil servants being on the dole”

    Well, he would know! He does work for the government-owned BBC.

  • The Impartial Observer

    Good piece but it’s unfair to say “civil servants on £30k/year.” Most of them earn a lot less than that. If Robinson is serious about cutting waste then maybe he’ll get to grip with the HR Connect project which has gone £130 million over budget, or start asking the Planning Service some hard questions about it’s new IT system which is over 18 months behind schedule and way over budget.

  • Long John Silver

    Northern Ireland is never going to be a good economic performer. There is no indigenous resources around which to build a sound economy. We are always going to be dependant on a higher state sector.

    I recall a Boris Johnson comment I think is valid. Its all very welll to talk about sacking these people, but not any concern is ever given to the trauma this will cause to families. Especially when other jobs will be extremely difficult to get.

  • RepublicanStones

    ‘Well, he would know! He does work for the government-owned BBC.’

    Does the government own the papers his pieces are printed in too?

  • Pigeon Toes

    Why is that whenever anything goes badly wrong in any of our departments they always blame the computer system, rather than the monkeys operating them.

    Its alaso very convenient when certain documents can no longer be found, say in oh lets see an “independent” investigation into alleged wrongdoing…
    Perhaps they should outsource all civil service functions to Primary school children, they couldn’t make any poorer a job of it.

    Some civl servants within DRD it would appear cannot even use a calculator, or perhaps the official involved hasn’t yet moved on to the “big sums”

  • Jo

    The RPA has taken so long because of the non-appearance of the Assembly until 2007 and then its six-month holiday. It is easier perhaps to blame civil servants rather than their political masters, but it is in fact the politicians who make decisions. Or not, as is the case here, i.e., the 11 Plus and water charges.

  • Daisy

    The vast majority of civil servants earn significantly less than £30k. Even middle managers don’t earn that much. Typical of Emerson to take a cheap stereotypical shot at a target because he can’t be bothered checking his facts. And no, I don’t work in the civil service.

  • Shore Road Resident

    Nobody works in the civil service.

  • corporation st cynic

    ‘Nobody works in the civil service. ‘

    Maybe we should all be DLA broo’-hoppers like most of the people on the Shore Road.

  • Shore Road Resident

    There’s not much to choose between them, that’s for sure.

  • corporation st cynic

    Not really- Civil servants pay tax and National Insurance to Government whilst Shore Road spongers draw down free money from Government for sweet FA.

  • Shore Road Resident

    But as they’re paid out of everyone else’s tax and national insurance, that’s not really much of an argument, now is it? In fact, what is your argument here? That everyone should be kicked off the dole before anyone else is put on the dole? Or just those on the Shore Road? Have you performance a Section 75 Equality Impact Assessment on that opinion, or are do you need the rest of us cough up some more tax and national insurance to pay for it?
    Answers on a postcard in triplicate, please.

  • corporation st cynic

    Oh dear, we have hit a raw nerve, Mr. shore road broo-hopper. Like it or not, civil servants provide a public service for which they receive renuneration set by their employers at Government. Whereas those on benefits such as JSA receive an income for not working at all.
    The substance of your sophisticated argument was there was an equivalence between the two, in terms of productivity, which evidently there is not.-now get back to watching daytime TV and picking horses…

  • The Raven

    This IS a generational issue. If Robinson is serious, which he isn’t, then he won’t simply “cut” jobs and budgets.

    For a start he’ll remove the self-perpetuating promotion boards and put every job in the Tele, regardless of the cost.

    I could go on, but I have just two other points to make. Relatively few civil servants are paid £30k+ in proportion to the many on 51 week contracts and £10k per annum.

    Anyone here feel that £10k for a 39 hour week is fair?

    And secondly, not all civil servants are as the posts above would like to portray. But as with everything in NI, it’s much easier to tar all with the same broad brush strokes.

  • aquifer

    “There are no indigenous resources around which to build a sound economy.”

    A sustainable economy would be based on agriculture and renewable energy, and we are not badly off for either. To get added value after that we need brain power applied in the private sector.

    Public sector employment should be time limited or project based to ensure that both talent and sloth regularly leave.

    The generational issue is the generation waiting it out for redundancy packages.

    Let them go, they are just getting in the way of younger people who want to work. Or teaching them crap work habits, or attitudes. Unionists who think it is their state and nationalists who think it owes them a living.

    If ‘post project reviews’ and audits really happened they would speed the incompetent on their way.

    Recruitment and management of people are skills worth developing before people leave the civil service. That way the best will soon be employing others in the private sector. And the worst will know to be grateful for their recession proof employment and final salary pension.

  • Newton Emerson

    As some here seem mightily annoyed by the £30k figure, I may point out that the average public sector wage in NI is £27,000 (the private sector figure is £21,000.)
    With few front-line public sector staff on anything like as much, middle management upwards must be coining it in.
    With regard to public sector workers versus the unemployed, the quickest way for any government to inject spending into an economy is to put benefits up (long-term social damage notwithstanding.) Employing an army of people who will save their disposable income during a recession may actually be deflationary – especially in a country where even people on the minimum wage still pay income tax.

  • Long John Silver

    “A sustainable economy would be based on agriculture and renewable energy, and we are not badly off for either. To get added value after that we need brain power applied in the private sector”

    Admittedly I have limited knowedge of agriculture (and nothing about renewable energy as a source of wealth creation!), but from what I’ve read it is wrong to say Northern Ireland could build a sustainable economy upon an agricultural base. When I was studying I remember reading a book by Graham Walker about the Unionist party, and in it he gave a very convincing line about the economic weaknesses that cripple Northern Ireland. One of the three key points he made, if i remember correctly, was the poor quality of soil making agriculture a weak course of wealth.

    I think the region is always going to be an area that needs extra spending by government, in the forms of jobs and so on. Of course the troubles have meant we get proportionally slightly more than other ULK economic blackspots.

    I think Newton’s argument is only really strong about the wages. The comparison to private sector wages is important, when considered alongside the geneous terms and conditions – flexi and 25 days annual leave. As a public sector worker I have to accept the bar room jibes of mates working in construction or avertising or something else – it is a good life. Although definitley not as cushy as Newton thinks.

  • Glencoppagagh

    We have so many civil servants that either all of them are working below full capacity or a minority are doing very little.
    This is a problem that should have been sorted out before devolution as it was successive direct rule administrations which used the public sector as an indoor relief scheme and also to correct religious imbalance. It is politically impossible for any NI party to address the problem although possibly the new Tory UUP may be more inclined to.
    That being the case, when the begging bowl is empty that’s the end of Stormont. It’s a pity that phoney Tony didn’t look that far ahead.

  • Glencoppagagh

    Is it just me or do other people get error messages telling them their posts have been rejected because the word is incorrect and then find that it has been accepted.
    It’s just a bit irritating.

  • aquifer

    Glen .., do a refresh if the window has been sitting a while and an up to date word will appear for you to use.

    ‘successive direct rule administrations which used the public sector as an indoor relief scheme’

    You got it.

    Now we need to make use of the legions of the overpensioned we need to lose from the public payroll.

    We should teach them how to start businesses, as many are depressingly healthy and will languish expensively for years on pensions otherwise. They should do socially or economically useful stuff, be given introductions to voluntary or campaigning work.

    Never mind the civic forum. A few hundred unsackable untouchable campaigners could be all the civil society we need. And they will be wise to all the tricks used against citizens by government functionaries.

  • Toby


    You are confusing civil servants with the broader public sector in your earnings comparison. Because of the historic linkage with national agreements teachers and nurses etc receive broadly the same terms and conditions as their GB equivalents whilst the pay of the lowly grades in the civil service are based on regional agreement. The latest figures that I have seen would suggest that civil servants receive close to the NI average on pay whilst it is the “nice” public sector workers who are coining it in- to use your phrase.