“The sort of figures that are being talked about..”

With our two lyncathropes summoned to a summit meeting of regional First Ministers by the UK’s Prime Minister, the Belfast Telegraph reports suggestions of an additional shortfall of up to £200million for the Northern Ireland administration to, erm, administer next year. Then there’s the abandoned Workplace 2010 to account for.. and confidential memos revealing that HRConnect is misfiring.. How are those assets anyway? That Treasury Committee meeting could be very interesting.. Time to revisit those subsidies? [What!? Make an un-populist political decision? – Ed]

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    The competence of the Executive is seriously in question now as their ability to manage budgets and political judgement are flawed. The Workplace 2010 and HR Connect fiascos show that this Executive is out of it’s depth. This enthusism for Public/Private Initiatives so warmly embraced by ALL the main parties AND their ministers has now been exposed and tens of millions of taxpayers monies have been wasted. HR Connect has been a total disaster and that’s why the trade union NIPSA is holding a demonstration tomorrow outside the HR Connect building in Belfast City Centre @ 12.15 pm. More worringly Margaret Ritchie and the Executive are pressing ahead with the totally crazy plan to reduce from 35 to 18 the number of Jobs & Benefits Offices across the North. At a time when unemployment is rocketing we are about to see their political incompetence on a grand scale. They intend to cut and move 100’s of staff from the benefits system and force others to travel up to 50 miles a day to other offices. Madness but typical of this right wing anti-employee Executive. They haven’t a clue.

  • Sammy

    HRconnect is a joke I got my payslip today £400 short-mortgage due out next Monday. 3rd month in a row my pay has been incorrect. At least I got some money I know some staff got nothing

  • Dessertspoon

    Don’t worry Sammy when all the Civil Service jobs are cut your payslip may well be a distant memory. It won’t be the Ministers and the other Politicians that will pay for the mistakes it will be you and I! As usual!

  • Sean Og

    The problem with NIPSA members is that they think the public service is there to provide them with a handy job for life where they can pretty much come and go as they please. They don’t seem to under stand the words public & service when they are put together.

    I remember them striking a few years ago because managers wanted to keep the dole offices open to 5.00pm rather than shut up shop 3.30pm!!

    I have read the Social Security Review and I must say it is one of the few sensible bits of paper to come out of Stormont in a long while. I hope Margaret Ritchie has the balls to push it through.

    On a day when Wright Brothers announce massive redundancies it’s hard to feel sorry for under-worked & overpaid civil servants, serving their time to get a handsome non-contributory pension, and complaining that they may have to travel a few miles down to road to the office.

    Now Work Place 2010 – that’s an entirely different matter and one for the Public Accounts Committee I think.

  • DC

    Ah the blow back continues to blow hard not helped of course by having to pick up and deal with 30 years worth of an unaccountable public sector.

    Yes Martin you did get the executive and the institutions up, but sadly those nice 10 years or so of easy money are over hope you enjoy and Peter enjoy the blow back from messing around during the good years.

    Same message goes to the DUP. You really really didn’t fix the roof when the sun was shining did you? You clearly messed about on all fronts ruining your unionist brothers, proven to be hypocrites for having articulated the countless, contrived, Unionist grievances to GFA change, that party hasn’t corrected or properly changed any of it.

    The DUP say they are not bound by the GFA, but please let’s face it, it’s like saying we are not really affected by the 1688 Revolution.

    And I haven’t even started on the running down and demoralising of our police service by the DUP only to have to face reality and build it up again – nice work DUPERS, shame the money is being hit on even that policing front too.

    Ah – all very interesting.

  • Pigeon Toes

    Civil servants facing redundancy.

    Awww my heart bleeds. Wonder if they will be able to fill in their dole forms truthfully?

  • Pigeon Toes

    Whats the cliché?

    “What goes around….”

  • The Raven

    Oh! I’m just in time for the almost-monthly “fire the civil servants” line!

    So. Which civil servants are going? And, if we follow through on this particular employment massacre, what are the impacts of £200m-worth of civil service cuts, which I am assuming y’all would like to see happen overnight?

    Anyone? Anyone…?

    Cliche indeed…

  • Take the £200m off your over-generous pensions and you’ll still be better off than those in the productive sector.

  • The Raven

    Sorry Hawk, was that aimed at me? I’m not a civil servant. So, you’ll forgive me if I don’t rise to your post beyond this paragraph. I work with and within the “productive” sector, as you call it.

    Here’s the point I was driving at, that you obviously missed along the way. I admit to this being exceptionally simplistic. And I’m only taking direct “people” cuts, as opposed to cuts in services.

    Taking an average civil servant wage, at about £32k, including costs (I’m taking a midway point between all the AOs and the Under-secretaries) would be about 6000 extra people on the dole. That would take us up to 44,000 unemployed.

    Happy with that? Think the local economy will be better off in the short-term without that spending power to back it up?

    Oh I just *love* it when the Daily Mail readers arrive.

  • Sean Og

    Raven – I like your approach to economics.

    Why don’t we just employ all of the unemployed in the Civil Service? Why didn’t Gordon Brown think of that?

    I think you are really on to something.

    He could close all the car plants and steel plants and transfer the employees to the civil service. Problems sloved!!

    Just one small point. Where does the money come from to play all of the Civil Service salaries?

  • The Raven

    Sean, it’s not an approach to economics, but your sarcasm is noted and much appreciated for the pith it brings. I leave economics to people who like to post in on the banking threads in here. I’m only thinking of the short-term (we’ll come back to that phrase) effects of an extra 6000 people unemployed in the North on health, housing, retail, wee sectors like that.

    The point I am making is not that the civil service should be beyond the threat of unemployment. My point is, is that it should be (*have been*) a slow and controlled process, which should have begun ten years ago.

    It should have begun when the Assembly took power. And instead it just became part of the mantra that every absentee landlord Minister from across the water engaged in: “I *will* tackle the burdensome public sector in Northern Ireland (except I won’t say when but it sure sounds good)”. Shit, even Robinson was at it a couple of months ago.

    My own stamping ground up here on the North Coast is particularly hard-hit – 1400 in Coleraine, 1200 in Limavady, even Moyle is getting hammered – and no-one lives there. Except Nevin. But do we want another 500 people on those lists almost overnight? No. The retail sector alone couldn’t take the hit.

    What? You think they’re all going to sign up for the Start A Business Programme, and become overnight successes? You think they’re all going to find employment within a week or two?

    By the way – at what point did I suggest your radical strategy of employing everyone as a civil servant – I’ve been re-reading what I wrote, and I can’t put my finger on it. So I give full credit to the idea as being one of yours.

    I have made this point several times in previous threads, but time and again, it’s just easier for people to point the finger of blame and cry “sack them all”. I’ve no problem with that – except when people don’t think the immediate consequences through. Hence why I used the word “short-term” in my initial reply.


    There’s no doubt the private sector is having a tough time. However there are those who won’t be happy until the public sector is ravaged and destroyed so that civil servants are equally as bad off as them. Instead of putting the blame where it lies, the greedy bankers, corrupt traders and incompetent government policy, many take the easy option. Economists, the CBI, central government and other right wing organisations love this. Turn the workers against each other and take the heat off the guilty. It’s classic capitalism. Given the disastrous involvement of the private sector in public government like HR Connect & Workplace 2010 who do people now propose pay their benefits, issue motor tax certificates, birth certificates, National Insurance issues etc? As we can see if you left this to the greedy multinationals the country would collapse. As for the standard ‘lazy Civil Servants’ line I would like some of you to spend a week on the front line of a dole office. The staff there are punchbags for failed government policy and take abuse, threats and intimidation 8 hours a day 5 days a week. Most of the ‘sack ’em all’ brigade wouldn’t last 5 mins in that working environment.

  • edward


    I still don’t get the werewolf referance, could you please explain

  • daisy

    Anyone know how much the consultants on these failed projects were paid?

  • Glencoppagagh

    Raven et al
    You would have to accept that here is much disguised unemployment in the public sector. After all it was used as a job creation scheme for teh best part of 30 years under direct rule.
    However, I agree that now is not teh best time to be culling BUT IT WOULD BE A VERY GOOD TIME TO REDUCE PUBLIC SECTOR WAGES.
    For example, how can anyone justify the average GP in NI earning £100,000? How many people had salaries of that size in the private sector, even in the good times. Such anomalies are simply immoral.

  • “and no-one lives there. Except Nevin.”

    Raven, it looks as if I’m going to have to keep this £100,000 to myself 🙁

    £100,000 bill for public art scheme

    Published Date: 28 January 2009

    A PUBLIC art scheme at Ballycastle Seafront and Rathlin Harbour will cost £100,000 if it goes ahead, it has emerged.

    A Moyle Council report said: ‘Causeway Coast and Glens Heritage Trust (CCGHT) are developing a project called the ‘Interpretation Project for the Causeway Coastal Route (Tourism Development Scheme – Programme for Government)’.

    All I have to do is persuade Arlene and the odd rascals in MDC to say YES 🙂

  • The Raven

    Glencoppagh – fully agree. Problem with this is, where do you start. Binman with four kids – public sector, but not a civil servant – is asked to take a 10 or even 5% hit. Would he agree to it?

    Administrative assistant in the Civil Service – 12 grand a year? (If I am wrong here, correct me). Can he/she afford it?

    I think you’re right, but it would be difficult to target the highest paid only.

    Nevin – Blogger of the Year MORE than deserves such a fine scheme in his manor!

  • Glencoppagagh

    “I think you’re right, but it would be difficult to target the highest paid only”

    Why not? It’s not as if pay increases are always uniform across the public sector. Some groups are always able to gouge out more than others.
    It’s as much about restoring incentives as reducing public spending but current circumstances provide an exceptional opportunity for our insistently populist rulers to grab the nettle with a little encouragement from HM Treasury.
    Working in the public sector is relatively too attractive in NI. There is no shortage of applicants for public sector posts so there is every justification for making pay and conditions less attractive. Why pay GPs £100,000 when you know you could get enough them at half the price and they’d probably have a stronger vocation. The same applies to teachers and the higher echelons of the civil serrvice.

  • The Raven

    “There is no shortage of applicants for public sector posts so there is every justification for making pay and conditions less attractive.”

    Glencoppagagh, where I work, a local hotel just advertised for a receptionist – and received 240 applications. Another company was looking for a driver – 215 applications. There’s no shortage of applicants for ANY post right now.

    Reluctantly, I do agree on the GP issue – though I’d like to see the “consultant” brigade taken to task. I wonder – and this may be in the realms of fantasy – if the ENTIRE NHS system said, “you’ll do a 40 hour week like everyone else, and if we’re generous, you can have every other weekend off…oh and by the way, no fuckin’ shirking off and leaving shit for the junior doctors”….

    …what might happen…?