Tag Archives: government services

Resisting the UK’s slide into a ‘middleman’ economy

My sister-in-law is severely autistic, and as such is entitled to receive support in the form of a carer who takes her out for various activities. Over the years she has had a number of care visitors of highly variable quality, provided by a badly-managed agency under contract to the County Council. Fortunately her current care visitor is a dedicated and caring person who has improved her quality of life immeasurably. She is visibly happier, calmer and getting much more enjoyment from life, and of course want this to continue. The carer herself earns minimum wage but the Council pays the agency over twice this for her time. We are now looking at employing this carer directly, which involves her becoming self-employed and being paid directly by the Council. If we do this the Council will pay her £14 an hour, which looks like a pay rise until you remember that she will be self-employed and so will not have any of the benefits or security of full employment such as holiday pay.  In fact she will be little better off financially and the main benefit is to remove the bad agency from the arrangement and ensure continuity of care with this particular valued carer.

What strikes me about this situation is that the council is willing and able to pay more then £14 per hour for her time, but not to benefit the carer herself – only to benefit a company who will take a large slice of the funding. Why?

My niece is a very bright young woman who graduated a couple of years ago with a first-class degree. She currently works for HMRC. Except she doesn’t – she works for a company who take on graduates, provide training and then sell their time to others. In this case they sell my niece’s time to a major international consulting firm who in turn are contracted by HMRC.  I don’t have the numbers but I suspect HMRC (i.e. the taxpayer) are paying 3-4 times what my niece earns for her time. Why?

The UK’s energy regulator, OFGEM, has over 1000 permanent employees and an annual budget of over £100m. It spends nearly £20m a year with consultants, and recently paid £420k to an outside consultancy to advise on the price cap changes. Why does a well-resourced quasi-Government body need to spend such large amounts of money with consultants just to perform one of its core responsibilities? Incidently, the same consultants contracted by OFGEM also work for the Big 6 energy suppliers – couldn’t they at least find one with some independence?

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