Welcome to my day: 23 January 2023 – clinging desperately to the wreckage…

I’ve been away, which has come as something of a relief, it must be said. Admittedly, not much has changed since I went away – the people running our country still appear to have a restricted grasp of ethics and morality, the Opposition are still desperately attempting to avoid taking any firm position on very much, the lack of ideas for dealing with the huge challenges our country faces is still troubling.

And I’m weary. Weary of trying to serve a nation where those in charge barely pay lip service to the idea that we have value, weary of attempting to make good the lack of resources, weary of being treated as a unit of production rather than as a human being, weary of being used as an ineffectual tool to persuade the private sector not to behave in accordance with the free market.

My organisation isn’t on strike. Yet. I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if that didn’t change. After all, I couldn’t honestly encourage young people to join it – it takes increasing altruism to work in the public sector, especially if you’d like to do radical things like raise a family, or own a home. Retention and recruitment are increasingly become a game of chasing your own tail, with newcomers discovering how poor their prospects are all too quickly.

There is no quick fix. Even if by some miracle the Government decided to give public sector workers real terms pay increases – and they won’t – key sectors require long-term action to find and train those needed to fill vacancies left by those due to retire, which involves investment in higher and further education. In the meantime, there needs to be more support for those currently attempting to fill the gaps that exist across the sector, in social care, in health, in education and in the Civil Service and local government, just to mention some of the most glaring ones.

As liberals, we can’t simply bemoan the weakness of the public sector. We need to understand that, if you want to improve the health of your society, someone needs to deliver those ideas, preferably someone who cares about the outcomes. For every new reform you introduce, you need people to deliver that reform, to ensure that standards are adhered to. And you need to value them, as experience and knowledge are accumulated over time and are expensive to replace.

And, if you properly resource a service, you can improve efficiency and lower costs over time, as you don’t have the expense of dealing with crises. For example, if you have the full complement of, say, nurses, you don’t sustain the higher costs of agency staff to fill the gaps.

So, support your local public sector workers. Most of them want nothing more than to be able to do their jobs and have a life just like the rest of you. And, if you think you’re going to win an election, listen to their voices – they might just have the key to delivering your election promises…

* Mark Valladares is the Monday Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice.

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2 Comments

  • Steve Trevethan 23rd Jan '23 - 8:41am

    Thank you for a really relevant comment!
    Where is our leadership?

  • Peter Hirst 28th Jan '23 - 3:09pm

    To afford a decent public service sector we need more income. That is got from exporting goods and services. Brexit has dealt a hammer blow to our economy. So beside rejoining the eu we need to invest in businesses that are sustainble in green and business senses and regain our ability to export our services accross the world.

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