Welcome to my day: 8 August 2022 – adding social value…

Is Rishi Sunak really suggesting that it’s acceptable to be poorly paid if you’re adding social value? That does appear to be the case if you take his proposal to

take a tougher approach to university degrees that saddle students with debt, without improving their earning potential

So, presumably, a degree in nursing, which the market suggests is underpaid, would be acceptable to Mr Sunak.

The problem is that, whilst in the private sector, the market requires businesses to compete with each other for staff, the public sector is distorted by government decisions to “set an example”. Thus, increasingly, there are areas of state activity where the rate for the job isn’t high enough to attract and retain the sort of people you want running your services.

And, with Liz Truss either lying about her intentions for public sector pay or being too lazy to read past the headlines of her proposals, it’s clear that there’ll be no effective solutions for public sector employment coming from the Conservative Party anytime soon.

It was noticeable that Ms Truss chose to adopt recommendations from the Taxpayer’s Alliance, a group whose funding is opaque (at best) and whose report was based on ten year old data adjusted using assumptions which, when tested, proved to be politically suicidal. And oddly, the 2012 Osborne commissioned report on regional pay found that, in some parts of the country, a regional pay policy would require pay increases rather than creating savings. It’s fair to say that that idea never saw the light of day…

But the generosity with other people’s money does go on. First we had tax cuts, now we’re talking about helping those struggling to make ends meet. At least thoughts have turned towards the impacts of inflation which, in the British economy, seems to be higher for the poor than for the better-off. These are the very people for whom tax cuts offer least yet getting funds to them requires a more targeted approach. It does sound like a case for a basic income scheme.

Turning to the question of funding for country towns as opposed to inner cities, one can become a bit cynical, even more so bearing in mind Mr Sunak’s Tunbridge Wells comments. In truth, funding is always directed towards areas of political support but the implications become much sharper when there is so little central government funding for local government that doesn’t come with strings. The only solution is transparency in deciding how pots of money are distributed, with clear rules made public, for the intention of addressing need.

And, whilst I’m on the subject, enabling Town and Parish Councils to apply for project funding more easily would be welcomed by my colleagues in the sector.

But I ought to get on, so enjoy the day and feel free to share your thoughts “below the line”.

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

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2 Comments

  • Christine Jardine “People are worried sick about soaring bills and a recession around the corner.””We have a zombie government and a prime minister missing in action. The country deserves better during this time of national crisis.”

    Meanwhile, the supporters of Truss and Sunak spend their time explaining what their candidate said, be it ‘no handouts’ or ‘taking money from deprived areas’, is not really what they meant..

    Zombies indeed..

  • > In truth, funding is always directed towards areas of political support
    Yes we had that system before joining the EU, by channelling the monies via the EU that problem plus the on-off nature of politically motivated funding which tends to get announce multiple times before a single penny is actually committed and spent, was largely resolved, along with the distribution of monies between inner cities and rural areas.

    It does seem, whilst history doesn’t actually repeat, we are heading for a 2020’s version of the 1970’s…

    >So, presumably, a degree in nursing, which the market suggests is underpaid, would be acceptable to Mr Sunak.
    Alternatively, it is unacceptable to charge students for such degrees and hold them liable for repayments where the student takes up a job in the UK.

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