Monday, 7 July 2008

Would the "Welsh Way" be the right way?

Devolution brought about the ability to do things the "Welsh Way"; making the Assembly's strategy for public services in Wales, (formulated through 'Making the Connections' and refined by the 'Beecham Report'), markedly different to the approach adopted by the Westminster Government.

However, on the question of civil service reform, the situation is more complex. In theory Assembly staff matters are devolved to the First Minister and Permanent Secretary. In reality, the all pervading influence of Whitehall, through the Cabinet Office and Treasury, casts a dark shadow over every decision made in Cardiff Bay.

To illustrate this point: in 2004 Gordon Brown made his pre-election announcement to axe 104,000 Civil service jobs. 20,000 of these were to be made in the devolved administrations, but neither Rhodri Morgan (First Minister) nor Sue Essex (Minister for Finance, Local Government & Public Services) were consulted. In other words, devolution seems to be lost on the mandarins and politicians in Whitehall when it comes to staffing matters.

Herein lies the danger.

Put bluntly; the non-devolved Civil Service is in crisis through a combination of job cuts, privatisation and an over reliance on obscenely expensive management consultants. Staff morale has never been lower.

The question to be asked is; do the Assembly's Senior Civil Service have the backbone to stand up to their London bosses in rejecting policies such as outsourcing and performance related pay?

They must insist on doing things the 'Welsh Way'. Or is Cathays Park just an outpost of Whitehall?

[Source: PCS]

2 comments:

Anonymous 7 July 2008 at 21:59  

don't be misled, wales has huge numbers of overpid consultants too, be interesting to get an foi on how many and the cost.
If they provide a specialist skill then fine, but a lot don't. They get huge sums for basic work...why, programme money, often european money is a lot easier to spend than the political fall out of recruiting additional temporary staff. Catch 22, but disgusts me.

Anonymous 7 July 2008 at 22:56  

Staffing matters is shifted to suit the overall outcome depending on who has to give the bad news and where the blame needs to be placed.

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