Monday, 27 October 2008

Are the Senior Civil Service in Wales earning their salaries?

This post has been in my inbox for some time. Other events have taken over and we seem to forget - far too quickly - how much our public servants earn in relation to the majority of the population. Since Amanwy has now pointed out the latest in the Assembly Government hierarchy, which is the brain-child of new Permanent Secretary Dame Gillian Morgan, I've decided to finish this post.

The Welsh Assembly Government have announced a major re-organisation at Senior level of the civil service in Cathays Park. A new layer of senior civil servants will be created in an effort to join-up government. A policy-performance-bridge between the existing heads and the Permanent Secretary. They are to be called Director General posts, with each earning a salary of £130,000 (I expect there to be a tagline of 'more available, depending on experience' added in somewhere). Expected themed responsibility will cover: Sustainable Futures; Public Services and Local Government Delivery; People, Places and Corporate Services; and Finance. Under each Director General will be the corresponding existing departments, divisions, and branches.

In an ideal world, the Assembly Government will look to outside the Assembly in order to fill these new roles, and not look to reward those that are already stagnating in their current roles within the Cathays Park-based civil service. I can only imagine how many of the existing heads will be rubbing their hands with glee at the prospect of promotion. This may prove to be a consolation prize for some, and only time will tell how many of them will be positioning themselves for these new roles. There are a few that had their noses put out of joint when Dame Gillian Morgan - an outsider - was put in charge back in May.

Not taking into account that dreaded word 'bonuses', the 30 highest-paid civil servants in the Welsh Assembly Government together earn at least £3.3m, the Western Mail revealed in August of this year. This new announcement is - in no doubt - partly a way to reinvigorate our perception of the civil service by bringing in 'a welcome relief' at the same time as a fresh approach, far removed from the old management style of Sir Jon Shortridge. There's no more mileage in the romantic mantra of "Don't go changing to try and please me, I love you just the way you are." Dame Gillian Morgan wants to be seen as a manager promoting something radical within the civil service - concentrating on delivery with a different approach to her predecessor, and putting to bed the theory and rumour that she's going to concentrate too much on health in Wales, given her background.

Whatever the reason, laden with good intention, some will see this as an extra layer of bureaucracy and pure empire building of old-school proportions; or even a career-laden structure to progression for senior managers within Cathays Park. I'm a healthy cynic and also believe that Dame Gillian thinks that there's too many at the top table. Weekly/monthly meetings are taken up by too many items on the agenda, and wants to keep the talking to the few. Departments are difficult to downsize, so are kept the same. The Director General 'bridges' should be able to carry forward the right messages to the top-dog in each, and via these new bridges, the message should be carried forward without fuss to the department heads below. Sadly, as noses will be put out of joint in the process, people will largely forget that those that lead the divisions will remain the same, subject to any knock-on promotion.

Being seen to look outside the Assembly and advertise externally for new talent may be seen as forward thinking, however, the wind is taken out of its sails when you find out this is not new thinking, but common public sector practice.

The salary may very well reflect the roles, but more emphasis needs to be placed on measuring whether a good job has been done in each senior civil service role. At the moment this is only carried out internally, and sometimes by the media taking pot shots - occasionally in the dark.

The obligatory public relations guff that follows the installment of these new top-dogs will soon disappear, and when the air clears, all we're left with is a layer of 'strategic geniuses' that, in time, turn out to be another layer in the silo that make little difference to policy ideas and performance when those that command the middle ranking troops remain the same.

The data shows top civil servants continue to earn significantly more than the Assembly Government Ministers responsible for policy.

The First Minister receives £78,355 on top of a basic AM’s salary of £50,692. Cabinet members are paid a top-up of £40,645.

Corin Taylor of the Taxpayers’ Alliance said: “If you’re spending a great deal of taxpayers’ money you should be accountable for what you do and how you are remunerated. If people are doing a good job and their details are out in the open we won’t begrudge them.”

Ten of the 30 civil servants with the largest salaries work in health divisions:

At the top of the list

1. Dame Gillian Morgan, the Permanent Secretary (between £160,000 and £165,000)

2. Ann Lloyd, Chief Executive of NHS Wales (between £160,000 and £165,000)

3. Dr Tony Jewell, Chief Medical Officer (between £155,000 and £160,000)

4. Gareth Hall, Director of the Department for the Economy and Transport - former WDA (between £135,000 and £140,000)

5. Dr Gwyn Thomas, who, as director of Informing Healthcare, is charged with encouraging better use of information in the NHS.

6. Jeff Buggle (£130,000- £135,000) and Bob Hudson (£120,000-£125,000) – both directors in the department for health and social services.

8. Dr Christine Daws Finance Director (between £115,000 and £120,000)

9. Simon Dean, Director of Service Delivery and Performance Management, Health and Social Services Department. (between £115,000 and £120,000)

10. Derek Griffin, Chief Executive of CAFCASS Cymru, the body which looks after the interests of children involved in family law proceedings (between £115,000 and £120,000)

11. Bernard Galton, HR Director (between £110,000 and £115,000)

12. Martin Sykes, Chief Executive of Value Wales (between £110,000 and £115,000)
13. Richard Davies, Director of the Department for Public Services and Performance, Mike Hopkins, head of the lifelong learning and providers division, and Dr Jane Wilkinson, deputy chief medical officer, are all paid between £105,000 and £110,000.

Of the next 15 top-paid officials, six are on between £100,000 and £105,000, and the remaining nine, between £95,000 and £100,000.


Anonymous 27 October 2008 at 07:27  

Nice to see the Titanic has so many well paid officers as we head for the rocks. How many of these stars would earn even the national minimum wage in the private sector?

Anonymous 27 October 2008 at 08:20  

Imagine the look on the faces of those facing redundancy at the moment. Shame on WAG.

backroom 27 October 2008 at 08:29  

Sounds like Dame Morgan is trying to justify her appointment to the role by creating these posts. If it doesn't work for her, there'll be no come back. No harm, no foul.

Lisa 27 October 2008 at 08:30  

More senior posts earning the big bucks. Another layer of bureaucracy. Another senior manager to report to.

Looks like more of the same in the civil service.

Ian 27 October 2008 at 08:37  

Nothing more than a PR gimmick for their political masters, the Labour-Plaid Coalition, Plaid-Labour Coalition/Labour-led coalition/Plaid-leading behind coalition.

Call them what the hell you like.

Richard Evans 27 October 2008 at 08:47  

We are told that this is going to be cost neutral.

Does this mean that those that are already working there will fit into these roles? Perhaps those due to retirement and taking a huge incremented salary while in post will be asked to retire early to compensate for the difference in taking on new senior staff i.e. a senior civil servant for years will be on the highest pay level, a newly promoted one will be at the bottom of the scale. Therefore a few lifers will be retiring in order to make way for the chosen to be promoted internally to the next grade.

Sounds like a number of people will be getting promotion for Christmas.

James Ivor 27 October 2008 at 08:52  

As Amanwy says, "Today's announcement is a welcome step towards better co-ordination, but it is no panacea."

Anonymous 27 October 2008 at 08:55  

Stop being so negative Miss Wagstaff.

It all sounds like a good idea to me and all this negativity doesn't help the civil service assist the Labour/Plaid coalition in its aims to secure a better life for those living in Wales.

Anonymous 27 October 2008 at 10:28  

I have no problem in paying good people who produce the goods their market value.Wales can only benefit.
What does concern me is after extensive advertising for example for one of the posts you named , for a world class candidate , that we ended up with the person who was in the interim post and judged as not up to being appointed on a permanent basis.
Now either the HR process was inefficent, or it was a done job anyway.
I think that since the merger , the fact that there have been no redundancies, and that there are still people from that merger not in jobs but being paid is amazing.
Putting another layer of strategic management is not the answer , the whole set up needs a review and an overhaul. If it does turn out that this is another lot of promotions from within, then we need to ask why these people werent doing their own jobs in the first place, if they were, we wouldnt need this additional layer.

PA to the bureaucrats 27 October 2008 at 12:05  

"Are the Senior Civil Service in Wales earning their salaries?"

Not from where I'm standing in CP2.

Anonymous 27 October 2008 at 14:16  

We're already putting names to jobs. We may as well book a conference room in CP1 and hold a meeting to divvy up the roles.

The Riddler 27 October 2008 at 14:36  

let them fight for there money
or let us fight them for there money
give us strength to overthrow them

Anonymous 27 October 2008 at 17:40  

Have you noticed that new appointees are either doctors or professors? This makes you question their ability to step away from the world of academia for a civil service job.

Anonymous 27 October 2008 at 17:42  

Convenient promtion has been like a disease in the Assembly since inception.

The Office of the First Minister was turned into the Department of the First Minister a while ago and its head promoted. Wait for it... doing the same job, same responsibilities, same role.

Stonemason 28 October 2008 at 06:17  

Is it "Alice in Wonderland" or "Through the Looking Glass", it could be a novel, except we know about the elderly lady considering the winter ahead.

Anonymous 28 October 2008 at 08:07  

Thanks heavens WAG have started advertising senior positions. Usually they simply regrade the job post and magically the job owner gets promoted.

H 28 October 2008 at 08:22  

I seem to remember Sir Jon making what seemed like radical changes in his tenure of the top job. Sadly, these so-called changes never seem to work in the Assembly. Plenty of good intention to start off with that doesn't seem to make that much impact and before we know it, the tenure of the top job has ended.

Then it all starts again.

Anonymous 28 October 2008 at 08:27  

If we have learnt anything in the last six months it's that those in highly paid jobs do not necessarily know what they are doing. A high salary may attract certain people but it sure doesn't attract ability.

Anonymous 28 October 2008 at 12:05  

Have you taken a look at the expenses of some? It looks like a few are taking advantage, particularly the ones that don't live in Wales.

Anonymous 28 October 2008 at 12:11  

Fair play Waggers you're doing your best to annoy the blighters.

Anonymous 28 October 2008 at 13:03  

Great comment from the marvel that is Noah_sembly on Betsan's blog:-

I (and possibly others) are of the opinion that the "WELSH CIVIL SERVICE" is nowt but a puffed up job creation set-up. As is normal with this type of outfit, they have the ability to demand more and more money from dim, nervous politcians. I notice that while manufacturing companies in Wales are closing all about us.... Bosch....L' many more.

The money-wasting WELSH CIVIL SERVICE seems able to gobble up our cash effortlessly, and with little control.

How come we NEVER see news items saying WELSH CIVIL SERVICE makes 400 redundant?

eric 28 October 2008 at 22:05  

i am a civil servant and will reserve judgement on these changes, the way i read them, is cost neutral and should aid efficiency, time will tell. The current management board was seemingly a waste of time, decisions weren't made.
The vitriol and criticism on here baffles me though, the emerging welsh civil service is a superb body on the whole for wales, operating in a very harsh world with limited resources expecting to prdouduce a great deal.
One wonders whether we should pay more and attract the cream of the private sector, the lawyers and bankers of the city / wal street, but then the current circumstances aren't exactly covering the private sector employees with much glory is it?

Anonymous 28 October 2008 at 23:23  

"the emerging welsh civil service is a superb body on the whole for wales, operating in a very harsh world with limited resources expecting to prdouduce a great deal."

Eric, you make it all sound dream like. Even with its healthy resources (compared to England) in some devolved areas, what's been delivered isn't working. As a GP living on the border I can assure you that my patients get a better quality of life if I refer them to an English hospital than a Welsh one.

Anonymous 28 October 2008 at 23:26  

Wales has been served by poor ministers in areas such as health and backed up by bad advice from its civil servants.

eric 30 October 2008 at 22:46  

anon 23:23
thats a different point entirely, whats being delivered is what we are asked to deliver or able to deliver. If the policy is wrong and doesn't deliver, that cannot neccessarily be laid at a civil sevants door. The civil service is not the political entity. Civil servants and others offer advise and are often over ruled. we are in place to serve the elected Government.
An interesting current exapmle is Northern Ireland and the Enviornment Minister. Its worth following him and his policies. He doesn't agree that Climate Chnage is man made and is opting out of all UK related policies etc. Advice wise he is almost certainly being advised against the lines he takes but his civil servants despite their advice will carry on with his wishes regardless.
People can bemoan the welsh civil service and I believe underperformance isn't dealt with well, but what is deliverd is political. Failure in policy cannot be blamed directly on civil servants.

Gill 30 October 2008 at 23:35  

Hello Eric. As you've mentioned that underperformance isn't dealt with well in the Welsh civil service, would you care to elaborate further?

It would be beneficial to the debate in order to get a better understanding of how performance is managed within the Assembly.


Anonymous 30 October 2008 at 23:36  

Surely civil servants are meant to advise ministers when something has no chance of working.

eric 1 November 2008 at 00:35  

gill, not the new perm sec gill? gulp. hmmmmm

yes civil servants will advise ministers on areas that likely won't work, and theoretically can say no etc. But yet to see or hear of that hapening so policies are implemented on a political manifesto basis rather than a clear rational policy basis. Thats not to say its wrong, but cut the civil service a little slack. If a olicy is wrong, its political. If a good policy is poorly implemented then maybe the civil servants are to blame.

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