Love or hate the Daily Mail – there are some stories that really let you know what is happening out there – as if we didn’t know!!!
If politicians had their way, we’d never know about the greed of these public sector truffle hounds, says RICHARD LITTLEJOHN
Golden hellos, golden goodbyes, gold-plated pensions, first-class foreign travel, trebles all round. When it comes to lining their own pockets, these so-called public ‘servants’ have nothing to learn from the rapacious, bonus-hungry financial world.
Top-earner last year was Professor Tricia Hart, outgoing chief executive of the South Tees Hospitals NHS Trust, on a pay and perks package of £1.26 million a year. She’s due to retire in January with a £2.5 million pension pot, including a tax-free lump sum of £335,000.
So Tricia must be a bit special to deserve that kind of deal? Her Trust is surely a shining beacon of efficiency and excellence, an example to the rest of the NHS. That’s not what the Care Quality Commission, which monitors NHS performance, concluded.
In 2013/14, she presided over a financial deficit that rose from £2.9 million to £4.4 million. South Tees also breached its licence for failing to meet targets for infection control, including an alarming number of cases of the potentially lethal superbug C.diff and an increase in mortality figures.
Despite this, Trish enjoyed a promotion, a substantial salary increase and will leave with an index-linked pension based on her recently inflated final salary.
This was just the largest deal uncovered by our investigations team. Others include a Scottish policeman handed an annual package worth £737,500 and an Oxford academic on £690,000.
As for the Porsche, that was one of the perks awarded to Bryn Parry-Jones, the chief executive of Pembrokeshire County Council, in Wales.
The £90,000 Panamera model was leased, at a cost to taxpayers of £2,368 a month, at a time when Parry-Jones was slashing spending by £20 million a year, closing public toilets, charging for social services and putting up parking fees.
Last year, he was forced to resign in disgrace after a row about ‘unlawful’ payments he received, but still walked away with a pay-off of £277,000. Lovely, tidy, smashing, as they say in Wales.
Basically, Parry-Jones’s job was what we used to call town clerk. And how many old-school town clerks ever got to swan around in a top-of-the-range German sports car, paid for out of public funds?
In the normal course of events, a copper raking in over £700,000 would attract the attention of the anti-corruption squad. But the deal given to Steve Allen, one of four Deputy Chief Constables at Police Scotland, was legal and above board.
No wonder he can afford to live in a half-million pound apartment in Glasgow. He’s the highest paid Plod in Britain.
Is he really worth all that money? Try telling that to a young bobby on the beat, or a victim of crime who has recently seen his local police station closed down to save money.
As we reveal today, Police Scotland, which also has seven assistant chief constables, pays senior officers the highest salary packages in Britain, yet has axed 1,300 staff because of budget cuts.
Thousands of managers now earn six-figure salaries for fairly mundane, bureaucratic jobs. More than 500 town hall staff are paid more than the Prime Minister’s £150,000 a year.
And despite their constant championing of our ‘world class’ National Health Service, thousands of local government employees and senior police officers are entitled to private health insurance — or £250 a time compensation if they have to suffer the inconvenience of using the NHS, like the plebs they are supposed to serve.
All this at a time when the public finances are under pressure, the country is £1.4 trillion in debt, and we keep being told there is not enough money to run basic public services.
This process has been going on now for over 25 years as a result of the massive increase in bureaucrats throughout the NHS and local government — what Gordon Brown called ‘investment’.
For years I poked fun at the ludicrous jobs created by Labour and advertised exclusively in the Guardian, as Brown built his client state. We’ve all giggled at lesbian bereavement counsellors and condom distribution outreach co-ordinators.
At the height of the Aids panic, one North London health authority was paying people to hang packets of contraceptives and lubricant in the trees on Hampstead Heath, for the benefit of homosexuals having casual, alfresco sex.
But that madness almost pales into insignificance alongside the tsunami of taxpayers’ money which has been siphoned off to keep senior staff in the style to which they have now become accustomed.
The deal always used to be that public servants wouldn’t receive the highest wages, but they’d be guaranteed job security and decent pensions. Brown ripped up that social compact when he embarked on a massive expansion of the public sector, where salaries soon overtook those in private companies.
Once these gilded mandarins started giving themselves fancy titles and equating their value with employees in the wealth-creating sector, the sky became the limit. Suddenly, men and women on modest incomes began awarding themselves staggering salaries and pension pots out of all proportion to their actual worth.
There’s an entire class of civil servants who seem to glide seamlessly from job to job, organisation to organisation, from one highly paid sinecure to another.
Take Mark Davies, Interim Director of Clinical and Public Assurance at the Health and Social Care Information Centre, whatever that is, on a package of £315,986.
What did he contribute to the well-being of the nation? Not much, it seems, because he was made redundant with a pay-off of £132,708. Now he’s turned up chairing something called the UK Health Informatics (sic) Forum and working for a company that provides advice to the NHS and lists the Department of Health as a ‘sponsor’.
No one seems to leave any of these jobs without a parachute bag full of cash. Most appear to have so-called ‘exit payments’, amounting to hundreds of thousands of pounds, built into their contracts.
And many of these departing public sector managers are paid huge sums to buy their silence, via gagging orders designed to prevent the public finding out what goes on in organisations we pay for.
The real scandal here is that all this has been going on under the radar. Unlike those worthless Mickey Mouse appointments which used to be offered in the Guardian ‘society’ section, none of these lucrative jobs ever seem to be advertised.
Even when they are, the salaries and perks are not made explicit, simply couched in deliberately vague terms.
It has taken 6,000 separate Freedom of Information requests from this newspaper and the TaxPayers’ Alliance to discover the truth.
Once again it is journalists who have exposed a national scandal, just as they did over MPs’ expenses. The authorities have strained every sinew to obstruct, obfuscate and prevent this vital information being made public.
If politicians had their way, we would never have found out. As a result of the deranged post-Leveson witch-hunt against our Free Press, there are even attempts to scrap the Freedom of Information Act, and whistleblowers are being criminalised.
Without the efforts of our investigators, most people would not be aware of the existence of this vast phalanx of over-paid, seemingly unaccountable public sector truffle hounds with their snouts deep in the trough of taxpayers’ money, getting fat at the public expense.
Remember that the next time you read about the efforts of a self-appointed ‘liberal elite’ to shackle the Press and especially when you hear self-enriching ‘public servants’ whining about ‘savage’ spending cuts.