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Tuesday 22 February 2011

TPA – Non-Job Talks Non-Jobs

Another week brings another exercise in knocking copy by the so-called Taxpayers’ Alliance (TPA), this time demonstrating another classic false assumption, something that lazy hacks reprint without questioning.

The article, “The War On Non-Jobs And Waste”, authored by non-job holder Andrew Allison (job title, job description and salary level not disclosed), tells that the Government is going to get tough on “non-jobs”. Sadly, he is unable to give a cite for that assertion, but this kind of detail never detains the TPA for long.

We are assured that there are 750,000 of these “non-jobs” in Local Government. It sounds like A Very Big Number. The TPA also assures us that these “non-jobs” are just waste, and that they are not “front line jobs”. So how do they reach their conclusion?

Simples. The TPA have sent out lots of Freedom of Information (FoI) requests to local authorities all over the UK – a tried and tested way of wasting public money – asking after certain job descriptions (“report” HERE [.pdf]). The job titles that cause the TPA the most significant distress are Political Advisors, European Officers, Diversity Officers and Climate Change Officers.

Then, the amounts paid to the holders of these positions are totalled up, and the grand total is held to be waste. But there is a leap of logic in play here: a job title is not always indicative of what the holder actually does. What the job holder does is more likely to be revealed by their job description, or most likely by some idea of everyday tasks and duties performed.

Sad to say, the TPA and its own ranks of non-job holders make no effort in that direction, and that is because they already have their conclusion written. Anything that might cause the analysis to come out the other way does not enter.

And the TPA might come across as more credible if they were as transparent as the targets of their incessant knocking copy. When are we going to see those accounts, together with a full list of donors, and salary and retainer payments?

Together with job descriptions, of course.


Lazer Guided Melody said...

FoI legislation... transparency, accountability - has to be a good thing, no?

Except that the great majority of FoI requests are from agenda-fuelled individuals, newspapaers and organizations - mostly on the right of the political spectrum - who pepper public sector organizations with the same loaded questions.

When collated, responses are screened to ensure they segue with the organizations agenda, then published to prove that he public sector is a Marxist scam perpetuated by self-serving hypocrites who laugh at you, the taxpayer (okay, I'm exaggerating, but not by much - this "research" is published with no adherence to methodology or standardization; as quantitative analysis it's meaningless...except you don't read that fact in the Daily Express).

(My evidence? I'm a Local Govt data monkey, who spends a significant amount of my working week fulfilling spurious FoI requests that I know will be used for smear-ridden press releases by the likes of the TPA. I've even got a shiny database the details who asks for. Perhaps I should thank them for my "non-job?")

Tim Fenton said...

@1, it's comments like yours that make blogging truly worthwhile. Many thanks for stopping by and shedding some light on the issue - we're not likely to get anything like that from the TPA.