Last Wednesday, non-job holder Andrew Allison of the so-called Taxpayers’ Alliance (TPA) must have thought he’d found the ultimate example of local Government largesse: a management post paying between £500 and £600 a day. This, he concluded, was potentially more than Young Dave is paid. It was a slam-dunk example of “Burning Our Money”.
Except that a brief scan of the job advert, which Allison has helpfully appended to his article, shows otherwise. While he eagerly talks of a “salary”, the ad clearly says that the position – for an “interim head of Parking services” at an unnamed London borough – is a Contract one. Moreover, the use of the word “interim” should be a very obvious clue, as should the “up to 12 months” line.
This suggests that Allison does not understand the way in which contract (or freelance) workers operate. Having done much in this area myself – and still in possession of a limited company as a result – the nature of this supposed “non-job” was clear.
What has been advertised is different to a salaried fixed term post: the 500-600 notes a day covers all the costs of the role, and the person hired does not appear on the authority's payroll. The freelance must pay both employee’s and employer’s National Insurance out of that amount, as well as income tax. Any travel or subsistence costs, pension provision, accountant’s fees, and professional indemnity insurance premia are also paid by the contract worker.
Moreover, there is no sick pay or paid leave, no pay over bank holiday periods or during other closures of the service, and typically, notice of as little as one week can be given by the employer (hence “up to” in the description). “Interim” management is therefore an insecure calling, and practitioners have to be able to get to grips with their task rapidly, as well as having a track record, hence the rewards.
I generally reckon that a contract paying £10 an hour roughly equates to a full time salaried post at 10k a year. The contract worker can extract more cash during the period of the contract, but the obvious downside is that items like pension provision suffer. Using that contract/permanent equivalence, the job advertised comes out at just under 70k a year.
I’m sure that the TPA will still be unhappy at the latter rate of pay, but then, their purpose is the demonisation of Government, together with public service and public works, so that would surprise no-one. The real eye-opener is that their array of non-job holders doesn’t understand the freelance job market.And then, to compound the error, they give every appearance of presenting their ignorance as a claim to merit.