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Wednesday 28 September 2011

TPA – Desperation In Transit

Yesterday brought another pretentiously titled “Research Note” from the assembled non-job holders at the so-called Taxpayers’ Alliance (TPA), this time on surplus staff at Transport for London (TfL). As is usual for the TPA, this consists of the usual Freedom of Information (FoI) fishing expedition, with the objective of proving that waste is occurring, while actually proving nothing at all.

As the TPA has framed its analysis using only its FoI responses, they do not say whether the “surplus staff” were usefully employed: any suggestion of waste is therefore baseless. Without going into the case-by-case detail, no conclusion can be reached, other than that a small number of TfL staff were looking for another role in the organisation between 2004 and 2011.

How small a number is that? Well, the TPA has identified 138 employees that have passed through TfL’s redeployment unit over a seven year period. At any one time, an average of less than 20 would be so classified. Given that the total TfL headcount in 2004 was 18,800, and in 2008 was 27,000 – since reduced to around 25,000 – this number is less than one tenth of one per cent.

And the TPA does not, in even one case, make any attempt to find out what work was being done by those allocated to the redeployment unit. In the case of Royal Mail, the TPA’s previous redeployment target, those between roles were employed on project work, and once more, no waste was proven. So the salary numbers being pitched are next to meaningless.

But the proportion of TfL employees in the redeployment unit expressed as a percentage of the total will be familiar to anyone at the TPA: “less than one tenth of one per cent” also applies to the proportion of UK taxpayers that the TPA – which erroneously claims to represent all of them – actually speaks for. And the press coverage extended only to a mention in the Evening Standard.

For their annual investment of well over a million notes, the TPA’s backers might wonder what they’re getting in return – because this lame effort by a group of non-job holders trying to call out gainfully employed people really is not good enough.

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