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Thursday 5 January 2012

TPA – Promoting Ignorance Again

The new year has started in characteristic style over at the comfortable premises of the so-called Taxpayers’ Alliance (TPA), the Astroturf lobby group dedicated to the demonisation of Government – any Government – along with public service and public works. Nowhere is the continuity more evident than in non-job holder Andrew Allison’s picking over public sector job adverts.

More from the Comfortable of Tufton Street

Allison, as is usual for the TPA, does not intend to do anything as rash as bother engaging with the organisations he demonises, but instead pretends that job titles reveal whether a job is relevant or not. The idea that he might ask for a job description before putting the boot in does not enter. Neither does an understanding of how contract and freelance workers operate (as I’ve shown before).

He picks – as he did in the link – on an interim management job, which means it is only temporary in nature. The maximum daily rate shown of £400 translates into an equivalent salary of £50k per annum, as contract workers have to pay both employers’ and employees’ National Insurance, get no sick or holiday pay, have to make their own pension provision, and get no travel or subsistence allowances.

And if Allison has misgivings over the job title, why has he not taken this up with the authority concerned? He won’t be, because the TPA does not engage with its targets. Nor does it bother to employ the advanced research technique known as “five minutes’ Googling”: Allison talks of one job, telling thattaxpayers ... pour in ... £1.5 million”, when the project is funded by the British Heart Foundation.

It gets no better when Allison has a lame kick at Oxford City Council for having the temerity to want to be more energy efficient and reduce their “carbon footprint”: not for the TPA any kind of cost/benefit analysis showing the savings in energy use and promotion of greener lifestyles set against the cost of employing a middle manager to oversee the range of initiatives. Perish the thought!

And finally, Allison fails to read a job advert for Cherwell District Council: had he bothered to engage brain before putting the boot in, he would have seen that the management post talks of “shared services” and “both councils”. This indicates that another authority is involved, and that the position is overseeing a reorganisation which is taking place in order to reduce costs.

Reduced costs, leading to less pressure on Council Tax, is something the TPA tells everyone it favours. So why, at the same time, does it knock those authorities that are working to do just that? Perhaps Andrew Allison is trying to kick his smoking habit and it’s taking his eye off the ball. Or is this what the TPA classes as an acceptable standard of “research”?

Because if the latter is true, it’s not good enough.

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