VitalSpark: Coalition Blog

Posted: 04 June 2010, in Blog

It has been an interesting week for the well paid in the public sector. We should anticipate public opprobrium being laid on the well paid in the Social Enterprise, Charity, Local Government, Education, NDPB, Quango, Cultural, Executive Agency, “Arms Length Business” and Health, Transport and Public Utility sectors too*. This could be an epiphany for our society or it could open Pandora’s box.

The Torygraph leads the charge with the revelation that the CEO of Anchor HA earned £391,000 last year and the CEO of Places for People earned £297,000. I wonder what their tenants and low paid colleagues think.

Meanwhile the government in England intends to identify all public sector officials who earn more than £58k. I’m interested in seeing how this plays out in Scotland. I can’t see Eck, Iain, the unions and the Scottish professional class readily following Cameron’s lead – can you? Maybe Tavish and Annabel will get a call from London.

Many years ago, I attended a course where executive pay in the private and public sectors was defended as being market led. Talent was described as highly mobile and remuneration was now a “global” issue. Nothing was said about any other form of reward or the difficulties in personal terms of uprooting families and partners etc.

The lecturer had a face like a bulldog sooking a wasp when I suggested that the market was highly imperfect and required regulation. On a roll and a rant, I declared that the absence of personal financial risk for non – entrepreneurs meant that an invidious comparison was being made when it was stated that public sector professionals could earn more in the private sector. Toddle off then if you are motivated by greed I thought. I passed that exam!

So any salary, expenses, perks, pensions, hospitality, or corporate behaviour skeletons in our social enterprise and social economy cupboards?  The answer is probably a few – none of us are perfect and part of becoming experienced is the process of making mistakes and learning from them. I also think that some of the major organisations (see above*) in our sectors and our national life have probably fallen into that private (or senior public) sector salary comparison trap.

So here is the deal; lets make transparency a social enterprise virtue. This requires no more aggregation or opacity in our accounts on salaries and staff and board expenses, no hiding behind the “commercial confidentiality” deceit, yes to the publication of all salaries over £58k in all our organisations and yes to inviting the press in to have a snoop – as long as they tell us what they earn!

PS I think OSCR should set the first example.

MTPM blog is expresses personal opinions and in no ways refelcts the views of the Coalition.