Monday, November 16, 2009

Pay day: salaries in the news

Today’s news that employers' group CBI and recruitment firm Harvey Nash have found that half of all British employers plan to freeze pay will no doubt stir the debates around pay and fairness.

I’m not a regular reader of The Times but on Friday I picked up a free copy last week and read a couple of articles about pay.

The inflammatory headline Public sector workers laughing all the way to the bank caught my eye. In fact the content was a bit more subtle than that. A typical public sector worker may now earn £74.20 a week more than their private sector equivalent. The figures are partly distorted by bankers joining the public sector. (One factor not mentioned is the fact that now a lot of the lowest paid jobs have been out-sourced by the public sector to the private sector.) Nevertheless in the run up to next spring’s election the pay and the public-private divide will be a sensitive issue.

There was also a report about criticism of “greed, bonuses and supersized pay packets” in the voluntary sector from the union Unite. I personally do not have a problem with high salaries for managers in the not-for-profit sector, including the general secretaries of my old union Unite. The key thing is transparency and payment for (good) results.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Code unknown: the third sector code of governance

In a couple of weeks the consultation ends on the revised third sector code of governance. When it was launched in 2005 the original code, Good Governance: a Code for the Voluntary and Community Sector (pdf available), was a real step forward for the voluntary and charitable sector. As there was more talk and even action on the third sector running public services, it was vital that the sector raised its game.

It was disappointing to read on the Third Sector website that more than a quarter of the respondents to the code consultation had not heard of the original code. There is still some way to go…

Going Dutch – self-regulation and the problems of housing associations in the Netherlands

The Conservatives’ plans for social housing will re-open the debate over regulation: if the TSA is abolished, many in housing associations (and certainly the National Housing Federation) will advocate self-regulation on the Dutch model. Meanwhile the housing associations in the Netherlands are having some problems.

Last week it was reported that Dutch housing associations had posted an average loss of €1.2m - the first time the sector has failed to make a profit in well over a decade. This will put under strain the sectors own arrangements to rescue troubled associations. While the financial problems may be largely outside the control of the associations, the self-rescue and the self-regulation arrangements tend to support each other.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Cuts: Labour and further education colleges

Yesterday’s Observer published confidential papers that show plans for £350m of further education cuts in 2010/11.

The paper listed options including:

- Cutting by 10% of the funding of adult apprenticeships.

- Delaying the introduction of "skills accounts".

- Reducing funding for Train to Gain scheme.

I hope FE colleges are preparing for the future whoever wins the election.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Catchup - the Conservatives and regulation of social housing

Life has been busy - mostly working with organisations in the overlap of the public, charitable and education sectors. This month I will try to reserve more time for this blog.

This weekend I have been catching up on last month's issues of Public Finance. It was disappointing to see that the Conservatives appear to be planning to re-arrange the regulatory landscape for English social housing as part of the crusade against quangos. If the Tenants Services Authority is doomed, there will have to be a new regulatory regime otherwise lenders will be wary of lending to housing associations - or, if they do, it will be at higher margins.