William Spencer

Naked Politics Blogger

As Britain’s many royalists sat in front of their televisions last weekend, drooling at the images of celebration of the Queen’s 90th birthday, several new policies were introduced by the government. Besotted by our Head of State reaching another milestone, the public largely remains completely unaware of such measures. Not only do the policies appear completely abhorrent, but the fact that the Tories used such a high profile event, knowing the papers would use every page and the news channels every hour to cover it, is equally as shocking. Such a move only highlights their lack of desire to have them publicised. The specific policy in question regards the controversial issue of bonuses. In this case the Tories decided on the genius idea of making 10% of senior Civil Servants, the alleged highest performing, eligible for bonuses of up to £5,000.

The issue of bonuses remains controversial. To me it is one of the greatest flaws of the capitalist system. The fact that high paid individuals, in return for doing a good job, receive an upfront payment, a large one at that. The idea that bankers should receive such payments is truly shocking. Bankers work hard to invest in companies and when they see returns they expect to see a chunk of that come back to them as reward. What makes it worse is that they are asked if they want the bonus, thus saying yes means they think they deserve it. At a time when the irresponsible speculation of the bankers caused the worst recession this country has experienced since before the Second World War, bankers should certainly not be taking bonuses.

However this is not about the greedy minds of the bankers. In making senior Civil Servants eligible for these bonuses, the Tories explained they are rewards for an “outstanding contribution” to their government departments. I find issue with this however. Any worker, and a Senior Civil Servant in particular is paid to do such a job. Like any employee, they are paid to fulfil their role to the best of their ability. If they were in the job to simply fill the role and slack, they would not be in that job. In the case of senior Civil Servants this should apply even more fervently. They are put into such high positions because they supposedly have the skills and capabilities to be able to handle the pressure of dealing with important government decisions and implementing them. With such a position they are naturally paid a large salary. That’s all well and good, and can be understood. But to offer them a bonus on top of that for excellent work and bringing success is just absurd. They are expected to bring success to the department, that is why they are in the job and paid so well. It makes you think, are the Department of Health civil servants getting these bonuses for an “outstanding contribution”? They’re advising and implementing the work of the Health Secretary and we all know how that is going. What about Work & Pensions? Is the genius who worked with Iain Duncan-Smith to come up with cuts to disability benefits receiving a bonus?

It must make you wonder, the senior Civil Servants who don’t end up receiving a bonus, are the judged as doing poorly? In other words, not doing their job. Surely then they just be reprimanded and seen as unfit to hold such an important positon. If this is the case and they are fired, it just places further confusion as to why they receive a bonus in the first place. Why is the £5,000 bonus not just added to their salary on the job description because they’re either going to get it anyway or hopefully fired for not doing their job properly?

Aside from my sheer opposition to bonuses in these sort of jobs, I find it scandalous that the government sees fit to introduce this right now, after everything that has transpired in recent months. Cut to tax credits, cuts to disability benefits, cuts to the NHS, cuts across the Civil Service in places like HMRC where staffing is needed most to bring in revenue for the government. In an era of austerity where the government wants to spend within their means, cutting even the most vital services, they feel it is wise to offer up extra cash to well-paid Civil Servants who are doing their job. Maybe I would not feel this angry at times of economic prosperity, when the budget is balanced and our economy is booming at a domestic and global level. But we aren’t experiencing that, nor will we for a good while. Anyone in their right mind can simply see that money could be used elsewhere, to save a cut that the Tories are planning that we don’t need.

Despite all that should discredit this policy, another was announced alongside this. The Armed forces will be receiving a measly 1% wage increase to match the cap of the rest of the public sector. A newly trained Private will therefore receive and extra £181 a year to make their salary £18,306. At a time when senior Civil Servants have just been offered bonuses of £5,000, on the spot, it is a smack in the face to those that fight for our safety and freedom. It really shows what our government thinks of the Armed Forces and how much they value their role compared to well-paid individuals to whom they want to see earn more. This just adds to how out of touch the Tories are with the British people and how low they will go. It really emphasises where their priorities lie when they make small wage increases, massive cuts to the poor, but hand out bonuses for no apparent reason.

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Last Update: April 28, 2018