The job’s a joke – and it’s on us

23 Feb

Some residents want to talk to Richard Crawford about their experience

After much delay Newham council has finally published details of what the mayor’s fleet of advisors and cabinet members are supposed to be doing in exchange for their ‘special responsibilities allowances’.

And what dismal reading they make.

Far from being detailed job descriptions, with performance measures that we can use to judge whether they’ve actually done what they’ve been paid to do, they are insultingly brief – a few bullet points of meaningless management jargon.

Take this example:

Advise the Mayor on all matters relating to resident experience, including:

  • To take a strategic overview of all resident experience – across the whole organisation.
  • To understand and learn from what residents value.
  • To interpret the feedback we receive from residents – informing the Mayor about analysis and trends.
  • Oversee the contract compliance function of the organisation

Having read that I still have no idea what Richard Crawford actually does. And this is a full-time, 5 days a week job for which he gets the maximum allowance of £33,735 on top of his £10,829 basic.

Councillor Ken Clark is similarly well-rewarded for his ‘work’ as Executive member for Building Communities and Public Affairs. His time is,  allegedly, fully accounted for by this:

Advise the Mayor on all matters relating to Community Neighbourhoods in Newham. 

  • Promoting economic, community and personal resilience.
  • To drive up activity, satisfaction and resilience in community neighbourhoods – empowering residents to lead and shape their community.
  • To be the eyes and ears of the council, sharing information and local intelligence – feeding that information back into the council to better improve what we do.
  • To provide political leadership to Newham’s public affairs profile – ensuring the needs and views of Newham residents are heard by decision makers across and outside of Newham

To borrow a much-loathed bit of consultant-speak, “what does success look like?” How will we know if he has ‘driven up’ activity, satisfaction and resilience in community neighbourhoods? With no baseline to measure against and no targets, there’s no way to tell. And I don’t suppose the mayor cares. The jobs are a joke; a set of phantoms conjured up to justify stuffing cash into the pockets of his closest allies.

The ultimate proof of this is that special responsibility allowances are

calculated according to the days considered by Council or the Mayor to be requisite to fulfil the duties set out in the Job Profile and / or Portfolio of the Office Held

In practice it is always the Mayor that decides how many days a job needs to take. So the likes of Crawford, Clark, Desai, Furness, Baikie and Ian Corbett all have jobs that require five full days a week. It doesn’t matter what the job is, it always takes 5 days. And it therefore always pays top whack.

Perhaps while PwC are looking at the books the Audit Commission could ask them to do a ‘value for money’ study on the mayor’s advisors. The results would be very interesting.

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One Response to “The job’s a joke – and it’s on us”

  1. Birdman February 24, 2015 at 14:00 #

    Nothing new here. It’s pretty much what Mike Law uncovered some years ago. The voting public either don’t know, don’t care or are too stupid to do either. The argument always given is that the electorate must be in agreement as they keep voting the Mayor and his councillors back in with impressive majorities. The question is would they if they knew of the things that you publicise on your blog. The local press don’t care, Eric Pickles doesn’t care (he calls it localism unless it’s Tower Hamlets), the Labour Party positively encourage it at a regional and national level and locally the Party does and says nothing.

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