Barlow's Beef: Why public services are not short of money


Most of the front-line people I meet in the public service sector are genuinely eager to provide a good service. Unfortunately (for them) they are often inhibited from doing so by financial restraints.

Senior management in the public sector complain constantly about lack of funding and quite frankly I don't buy it.

Let me give you an example: Cheshire East finances are sufficiently under pressure they can't afford to light the streets at night. Away from major road junctions it's like driving in a WWII black out. Respite homes are closing and care for the mentally ill is all but non-existent in practice.

They can however afford to pay one officer almost £300K in severance pay after three years in office. Each time they reveal one of these ludicrous severance deals they insist there is 'nothing we can do'. They are apparently powerless to control the payout of council officers but perfectly able to cut public services and benefits to the most vulnerable.

They can also afford to lose huge sums of money setting up commercial companies with taxpayers' money that serve residents in no way whatsoever.

Seriously ill patients frequently have to fight to get costly treatment but £300K handed out to one council officer, who may have another job before the ink dries on the cheque, is routinely approved. If CEC is genuinely strapped for cash surely that sort of stupidity should be the first to be cut.

When four Cheshire police officers were suspended on full pay it took over three years before the investigation reached a conclusion. Meanwhile the constabulary complained bitterly about under funding.

Senior management at Macclesfield General Hospital went one better suspending one highly paid individual for twice the length of his active service. Does that indicate the sense of urgency one would expect from an under funded organisation?

No private company could or would tolerate this. Competition simply would not allow it. Any CEO in charge of such a company would be quickly shown the door not, as often happens in the public sector, found another job on the same salary away from public scrutiny.

Why do front-line staff and services face cut backs while senior management receive outrageous pay-offs and benefits? The answer is quite simple: management follow the line of least resistance. It's easier to close a respite home than fire a top executive. Sick and vulnerable people have no water-tight contracts or expensive lawyers fighting their case.

Cheshire East are not alone the practice is spread throughout public services. Katrina Perry, head of Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust, 'resigned' recently after her Trust's failure to examine the cause of hundreds of unexpected patient deaths.

She has since been given the role of consultant adviser on the same £240K package. Quite who will benefit from that 'advice' remains a mystery.

Does any of that make sense when the NHS constantly complain of under funding? How do you explain that to nurses and sick patients suffering from staff shortages?

Public services get away with such practices because they can. They have been doing it for so long it has become the accepted norm. Were they in the real commercial world competition would wipe them out but they are not.

It's time we saw through the façade. Public services are NOT under funded they are badly managed.

NB: My apologies to all those working on the front-line who are often as frustrated as the long-suffering public.

The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of

Barlow's Beef, Vic Barlow


Here's what readers have had to say so far. Why not add your thoughts below.

Nick Jones
Tuesday 6th September 2016 at 1:10 pm
The biggest waste of public money was 'splitting' this small county into two independent bodies to do the same job..... Then appoint a succession of persons to pay lip service in joining it back together again.... So before we do the Lyme Green / Co-socious etc etc.... This is Millions 'Year on Year'.. which goes some way to explain why front line staff are facing cut backs... Whilst Nero fiddles, Rome burns !!
Bob Bracegirdle
Wednesday 7th September 2016 at 5:22 pm
Bob Bracegirdle
Don't ever think this process does not go on in private companies because it does. Influence counts for a lot.

But you are right about the ridiculous sums these days. When I worked in local government the salaries were about 2/3 to 3/4 of those paid in private industry. Quite rightly. I was a a principal Officer in a county council and my present pension is around £7500 a year after 21 years' service. You can work the rest out yourself.

As you say though, there is actually lots of money sloshing around. It's just that we don't have it.
Simon Worthington
Thursday 8th September 2016 at 8:27 am
Add in the £2 BILLION handed to nhs hierarchy in redundancy packages over 5 years some of whom then walked back into similar jobs with inflated salaries!!
Barry Stafford
Thursday 8th September 2016 at 8:52 am
The same applies in the likes of the BBC. Presenters and Journalists are paid £3/4/500,000 for one for a few days work. A lot of their work is done by teams of researchers.Yet the Beeb says they have to pay the market rate WHAT!!!!! Where are they going to go, to get higher salaries. As for Katrina Perry as mentioned. THis is another revolving job for incompetence. The job was created for her,not advertised and no other applicants. Her salary was originally £180.000 now stands at £240.000 . Who the hell passed this deal. How can we ever save money in the health service.Its not just these ridiculous salaries,pay-offs,but the pensions for life to follow. Baz
Vic Barlow
Thursday 8th September 2016 at 9:42 pm
So…what we are really saying is that the so-called 'shortage of funding' is in reality simply incompetent self-serving management tolerated by successive governments.
Far easier to squeeze taxpayers than eradicate these outrageous practices.

Personally, I don't believe any public services would be short of funding were they managed for the benefit of the public instead of the management.