An example of inefficiency in public spending that I would have reported to the coalition cuts website if such a thing still existed. It annoyed me so much I feel the need to blog. Anyway.
My Mum works in a hospital. The details of exactly how she gets her paycheque are boring and complicated and I dont understand. But what matters is a letter she got today. In order to get within a mile of the hospital she needs a pass for a car parking space. Now for some reason it has been decided, in the infinite wisdom of large organisations, that there is an admin cost to having a reserved parking area for staff. And as such they want to charge people who work at the hospital for the parking space.
So we're already off to a bad start, there's no next to no upkeep costs on a bit of tarmac and an electronic gate, and as everyone who works there has to use the car park it would surely be easier for this to come out of central hospital funds rather than coming out of pay rather indirectly.
The next step is what shall the charge be. It turns out that it would be far too simple to say "the car park costs £x/year to run and there are n employees here, so each person pay £x/n per year". Instead we have a sliding scale. If you're on £9k or less it costs about a tenth what it costs someone on £70k. So not only do we have the faff of moving funds from maintenance to payroll to employee to maintenance, we have the extra faff of needing to state how much you get paid before buying a ticket to get into the car park. The admin costs of this are mad.
So the letter to my mum, outlines the current situation and says that as a cost-cutting exercise this will be changed. Hurrah, they're going to cut the bureaucracy, good on them. Sadly no. What they're going to do is offer an optional alternative way of paying for the car park. So we're running two parallel systems, doubling admin, wonderful, carry on. The alternative is that you can have the charge taken out of gross income not net (at a different level than before to be reviewed annually). The effect of this is a very small change in the cost to the employee.
The reason why this is a cost saving measure is that by effectively paying a slightly lower salary there's slightly lower pension and NI payments, which means slightly less cost for the trust that pays the salaries in employee contributions. Oh yeh, and somewhere in this process HMRC gets involved ... just to add more people into the equation.
I cant be the only person who thinks this is insane. We're trying to cut costs not by say, not doing stupid things, but by doing stupid things in a more complicated way to the benefit of one department of the same organisation (whatever hideous monstrosity of a body writes pay checks) at the expense of the whole. If you want to cut costs you stop doing things you dont need to, charging for the car park is one of them. Just cut the entire bureaucratic process and pay for the car park like you pay for lightbulbs and windows.
Urg, it's stupid little unnecessary things like that that really bug me. Why cant someone just sit down and say "this is all going, we're paying for that object out of the right budget, there will be no forms involved in this decision".