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In the Crossfire...
In the Crossfire

Stefan Cross has the luxury of focusing on the single issue of back pay - netting him 10% of multi-million pound settlements. It is easy to understand why lower-paid women are attracted by his 'no-win/no-fee' offer (LGC, 27 July), but we suggest reading the small print. 'No-win/no-fee' doesn't mean 'no cost'. Once signed up, if a woman decides not to proceed she will face a 'release' fee which could be several hundred pounds. One has to question why someone who claims to have the interests of lower paid women at heart finds this necessary.

Jim Savege

Chair, Strategic Authorities HR Group, West Midlands Local Government Association

Spending must stop

Since 2000, Britain's economic output has grown by around 10% in real terms, and private sector pay has increased similarly. An increase paid for by improved performance: more sales, higher output per hour worked, less wastage. Few of these imperatives apply to the public sector, yet average pay has increased by over 2% more than in the private sector.

There has been a huge increase in the number of people employed in the public sector. In local government alone the workforce has increased by some 150,000, thus adding considerably to the overall tax burden.

All in all, local government spending has risen twice as fast as inflation, so no wonder so many people are now in high dudgeon over council tax bills.

It simply cannot go on - efficiency and productivity have to be the watchwords if the UK is to compete in the international market for public services.

Ian Keys

Partnership director, Pinnacle psg

Backhouse blunder?

Such a pity that Roger Backhouse (LGC, 20 July) fails to understand that in order to improve processes you need to identify a starting point if you are to compare and learn from other organisations. This therefore involves the boring but necessary collection of data.

Having been involved in running a local government process benchmarking system Performance Networks, comparing performance across 203 local authorities in 16 different service areas for the past seven years, I do understand.

If Mr Backhouse wants to put down his theory book for a moment I am quite prepared to show him how many authorities are getting on with the process of improving performance.

To belittle the service improvements councils have made over the past years will do little to encourage the easing of the control mechanisms imposed by government.

Paul O'Brien

Chief executive, Association for Public Service Excellence

Agents of change

I was intrigued to read your article on the benefits and challenges of being a freelance consultant (LGC, 13 July) partly because of what it did say but mostly because of what it didn't.

It is true that consultancy is a proven way of leveraging experience in the public sector into a new career, but its rewards are not just personal (greater income, freedom from corporate life and so on). Far more significantly they are about helping clients to achieve their maximum potential by using a hard acquired combination of experience, technical knowledge and ability to bring about enduring change and service improvement.

Kate Ward

Director, public services division,

The Consultancy Company

Time to air the facts

Thank you for covering the story of Matt Finnegan, the head of media at Liverpool City Council who has been suspended for more than a year on what he and I believe are trumped-up charges (LGC, 20 July).

Mr Finnegan is a member of the National Union of Journalists and we are calling for his disciplinary hearing to be held in public.

He has nothing to hide, and we believe his case throws into sharp focus the power relationship between elected councillors and unelected officers.

Miles Barter

NUJ regional organiser, Manchester

Men are victims too

Your article on domestic violence (LGC, 27 July) states that one in four women will experience domestic violence. Yes that's true, but the same British Crime Survey data (2001) also states that one in six men will suffer domestic violence.

Yet your article paints a picture where only women are victims and only men are the perpetrators.

Paul Morrison

Scrutiny officer, South Kesteven DC

Please limit your letter to 200 words. LGC reserves the right to edit letters prior to publication

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