Education needs administrators

23rd July 2004 at 01:00
The Public and Commercial Services Union notes that in his Commons statement, Charles Clarke, the Secretary of State for Education and Skills, has stated that "every penny meant for schools must get to them".

The PCS endorses this. We too believe that all public monies meant for schools, colleges and children's services must reach those vital services.

However, Mr Clarke's announcement was made after he had agreed to cut almost a third of the jobs in the Department for Education and Skills on the basis that this would release resources for the front line. This is hardly "putting people at the heart of public services".

We wonder why Mr Clarke agreed with our view that cutting 1,460 lower-grade civil servants would not offer significant savings to an area as large as the education and skills sector. If the imperative behind the job cuts is to use resources more efficiently, why is the DfES currently spending taxpayers' money on using agency staff to cover for existing staffing shortages?

The amount spent on agency staff would meet the full employment costs of more than 100 administrative grade staff and still secure a saving for the taxpayer, including those who currently work in the DfES and across the wider civil service.

Rather than making savings, Mr Clarke's cuts will lead to more taxpayers'

money being diverted away from schools, away from pupils and teachers, into employment agencies, consultants and contractors.

We fear that the DfES will become more dependent on expensive and inefficient substitutes for civil servants, with the result that money voted by Parliament for the education and skills sector will be diverted away from key public services.

We believe that this is not acceptable, and that the Government's education strategy will not generate efficiencies for the benefit of all by cutting civil service posts and then using expensive and inferior substitutes. The job cuts in the DfES will not enrich the front line; they will simply lead to a far more inefficient spending of taxpayers' money while impoverishing the proper administration of the education and skills sector.

Dave Cliff Senior national officer PCS 6 Waterloo Street Birmingham

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