Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Relocation Costs

...better get you cheque book ready

Despite the fact that they themselves prefer to stay comfortably ensconced in the capital city, our politicos have long been keen on relocating bureaucrats out to bleak industrial estates up North or maybe the roundabout at the end of the M4.

And in theory it's a good idea. Why pay London pay rates and London rents for civil service work that could be done somewhere much cheaper? The taxpayer could save money both directly, and indirectly by getting people off those expensive regional dole queues... sorry, Incapacity Benefit registers.

But as always, theory's one thing, practice something else again.

All too often such moves have a horrible tendency to end up actually costing us more. For example, we recently learned that the BBC's partial move up to Salford will require more taxpayers' money than leaving it in London.

And this morning we hear of more such nonsense from Scotland:

"HUNDREDS of civil servants are being paid extra to travel to work under the Executive's flagship relocation policy.

More than 3,000 workers have been relocated under the controversial scheme to move public-sector jobs out of the capital. Under civil-service rules, however, they are entitled to receive extra cash for the excess cost in travelling to new locations for work.

Yesterday, it was revealed Transport Scotland, which has been moved from Edinburgh to Glasgow, was spending £2,000 a week on fares for 57 of its 250 staff to commute. Audit Scotland has estimated the Scottish Public Pensions Agency, which moved from Edinburgh to Galashiels, will spend more than £92,000 in excess fares over five years.

The Executive was unable to calculate the cost to some 30 other agencies forced to move, but it is expected to run to hundreds of thousands of pounds.

Civil servants whose commutes have increased because of moves are also taking advantage of flexible hours to include travelling time as part of the working day."

How mad is that?

Why, you'd almost think the politicos were engineering these relocations not to save taxpayers' money, but to shore up electoral support in favoured constituencies.

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