The best of both worlds


Vince Cable is often portrayed as the economic guru of the Commons. However, his latest speech to the Lib Dem spring conference has left me unsure of his opinions.

I find myself agreeing with him on a number of issues. For example, civil servants should not ‘expect’ a bonus, even if they perform poorly. At the moment, if they perform well, they are given bonuses in reward, and if they fail to meet targets, they are given bonuses as incentives to do better. This is clearly absurd and counterproductive, reinforcing an inefficient public sector workforce.

However, I don’t agree that high earners within private companies should have their salaries disclosed. Firstly, a person’s salary is a private arrangement between themselves and their employers – the government has no right intruding into this aspect of our lives. Also, if every ‘high’ earner were forced to disclose their earnings, they would have even more of an incentive to hide their wealth abroad, resulting in a net loss for our economy.

Fundamentally, there is big difference between working in the private and public sectors, although of late these lines have become merged. Public sector workers enjoy job security, public sector pensions and the opportunity to serve the public, while private sector workers do not enjoy such similar graces, as many are currently discovering. Top civil servants should not be allowed to enjoy the benefits of both worlds – if they are continue to enjoy private sector bonuses they should face similar risks.