It is three weeks since I restarted Wordblog and I have been been mildly surprised to find that the biggest search term followed by readers has been “Andrea Hill”.
I also see the growing importance of Facebook and Twitter in producing hits on the site, something a I was not seeing a couple of years ago when I was last actively blogging.
Andrea Hill’s £218,000 wage as the chief executive of Suffolk County Council seemed to me to be a sideshow to the bigger issues of cuts in care of the elderly, country parks, libraries, lollipop ladies etc.
But it is a corrosive issue. Eric Picles, the local government secretary recognises this, hence his continuing, unsuccessful, campaign to get Ms Hill and other high paid officials to take pay cuts.
On bankers’ bonuses, Chancellor Goerge Osborne, claimed victory yesterday with a deal that included increased lending to small businesses, a big society bank and some voluntary restriction on bonuses. He said it was time to “move on”, and effectively threw in the towel.
The Daily Telegraph says:
Within an hour of Mr Osborne announcing the deal, it emerged that Stephen Hester, the chief executive of RBS, will now receive a bonus of £2.04 million alongside his £1.2m salary and £400,000 pension contribution.
Eric Daniels, the outgoing chief executive of Lloyds Banking Group, will receive a bonus of £1.45m in addition to a seven-figure pay and perks package.
And Lord Oakeshott, the Lib Dem treasury spokesman in the Lords resigned after accusing Osborne’s team of “arrogance and incompetence”.
The government needs to move on because it knows how damaging huge pay differentials are. Bankers bonuses, council officials pay, and board room pay, which is bound to rear its head again soon, are issues they would like to wish away.
Most politicians, have read a a hugely influential book called The Spirit Level: Why More Equal Societies Almost Always Do Better by Richard G. Wilkinson and Kate Pickett.
It demonstrates (some statisticians challenge this) that societies with lower pay differentials do better in a whole raft of measures including education and health (more information at the Equality Trust.). They say:
The truth is that both the broken society and the broken economy result from the growth in inequality.
Politicians must know public concern about pay and bonuses is not going to go away anytime soon. Not only mainstream media, but social media is alive with it. For example, this from Left Food Forward.