What’s the Public Sector really worth?

JUNE 11, 2010 12:06 AM| no comments

Right now everyone we talk to is waiting for the emergency budget later this month. And in the public sector they’re bracing themselves for cuts that will surely come. Some commentators are looking for job cuts of around 15% so the public sector can share the pain that the private sector has already endured.

And yes of course over time we need to reduce the budget deficit. And yes of course as an entrepreneur I want to see imaginative ways of doing it. But what bothers me is that it is easy in all this to miss the point and not to appreciate the real value frontline workers bring.

And sometimes if you’re looking for inspiration the public sector is, some would think surprisingly, often the place to come. Let me give you a couple of examples. We’re just finishing filming – alongside the LGA – the first ever local government challenge. It’s an attempt at finding the local government leaders of the future.

Two teams of six battle it out on a series of challenges to find out who is fired and who is hired – a format that might be familiar to some of you. At the last challenge – one to revamp shops on a busy high street – the young people were discussing late into the night the best ways to bring that community to life. Real passion and real commitment, and it’s in the public sector.

And this is also the time to vote for your council worker of the year – www.localgovernmentchannel.com/awards. This year we’re running six categories and again we’re looking for frontline workers who go over and above the call of duty on a daily basis. Just take a look at the finalists and tell me they don’t inspire you! And it has caught the public imagination too with literally hundreds of thousands of visits to the voting page.

And whilst I can’t reveal the winners yet I can tell you about the winner of last year’s Bravery category – Barry from Mansfield. Barry is a street cleaner who put out a fire in a petrol station saving many lives. A real unsung hero and a good friend of ours. So yes lets talk about cuts to the public sector but if we ever lose sight of the contribution that Barry and his colleagues make to our society then whatever money is saved our lives will still be all the poorer.

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