Monday, 3 October 2011

How much does the States member cost the taxpayer?

I've had one individual standing ask me for statistics on "roughly how much each States sitting costs per hour per States member".

I'm discounting overhead costs - backup staff, transcriptions, the Bailiff etc. For one thing, these are variable - sometimes the Greffier sits rather than the Bailiff, and for another, It's like costing an individual account preparer's work in an accountancy firm by adding all the overheads to it, the partner's time spent checking their work, plus cost of back office administrators who don't earn fees. Cost accountancy doesn't work like that.

If you want to look at that, you need to consider it in its own right - for instance the cost of the Bailiff for States sittings - but you'd have to know how many he attended, and the time spent on his other duties, as for example, a judge in the Royal Court.

For 2010 the Assembly sat for 293 hours and 46 minutes in 2010. The special meeting on Liberation Day lasted only 14 minutes, and the time spent during the other 49 meeting days for 'ordinary' business was therefore 293 hours and 32 minutes.

The Assembly convened on a total of 50 days during the year, with 49 of these meeting days being for 'ordinary' business and with one meeting being the traditional special meeting on Liberation Day, 9th May.

So discounting Liberation day, you have (if on £45,000 per annum)45,000 / 294 = £153 per hour cost to public per States member

That's the sort of figure we get in the JEP, and probably Ben Shenton will come out with! And to which the public response is "wow!", "money for old rope", "fine work if you can get it" etc

But the danger with this kind of statistic is what it leaves out - a lot!!!

Let's assume that other work - either as a Minister, Assistant Minister, or backbencher dealing with constituency items and research and meetings takes just another 30 weeks. That's a year of 37 working weeks all told. (49 days = 7 weeks).

Still pretty good going - 15 weeks off a year, but so do some professions like teachers or lecturers at Highlands.

Say 6 hours for each day - same as a States sitting - of those 30 weeks, makes 30 x 6 x 5 = 900 hours
Total hours = 900 + 294 = 1194 hours
Cost per hour = 45000 / 1194 = £38 per hour approx, which is much less.

Backtracking, our 294 hours cost £38 x 294 = £11, 172 per member.

Even a lazy States member on 25 extra weeks above States sittings, with only 4 hours per day for those, comes out far below our "shocker" of £153 per hour, at instead £57 per hour.

And there's no pension element built into this either, or the fact that a conscientious Member may turn out in evenings to meetings, or to help members of the public at weekends or in the evening (and possibly even in the middle of the night). Sean Power, for example, has carried out hundreds of home visits on Saturdays or Sundays and held over 75 constituency clinics, mostly at Communicare.

Now it could well be the case (as I know with some members), that the work done in research, meetings, constituency matters, is much more than our first scenario. A good back bencher hasn't got a department to do all the work in research for them, whereas a Minister needs just send a memo!

Ministers, on the other hand, may have their own larger workflow with meetings, departmental agendas, policy matters, signing off documents, reviewing material etc. And they have to be present on a regular basis in the office during working hours.

So it is very dangerous to just take States meetings as the basis for cost per States member!

For figures and all kinds of useful info see States Assembly - Annual Report 2010

This used to be available on Privileges and Procedures with a proper name to the PDF. Now it is sort of buried away under a number!

P.S. Juliette Gallichan has posted a comment within an hour
to say it is now available easily headed up on
Privileges and Procedures website.
Fast work! I'm impressed. Thank you Juliette.


Juliette Gallichan said...

You raised a good point at the end of your posting. Although the report can quickly be found using the search facility on the States Assembly website, I agree that it should also be available from the PPC reports page, as previously. We have now added the link, with a "proper name".

TonyTheProf said...

Thanks - that's very welcome. It took a bit of searching to find it.

Mark Forskitt said...

Those are only the direct costs, Tony. What about all the others - the failure to hedge the euro cost of the incinerator, for example.