Monthly Archives: July 2017

ERDF – the hourly rate processes need to be simplified, and in good Blue Peter fashion, here’s a better system we made earlier

I have written recently with the suggestion that in ERDF processes it would be clearer to talk about staff having “shared duties” between an ERDF project and other projects, rather than saying they are “part-time” on the project. Not least because they could be really part-time.

And we should remind ourselves, staff with shared duties are required to complete a timesheet which splits their hours worked each day between their project tasks and their other tasks.

A few years ago the method used for claims was to calculate an hourly rate for each person with shared duties, based in their contracted hours and pay, and then to apply this to the project hours worked each month. Let’s call this system one.

However, a problem was said to exist with a few individuals, usually those spending over 85% of their time on project duties and in a few busiest months. In these circumstances, hourly rate multiplied by the hours worked could be more than the person was actually paid that month. It would average out with other months where holidays were taken, but that apparently wasn’t good enough as an answer.

And so, we now have a prior twelve month ‘census’ or data collection process for payroll finances and a national formula which ignores individual contracted hours and lengths of permitted holidays, all requiring hours of desk work to be undertaken for each individual by applicants, and further hours of work for the officials to check in absolute detail for compliance. Let’s call this system two.

But, we are told, the advantage of using this highly laborious method – system two – makes it permissible to accept the anomaly of hourly rate times hours exceeding the actual paid amount in the busiest months, because a fair rate has been exhaustively calculated.

But, if it permissible to claim above the monthly salary in a busy month, balanced out in other months, in the second system, why can’t we just revert to the first system and accept the same anomaly while using system one instead?

No twelve-month census. No national formula.

Some may say that system two stops people playing with the formula to calculate too high an hourly rate. But system one has the same safeguard because the calculations equally had to be agreed with officials in advance. If some applicants were blatantly playing the system, just tell them no. The financial principle of requiring calculations to be true and fair sums it up nicely.

We should return to the relative sanity of system one.

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ERDF jargon – it would be clearer to say “shared duties” than “part-time” for staff who complete timesheets

A suggestion … with all the confusion in ERDF circles around the current use of the phrase “part-time” for staff who need to complete timesheets, I suggest a new phrase – “shared duties”.

Because someone with shared duties can work 37 hours a week, or 16, or whatever; just not all of them on the project.

And if you don’t have shared duties then you don’t need to complete a timesheet.

We the people wish to remain in the EU

There are reliable accounts that a democratic Brexit referendum this year would show a 60% vote to remain in the EU. What should we do now?
A year ago 17.4 million people voted to leave, 52%. It was called “the will of the people”. If over 18 million now want to remain, we need to communicate our honest change of position.
The 18 million should all write a letter to the EU with one sentence: “we the people wish to remain in the EU and we hereby rescind Article 50 of the Treaty.”
With modern technology an online petition seems a natural choice, but we need some caveats.
For online security it needs to be organised by an organisation with ultra-strong security processes and audit credibility, a retail bank such as the Co-op.
For resources it needs fair-minded non-party backers, such as the Sainsbury and Rowntree trustees.
For avoiding fraud it needs people to give their full names, unique national insurance numbers and an anti-robot element.
For people who don’t use online processes an equivalent postal coupon (cheque size) printed in newspapers and leaflets would be machine counted.
For fairness it would be monitored by the Electoral Reform Society and overseen by a non-political board of national leaders from all faiths and none.
Hostile organisations at home and abroad would try to troll and hack it, so any extra behind-the-scenes support from the Bank of England and the security services would be welcomed, even if never revealed in detail. Closing date, Christmas Day.
When we are living in a failed state, sometimes we the people have to take matters into our own hands.

The politics of our anger: to transform the future or to punish the Other

There is a barrister that I follow ( @GeorgePeretzQC ) and he tweeted a link to this recent guest lecture by Martha Nussbaum on anger. 

He says, “This is about the important stuff. From one the most profound and interesting political philosophers writing today.” 

It was from a discussion thread with others which included: 

  • “Superb essay by Martha Nussbaum on why anger poisons democracy” and 
  • “[This lecture tells us about how] Politically extreme governments actively impairing quality of life and lowering living standards of the majority creates anger”.

She shows how anger comes from fear, but without fear we would also be without love. However there are two types of anger: the good one leads us to change the future for the better, the bad one turns us against other people and looks for retribution and scapegoats. 

Finally in this too-quick summary, people who are pre-occupied by their relative status and worrying themselves about being better than others, when they feel wronged they will focus their anger on retribution against the other. 

An excellent read – 

https://www.neh.gov/about/awards/jefferson-lecture/martha-nussbaum-jefferson-lecture