I work for the NHS. It’s a good employer, offering a nice working environment and perks like flexi-time, somewhat offset by the salary that most people with my skills would probably baulk at. If you read the news or watch TV then you’ll know that the NHS is no longer a socialist’s dream, it’s actually an attempt to introduce a health care system that makes money. Yes, it wants to be American. A tad ironic perhaps, given that Obama apparently wants to ape the NHS, but I’m getting away from the point.
The point is that where I work we had people in charge that thought it would be a good idea to run the hospital into the ground financially. They probably didn’t actually think this was a good idea, although I suspect many people were fooled into thinking they did. Such was the state of affairs that cost-cutting measures were required.
One of the novel ways chosen to cut costs was not to cut costs at all, but to levy a Work Tax on staff at the hospital. This took the form of charging staff for parking their car. Yes, that’s correct, they decided to charge staff to come to work. So, now we had to pay cash money in order to earn cash money in the first place. We had to pay to come to work so that we could earn enough money to pay for the cost of going to work. Staff were now paying money to go to work, to help reduce the deficit created by the people running the hospital. I’m calm, I’m calm.
Once the initial sense of outrage had died down and we all paid our parking fees dutifully, well we no longer really cared. At least we got to park. Well, some of us did. The actual paying of a car parking fee did not guarantee anyone a parking space. I know, I know. Imagine that arrangement in your local multi-storey. But, yes, we paid and got over it and didn’t really care.
Recently, however, the powers-that-be have decided to create a “Salary Sacrifice” scheme to help us get our parking and increase our take-home pay. Basically, it’s a tax trick. They reduce our salary by the cost of the parking, we pay less tax, and then end up with about an extra £5-£10 a month in our pay. Fair enough. Win-win.
The thing that galls me is that it has been presented as something the hospital is doing to continue being an “employer of choice”. Oh, really? Trying to “…lighten the burden…” of the increased – did I mention the price is going up? – fee. That’s the fee they levied on us in the first place. To pay for, you know, the “deficit”.
I shouldn’t complain, as I will be slightly better off, but boy does the NHS sound like a roaring capitalist corporation sometimes.
Well, it would do, wouldn’t it?