Friday, 16 October 2009

Pant and Ting

I may have spoken about the Civil Service on more than one occasion. I have had dealings with them in my professional life over the years, and can speak from experience also as some of my best friends are also on Her Majesty's payroll.

Those of you who are au fait will know that the Civil Service has a fairly rigid structure, and everyone works to their grade. I think that the grades are ranked as below, though I do have my doubts about whether SGB 1 or SGB 2 is higher, and I am aware that there are ongoing efforts to bring about change. But I still believe that the ranking below applies more or less.

SGB 1 (Ability to use basic tools desirable, but not essential)
SGB 2 (As above. There is no difference, except about £20 a week)
AA (Must not show any initiative. Not allowed free use of telephone)
AO (As above, but internal telephone calls permitted)
EO (Should show the ability to demonstrate the opposable thumb)
HEO (A level of intelligence sufficient to prepare a spreadsheet)
SEO (First class rail travel is permitted)
Grade 7 (Must have developed a teflon back)
Grade 6 (Works from home on Fridays)
Grade 5 (This is where SCS, or Senior Civil Servants, begins; motto: The Best Is Not Good Enough. Rarely seen in the wild)
Grade 4... and so on,up to the heights of Perm Sec and beyond.

One could be critical of this hide-bound archaic arrangement. I have worked in companies where there is at least the illusion of an absence of hierarchy, where the Chairman sits at a desk exactly the same size and type as a finance admin, where everyone is known by their first name only, and where the whole shooting match is invited to 'front end' briefings each month in order to share in the company's greater direction, and thus contribute to the ongoing success, etc.

However, the one thing I have noticed during my recent sojourns in the dark recesses of government is that the grades, and the people in them are curiously well matched. Of course, there will always be people who are destined for greater things, just as there are those who are clearly not of the standard to occupy the positions in which they find themselves. But, on the whole, things just seem to fit. It becomes a terrible habit after a while to look at someone and wonder - almost before anything else - what grade they are, before nodding sagely when one discovers that one is right.

I's strictly roots.


Michael said...

The person who's currently handling my attempts to get a tax refund might just be off the lower end of your scale.

By about a mile.

Myeral said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Myeral said...

I felt a bit beastly about that post, tbh, but the stuff about phones used to be true. As recently as the 80s, only AO and above were allowed a phone. Hard to imagine now. Sorry to hear about your tax problems.