Apparently, MPs are outraged that HM Revenue & Customs staff pocketed £23.6 million in bonuses despite worsening performance. In the nicest possible way, the Treasury Select Committee can kiss my... hmmm... maybe not.
For obvious reasons, I can't rehearse the arguments here as to why some of our staff genuinely merit performance-related pay, and believe me, many of them do.
However, performance related pay has been a key weapon in the fight by both Conservative and Labour administrations to drive up performance. The idea that extra money incentivises staff to work harder is a controversial one, especially is a highly-unionised organisation like HMRC. Indeed, the argument can be made to suggest that we don't go far enough.
My current pay deal, which expires this year, allows for a pot of money sufficient to pay up to 5% of my salary as a bonus. Depending on the number of nominees, in practice it works out at about 3.5%, or about £1000 before tax and NIC, if I am judged worthy. In return, I have to exceed my targets, regardless of what goes on around me, or of goalposts being moved mid-year. Not just by a little either, by a sizeable margin.
Of course, if my manager is weak, or biased, or my team is very good generally, my performance might not merit a bonus in relation to my team, even though it is excellent in national terms, because managers are limited to a set number of nominations.
All of this makes you wonder whether it is really worth the effort for perhaps £10 per week. Is 25% extra effort worth 3.5%?
The backdrop, of course, is a Treasury settlement where the Department is expected to cut costs by 5% year on year for six years, sacrificing 25,000 jobs (26% of the workforce), closing buildings and forcing taxpayers to make greater use of technology. People like me make that possible, so why aren't we entitled to share some of the benefits?