Watching the Gimbals

There’s a continuous theme in the film Apollo 13 where Mission Control is telling the crew to watch their gimbals. The gimbal being a device which indicates balance. There are many parallels in our other lives. Where was the balance in the Spanish banks? Deposits control your ability to lend and your asset and liability policies control what you can do with the money. Which is why the Spanish banking crisis is interesting as the asset policies obviously did not specify a prudent limit on financing speculative building. This week I attended a Revenues and Benefits Committee meeting. This committee comprises representatives from the three partners (Babergh, Mid Suffolk and Ipswich Borough Councils) and the Management of the Revs and Bens Joint Venture. The management report advised of that annual costs were ahead of budget and that technical and integration issues were being worked through. So three cheers all round. However a disturbing picture emerges when you look at the “customer related ” performance trends. The accuracy of benefit processing over the year (for Babergh) was 96.2% in April 2011 and 87.5% in April 2012 which indicates that in 2011 the reject rate was one in twenty six and in 2012 it was one in eight! The worst month for accuracy was February when only 78.3% of the benefit processing was accurate. Similarly the time taken to process new claims deteriorated from 19 days to 34 days. Why is it that the drive for efficiency afflicts the disadvantaged and vulnerable – that’s why they are on benefits? Meanwhile it has been suggested that I talk to the Head of the Shared Revenues Partnership and I look forward to the next meeting of the Committee in July. What about the gimbals? Well when you concentrate on the wrong things you’re liable to be found on the wrong side of a mis-match when Nemesis catches up with Hubris.

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