Page last updated at 00:15 GMT, Monday, 14 December 2009

Cleaners 'worth more to society' than bankers - study

By Martin Shankleman,
Employment correspondent, BBC News

Hospital cleaners steaming beds in a hospital
Hospital cleaners play a vital role, the study found

Hospital cleaners are worth more to society than bankers, a study suggests.

The research, carried out by think tank the New Economics Foundation, says hospital cleaners create £10 of value for every £1 they are paid.

It claims bankers are a drain on the country because of the damage they caused to the global economy.

They reportedly destroy £7 of value for every £1 they earn. Meanwhile, senior advertising executives are said to "create stress".

The study says they are responsible for campaigns which create dissatisfaction and misery, and encourage over-consumption.

Waste recycling worker standing by a pile of plastic bottles
Waste workers promote recycling, researchers note

And tax accountants damage the country by devising schemes to cut the amount of money available to the government, the research suggests.

By contrast, child minders and waste recyclers are also doing jobs that create net wealth to the country.

The Foundation has used a new form of job evaluation to calculate the total contribution various jobs make to society, including for the first time the impact on communities and environment.

Eilis Lawlor, spokeswoman for the New Economics Foundation, said: "Pay levels often don't reflect the true value that is being created. As a society, we need a pay structure which rewards those jobs that create most societal benefit rather than those that generate profits at the expense of society and the environment".

Ledger sheet and pen
Tax accountants are said to destroy 47 in value for every 1 generated

She said the aim of the research was not to target individuals in highly paid jobs, or suggest people in low paid jobs should earn more.

"The point we are making is more fundamental - that there should be a relationship between what we are paid and the value our work generates for society. We've found a way to calculate that," she said.

A total of six different jobs were analysed to assess their overall value. These are the study's main findings:

  • The elite banker

"Rather than being wealth creators bankers are being handsomely rewarded for bringing the global financial system to the brink of collapse

Paid between £500,000 and £80m a year, leading bankers destroy £7 of value for every pound they generate".

  • Childcare workers

"Both for families and society as a whole, looking after children could not be more important. As well as providing a valuable service for families, they release earnings potential by allowing parents to continue working. For every pound they are paid they generate up to £9.50 worth of benefits to society."

  • Hospital cleaners

"Play a vital role in the workings of healthcare facilities. They not only clean hospitals and maintain hygiene standards but also contribute to wider health outcomes. For every pound paid, over £10 in social value is created."

  • Advertising executives

The industry "encourages high spending and indebtedness. It can create insatiable aspirations, fuelling feelings of dissatisfaction, inadequacy and stress. For a salary of between £50,000 and £12m top advertising executives destroy £11 of value for every pound in value they generate".

  • Tax accountants

"Every pound that a tax accountant saves a client is a pound which otherwise would have gone to HM Revenue. For a salary of between £75,000 and £200,000, tax accountants destroy £47 in value, for every pound they generate."

  • Waste recycling workers

"Do a range of different jobs that relate to processing and preventing waste and promoting recycling. Carbon emissions are significantly reduced. There is also a value in reusing goods. For every pound of value spent on wages, £12 of value is generated for society."

The research also makes a variety of policy recommendations to align pay more closely with the value of work.

These include establishing a high pay commission, building social and environmental value into prices, and introducing more progressive taxation.



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SEE ALSO
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