How to Stimulate the Economy, UK Edition: Make Friends with (Type II) Diabetics!


Nobody does make-work jobs like our friends in Great Britain. According to the (London) Times, local councils "have been accused of wasting millions of pounds of public money on pointless jobs, including a £23,000-a-year composting supervisor, a toothbrush adviser for infants and a ceremonial sword bearer."

An audit of local government positions, obtained under freedom of information legislation, reveals jobs that are far removed from the core remit of councils and appear to be of questionable value.

They include trampoline coaches, skate park attendants, flower arrangers, a "befriending co-ordinator" and a £15-an-hour yoga instructor.

No details are provided by The Times for the plum position of "befriending coordinator," though one needn't file a freedom of information request to find a current vacancy in Tower Hamlets, London. According to this listing (pdf), the British government is currently seeking a "befriending coordinator" capable of "establish[ing] a network of Bengali and Somali volunteers who can provide practical and moral support to Bengali and Somali people living with type 2 diabetes in Tower Hamlets." The full-time position, according to the ad, demands 35 hours a week, offers 30 days of paid holidays, and pays approximately $36,000.

In Scotland, home to countless unemployed women with angelic voices and a population slowly creeping up on the U.S. in the fattest-country-in-the-world sweepstakes, one can earn a part time government wage teaching oral hygiene to kids:

In Scotland, Angus council employs a "bouncy castle attendant" on a salary of £13,000, while Falkirk pays a part-time "toothbrush assistant" £3,032 to teach nursery children how to clean their teeth. The council also employs a "cheerleading development officer".

In Glasgow, taxpayers are funding a £17,000-a-year "street mediator" to deal with children hanging around on street corners, a florist on a £17,800 salary and a "chewing gum removal labourer".

Jacob Sullum on whether Obama's American Recovery and Reinvestment Act will create jobs or create make-work jobs.