UNISONActive is an unofficial blog produced by UNISON activists for UNISON activists. Bringing news, briefings and events from a progressive left perspective.

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Private sector feeding frenzy on public service carcass

Media hysteria about overpaid council chiefs, unaffordable public sector pensions and the need to cut the ‘deficit’ were put firmly into context by a sympathetic Channel 4 Dispatches entitled Britain's Secret Fat Cats: http://www.channel4.com/programmes/dispatches/episode-guide/series-84/episode-1

It outlined the numerous multi-million-pound contract deals that are being paid to private outsourcing companies across the UK. It is our money that accounts for practically half of their turnover – and of their executives’ pay packages – with very little in the way of public accountability or scrutiny.

They now account for £79 billion of state expenditure every year, a figure which will massively grow if the Government fulfils Cameron’s pledge to put nearly all state-run services out to contract.

Financial journalist Ben Laurance showed how the big 3 - SERCO, CAPITA and G4S - have all given very upbeat assessments of their position in recent weeks. Reflecting the optimism that they showed before the election,  http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/newsbysector/supportservices/7318230/Capita-sees-contract-boost-after-election.html

Paul Pindar, the chief executive of Capita was gleeful about the prospect of a public-spending squeeze. Unveiling the company’s annual report, he said ‘fiscal pressure on public spending’ is likely to ‘heighten the focus on outsourcing in the public sector in 2011’.

Serco’s chief executive Chris Hyman oversaw a profits growth by a fifth last year, and the company reckons to have an order book of £16.5 billion.

Tomorrow economist Will Hutton will publish his government-funded report Fair Pay In The Public Sector. Lets hope it will also focus on the fact that private companies are filling their boots at our expense. PFI / PPP's were just the beginning of the demise of the public sector.

Paul Pindar, on the basis of the Dispatches programme, is earning somewhat more than twenty times the lowest paid employee. In 2008, his overall pay – including share options – was worth almost £10 million – more than 700 times the salary of low paid Serco employees in the film.

Well worth a watch.

Bob Oram