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

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Time to loosen the grip of corporate sharks on public services

UNISON has issued a timely repeat of the union's longstanding call for an inquiry into privatisation in the wake of last week's revelations that private companies providing public services are routinely “gaming the system” to make money for their shareholders at the expense of the taxpayer. However the resilience and staying power of the £100bn per year and fast expanding public services industrial complex should not be underestimated.
   DeAnne Julius, writing in the Financial Times, was quick off the mark to defend the ‘outsourcing industry’ in the wake of the latest privatisation scandal.

Julius was appointed by Labour in 2008 to lead a Public Services Industry Review and is now a leading advocate of ‘contestability’ and outsourcing. Her review found that outsourcing led to an average 10-30% savings and ‘no apparent decline in the quality of provision.’ Try telling that to service users and workers in adult social care!

It’s no use Labour demonising Tory adviser Lynton Crosby simply for short term political gain. A 2008 interview in Total Politics reveals his stock-in-trade, like Julius, as the worst type of lobbyist for ‘corporate campaigns aimed at changing decision maker, consumer, shareholder or media attitudes and behaviour.’

Between 1997 and 2010, the Blair and Brown Labour Government’s were far too susceptible to such corporate influence. It was the Capitas and the Sercos which called the shots on public service reform rather than the affiliated unions – Blair’s supercilious ‘scars on his back’ reference to union opposition proved to be tongue in cheek given the subsequent large scale incursion of private corporations into the delivery of public services on his and his successor's watch.

The next general election will be make or break for public services in the UK. Public service unions have a massive responsibility to expose the inadequacies of private sector delivery and persuade Labour to abandon outsourcing as a preferred policy of government.