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From The Socialist newspaper, 29 June 2011

Privatisation

Public money into private firms' hands

Richard Owen

If the government was really interested in saving money, it would address the issue of how much they are being charged for goods and services.

I recently spoke to someone within the Department of Transport and the amount of money being handed to the private sector is staggering.

Within the last year their office spent £5,000 on a garden shed that you can get for a couple of hundred quid; and nearly £1,000 on an air compressor, the type you can buy from any DIY outlet for under £150. To rub salt into the wound it turns out that when it broke they could not fix it as the office had not agreed to a yearly maintenance cover costing another £1,000.

This is on top of the day-to-day costs, for example £110 an hour for a cleaner. The cleaner is on the minimum wage, the rest of the money goes in "admin" charges!

£49.99 went on a pair on safety boots, the same boots you can buy elsewhere for £17; £15 for a box of pens, enough said.

£4 for emergency rain ponchos, the same type you can buy at any festival for £2.50. They cost about 20p each if you order in bulk direct from the manufacturer.

There is a standing joke within the office. The cost of anything to the government will be the real cost of the item trebled and add 50%.

This is a small office in a small department. If this type of overspend is multiplied up to take into account bigger offices and bigger departments, you get some idea of the money private companies are making from the government.

If the government is truly committed to saving public money then they will start by ending these payments to private companies and not by cutting jobs and services.

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