Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/389/4408
Private hands off public services!
"NOTHING IS off limits now and the potential for the private sector is massive," one businessman gloated to the Financial Times. He was talking about New Labour's manifesto commitment to 'outsourcing' our public services to private firms.
An information technology and outsourcing analyst, Kable, says that up to £60 billion worth more of our public services could be in private-sector hands by 2007.
The government is already buying an ever-widening range of services from private suppliers - hospital operations, electronic tagging, IT functions etc. As a big business lobbyist points out, the government spends 42% of Britain's GDP so the public sector is still the biggest purchaser of goods from private firms.
For years New Labour has been outsourcing any new services and selling off much of the rest to private companies like Capita. This firm runs the Criminal Records Bureau, the teachers' pension system and London's Congestion Charge. In 1996 its turnover was £112 million, last year it was £1.3 billion. Total returns for shareholders have averaged 36% a year.
Private firms are also muscling in on the NHS through the Private Finance Initiative (PFI). Between 2000 and 2003, 26% of Labour's new NHS money was spent paying PFI charges for overpriced private-built new hospitals.
Who's made money out of it? Private companies like Carillion who value their PFI schemes at £83 million, a 'healthy' return on a £29 million investment. By selling off investments on the 'secondary market', they've doubled their share price in the last six years. Such parasites will still be sucking our cash from the NHS in 30 years time.
Privatisation schemes and outsourcing are a far more expensive way of providing public services than public ownership.
But Blair is encouraging these parasitic private owners. Big business aims to steal our future - don't let them.
In The Socialist 21 April 2005: