Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Link to this page:

From The Socialist newspaper, 2 July 2008

Fight Labour's welfare privatisation

JAMES PURNELL, secretary of state for the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), has announced that he intends to let private sector companies cherry pick whatever DWP services they wanted to provide. Contractors, who already eat up half the budget of Job Centre Plus (JCP), will no longer have to wait for the government to decide which services are put out to tender.

Dave Reid

Under new government proposals they can knock on the government's door and bid for any services they want. Obviously they will bid for the easier services that can make them the most money and leave more challenging services to what is left of the civil service.

Shortly after Purnell's announcement, about 70 trade unionists, civil servants, academics and voluntary sector representatives met at Cardiff university to hear presentations on the government's welfare reform proposals, including one by Stephen Timms, minister for employment and welfare.

Every contributor bar one questioned or condemned these government 'reforms' and their likely effects. Unfortunately the exception was Stephen Timms who intends to implement them regardless of evidence that they will not work.

Timms repeated New Labour mantras about private sector "flexibility", "specialisation" and "competitiveness". He claimed that JCP staff cannot innovate or be flexible enough to tailor different solutions to different parts of the country. Actually no-one is better than the hard-working Job Centre staff at doing the things the government says it wants to achieve.

What is inflexible and unwilling to change is the government and JCP management. In the debate, Timms extolled the virtues of Pathways, a private provider in Newport, because their flexibility allegedly helped a claimant who said that, unlike the JCP, their first question was "would you like a cup of coffee?"

"That is the kind of transformation we want the welfare system to bring" Timms said. But John Walters, a PCS rep from Port Talbot, pointed out that JCP staff were forbidden by DWP management from allowing hot drinks on their desk!

PCS union general secretary Mark Serwotka said the experience of private sector involvement in welfare provision over six to eight years had already uncovered fraud, corruption and falsification of records. Some private contractors had walked away from their contracts or gone bankrupt.

Many claimants felt they were forced into any old job to get them off benefits so the private contractor would be paid rather than providing long term work for the claimant.

The government is doing this not because the private and voluntary sectors are more efficient but to try to reduce the public sector. Already 30,000 jobs have been lost in the DWP. Some DWP workers were told their jobs were surplus to requirement three weeks after winning a public servants of the year award.

With all its queues and faults, Mark said, when a person went into a Job Centre in the past the Job Centre staff's job was to help them to access a whole range of services and benefits regardless of what they came in for. Now one of DWP management's main aims at Job Centre Plus (JCP) is to reduce "footfall" - to get rid of people and tell them to go or phone somewhere else.

Steve Davies, senior research fellow at Cardiff university, said there is no evidence that private sector provision of DWP services has been more efficient than by the public sector. In fact the whole private-sector process is inefficient. Markets have to be created in welfare provision and the market has to be "incentivised", i.e. made worthwhile for private providers to enter the market. Already private contractors provide about a third of welfare provision.

The "third sector", the voluntary sector, is used as a Trojan horse by the private sector to open up opportunities for privatisation. The director of public services at bosses' association the CBI said the voluntary sector was its "weapon of choice for those engaged in the continuing battle over public sector reform". Charities and voluntary organisations will be transformed into private companies by having to compete against private companies for public sector contracts.

A government-commissioned study concluded that the cost effectiveness of private providers and JCP was the same. In the Action Teams for Jobs, the private sector providers met 78% of their job entry targets while the JCP teams met 140% of their targets. Yet the government wants to expand private sector provision. A campaign is needed to stop them.

Why not click here to join the Socialist Party, or click here to donate to the Socialist Party.

In The Socialist 2 July 2008:

Hands off our NHS!

Feature: 60 years of the NHS

Socialist Party campaigns

Local government strike action: Workers say: 'enough is enough!'

Fight Labour's welfare privatisation

91% of pay deals are below inflation

Workers united against pay freeze

Socialist Party news and analysis

Education - class segregation grows

Boris Johnson reveals his real policies

Royals down to their last crown?

Union support for demo to stop BNP 'festival'

National Shop Stewards Network

National Shop Stewards Network: Rebuilding trade union strength

Campaign for a New Workers Party

Campaign for a New Workers' Party


Obituary: Terry Fields

Socialist Party LGBT

LGBT London Pride: No to homophobia

International socialist news and analysis

Mugabe clique tightens its grip on Zimbabwe

Big oil returns to Iraq

Poland: Thousands join 'hands off the Labour Code' demo

Socialist Party workplace news

PCS shows action gets results

Visteon workers win 5%

For a fighting, democratic Usdaw

Tube cleaners in pay strike

Victory for Belfast Airport shop stewards

East London street cleaners fight privatised employer


Home   |   The Socialist 2 July 2008   |   Join the Socialist Party

Subscribe   |   Donate  

Related links:


triangleYoung people being strangled by debts

triangleMajor attacks 'Universal Credit', half a million more face poverty

triangleFight expansion of disastrous 'Universal Credit' welfare system

triangle"Austerity hurts and the only alternative is socialism"

triangleThousands left with 50p for rent - cap rents, not benefits


triangleNasty party out the Tories

triangleCWU fights court attempt to stop national strike

triangleNHS meltdown - fight the Tory cuts

triangleHousing crisis: Corbyn's positive measures blanked by Labour's right


triangleSheffield Labour council threatens peaceful protesters with prison

triangleHundreds turn out for rally aimed at removing west Wales Tory MP

triangleTories torn - bin them now


triangleUN slams Tories for disabled rights ruin

trianglePCS: strikes to defend jobcentres

Public sector:

triangleConference on state spies: who's watching who?

Mark Serwotka:

triangleEscalate summer strike wave into coordinated action to defeat the pay cap

Reports and campaigns

Reports and campaigns


North West

Arriva North West bus drivers strike over pay


Democratic rights

Conference on state spies: who's watching who?



Striking back against sackers' charter at Leeds Uni


Royal Mail

Royal Mail bosses block strike - back postal workers



Balloting members on the pay cap



'Dazzling' Bad Art show points to socialist future



Sheffield Labour council threatens peaceful protesters with prison


South West Wales

Hundreds turn out for rally aimed at removing west Wales Tory MP



Uprising to save the NHS!



Can you donate to the Socialism 2017 appeal?


East London

No cuts - hands off King George A&E!


North London

North London hospital workers fight cuts and job losses



Nationalise to save jobs at BAE Systems



Schools "can't go any further" - stop the cuts: set deficit budgets now



Socialist Students 'welcome' Hillary Clinton to Swansea

triangleMore Reports and campaigns articles...

Join the Socialist Party
Subscribe to Socialist Party publications
Donate to the Socialist Party

triangle19 Oct Arriva North West bus drivers strike over pay

triangle18 Oct Russia, October 1917: When workers took power

triangle18 Oct Tories torn - bin them now

triangle18 Oct Royal Mail bosses block strike - back postal workers

triangle18 Oct Balloting members on the pay cap

triangle13 Oct The end of the Tories?

triangle11 Oct Nasty party out the Tories

More ...

triangle23 Oct Chesterfield Socialist Party: The continuing struggle for abortion rights

triangle24 Oct Liverpool Socialist Party: The October Russian Revolution 100 years ago to the day

triangle25 Oct Salford Socialist Party: The October 1917 Russian revolution

triangle25 Oct Swansea Socialist Party: Mother Jones - A US labour pioneer

More ...

Socialist Party Facebook page
Socialist Party on Twitter
Visit us on Youtube



October 2017

September 2017

August 2017

July 2017

June 2017

May 2017

April 2017

March 2017

February 2017

January 2017





















Platform setting: = No platform choice