Socialist Worker

After Southern Cross, Tories want to sell off everything

by Patrick Ward
Issue No. 2260

Nearly all public services could be sold off under new Tory plans—just as private care home provider Southern Cross has collapsed.

It comes despite a secret document showing that top civil servants warned the government that public services are worse off in private hands.

Southern Cross collapsed on Monday after its share price crashed. This could devastate the lives of the 31,000 residents in its 752 homes.

But the Tories want to inflict this sort of chaos everywhere.

Schools, hospitals, care homes and nurseries are all to be thrown to the private sector under plans released on Monday.

And those that are sold off will be allowed to fail—without state intervention.

David Cameron introduced the white paper saying that it will “end the state’s monopoly” on public services. Only the armed forces, police and court system will remain untouched.

But in a document obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, civil servants warn that markets are prone to “failure”.

They say that the costs of services under the private sector will spiral—unless unsuccessful ones are scrapped.

The document states that rising costs due to failure of private sector providers “is mitigated if the system allows for provider exit as well as entry... The evidence suggests it is exit which drives efficiency.

“But exit of providers (eg school closure) may be controversial and unpopular and an appropriate failure regime must be designed,” it continues.

So if a service like a school does not make enough profit, it can close without the state stepping in. Unlike the banks, the Tories don’t see public services as worthy of bailouts.

The white paper will also allow local bidding for previously state-run services, and allow service users to “choose” where to go to receive these services.

The document warns that wealthier people will have more “choice” than others—as they have the ability to travel further.

The Tories call it “putting power back into people’s hands”. But it is about putting profits into the hands of private companies and individuals.

This means cost-cutting, low pay and understaffing. The government’s own advice states that “providers will compete on prices but quality will suffer”.

The plans come as Cameron desperately tries to assert his authority after a series of embarrassing U-turns on issues such as NHS privatisation. They show that the Tories will not give up on their plans to slash the services we all rely on.

The plan must be exposed as a service-destroying sham.


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Article information

News
Tue 12 Jul 2011, 17:04 BST
Issue No. 2260
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