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Mon 21 February 2011

CBI ‘living in a Thatcherite wonderland’ – UNISON response to CBI submission

UNISON, Scotland’s largest union in public services, has criticised a submission by the CBI on the future delivery of public services claiming it is living in a Thatcherite wonderland.

The union says the CBI’s call for private companies to have a ‘right to bid’ to deliver public services would lead to a complex chain of contractual relationships with huge cost implications.

It would also require an army of people to manage it, taking staffing resources away from where they are needed most – delivering frontline services.

In its submission to the Christie Commission – a group established by the Scottish Government to look at the long term pattern of public service delivery in Scotland – the CBI also talks of privatising Scottish Water, a move which would cost the taxpayer far more than keeping it in public hands.

Mike Kirby, UNISON’s Scottish Secretary, said: “Public money is for delivering public services, not lining shareholders’ pockets, and the CBI’s talk of a ‘right to bid’ for public services quite clearly shows they are living in a Thatcherite wonderland.

“The evidence on privatisation, outsourcing and shared services is not that they are cheaper and better run – quite the opposite. We have seen time and time again the huge failures of privatisation; a perfect example is the outsourcing of hospital cleaning which resulted in the number of cleaners being cut in half and hospital infections rising as a result.

“The CBI is merely bowing to the myth that privatisation will deliver savings and improvements while experience shows it breaks up integrated provision, lowers standards and costs the public twice as much.”

ENDS

Notes to editors: Other examples of the massive failures of privatisation are:

1. In November last year, a leaked report revealed that British Telecom was overcharging Liverpool City Council by £10 million a year for outsourced services. The controversial report, conducted by the council itself, criticised what has been regarded as one of the UK’s flagship outsourcing projects. It highlighted that the council could save £23 million a year by cancelling the contract for IT services and a call-centre operation, and taking the work in-house.

2. Last week, it was revealed that two Scottish police forces are considering privatising cells in a bid to save money. Press reports revealed the two forces were in discussions with private security firm G4 Security to provide prison cells. UNISON condemned the plans as “crazy” and claimed it would result in another costly PFI scheme which would be bad value for money for the taxpayer. One of the police forces in England that tried this is Staffordshire. As a result of a freedom of information request from the UNISON police branch, we now know that the service costs three times more than the original cost of the in-house provision.

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