Union’s own research shows public do not trust private companies to run public services

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UNISON is today calling for an urgent inquiry into privatisation and outsourcing, after a “fundamentally flawed” CBI report claims billions of pounds could be saved by privatising public services.

The union has criticised the report, saying it is based on an assumption that savings of 11% can be made through outsourcing or privatisation – a figure that has been ‘plucked out of the air’ by the CBI. This assumption is then extrapolated and applied to more than £200bn of public spending.

UNISON general secretary Dave Prentis said: “This report is fundamentally flawed. Where is the proof that 11% savings can be achieved by privatising public services? The CBI has plucked this figure from the air. All the evidence shows that privatisation is a costly failure that the taxpayer can ill afford. Only last week MPs felt it necessary to call for a blacklist of firms that have failed to deliver on their contracts.

“Privatisation failures carry heavy human costs – just ask an elderly resident of an ex-Southern Cross home. And, as the G4S Olympic fiasco clearly shows, when the private sector fails, the public sector has to pick up the pieces – including the cost.

“Turkey’s don’t vote for Christmas, and the CBI is hardly going to call for less businesses involvement in public services. But recent polling has revealed that privatisation is deeply unpopular with the public. If the government pushes through with the CBI’s vision it would face the wrath of voters at the ballot box.”

The 11% savings calculation does not take into account the often huge knock-on costs associated with privatisation including procurement, tendering and contract management. It also omits to mention the huge cost to the taxpayer and local people when the private sector fails, or that some public bodies have brought public services back in-house after contracts have failed.

The report also flies in the face of public attitudes to privatisation. Recent polling by ComRes for UNISON reveals a lack of public trust in private companies providing public services. The polling reveals a widespread awareness amongst the public that private companies fail to deliver on their contractual obligations and that privatisation leads to lower quality services.


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