The political economy of social impact bonds

The Political Economy of Private Financed Social Services – an international perspective is the title of a chapter by Dexter Whitfield in a new book Privates Kapital für soziale Dienste? Wirkungsorientiertes Investment und seine Folgen für die Soziale Arbeit edited by Monika Burmester, Emma Dowling & Norbert Wohlfahrt. Further details and an English version of the chapter available https://www.european-services-strategy.org.uk/publications/books-and-articles-by-dexter-whitfield/political-economy-of-private-financed-social-services

Redesign of ESSU website launched

The European Services Strategy Unit is pleased to launch a radical redesign of the website — www.european-services-strategy.org.uk. Many thanks to Chris Croome of Webarchitects Coop (who have hosted and supported the website since 1998) and Mina Nielsen for the redesign. Hopefully the website is easier to navigate and access the large volume of evidence. If you experience any problems, please inform dexter.whitfield@gmail.com.

The the old site has been archived — european-services-strategy.org.uk.archived.website.

Snapshots of the earlier Centre for Public Services website, going back to 1998, are available at the Internet Archive.

PFI/PPP Buyouts, Bailouts, Terminations and Major Problem Contracts

ESSU Research Report No 9, Dexter Whitfield

Details 11 buyouts, 20 terminations and 43 projects with major problems, plus many bailouts, accounting for 28% of PFI/PPP contracts by capital value. The public cost of buyouts, bailouts, terminations and major problem contracts is £27,902m, when combined with the additional cost of private finance, interest rate swaps and higher PFI transaction costs. This could have built 1,520 new secondary schools for 1,975,000 pupils, 64% of 11-17 year old pupils in England. The UK’s 6.8% ratio of buyout and terminated contracts is higher than the 5.4% average of World Bank projects in developing countries for terminated contracts. This ESSU Research Report explains the causes and fundamental flaws in the PFI/PPP model.

Databases of buyouts, terminations and major problem contracts.

Tyne and Wear Metro returns to public provision

On 1 April 2017 the operation of the Tyne and Wear Metro finally returned to public provision. The North East Combined Authority decided not to extend the Deutsche Bahn 7-year operational contract for a further two years because of dissatisfaction with service performance. A new fleet of trains is planned in the next few years, however, the government is insisting on retendering the contract in 2019. RMT General Secretary Mike Cash said “The union is demanding that there is no repeat of the privatisation mistake and that the Metro service is now permanently returned to the public sector – run as a public service in the public interest.” 86% of a ChronicleLive public poll last year voted for the Metro to stay publicly run. An ESSU briefing ‘Not Fit to Run the Metro’ for the Northern TUC, UNISON and UNITE exposed Deutsche Bahn’s track record in Germany in 2009 prior to the contract.

Social Enterprise plans wage cuts, redundancies and service closures

Somerset County Council plans to transfer the Council’s Learning Disabilities Provider Service to a new social enterprise established by Dimensions (UK) Ltd in April 2017. The service has an annual budget of nearly £30m and 1,160 staff. The social enterprise has announced plans to reduce all terms and conditions for the whole workforce, impose immediate redundancies, and to ‘redesign’ services with closures. This brief analysis highlights the risks and potential dire consequences of transferring services to social enterprises and arms length companies.

Maintaining market principles: Government auditors, PPP equity sales and hegemony: Public sector reforms, public private partnerships and whole government accounting

Article by Stewart Smyth and Dexter Whitfield in Accounting Forum journal. The UK’s government auditors, the National Audit office (NAO), play a central role in the accountability relations surrounding government expenditure. Commonly portrayed as being independent, they carry out performance audits assessing value for money. To date the emerging market for PPP equity transactions has attracted little attention. This paper explores that emerging market through a Gramscian framework utilising the concepts of ‘common sense’ and ‘good sense’, focusing on a dialogical analysis of a NAO report.

PFI schools built in Scotland owned by offshore firms

An hour-long BBC television ‘Scotland Investigates’ programme on 22 August revealed evidence by Dexter Whitfield that over 80% of Scotland’s PFI schools are partly or wholly owned in offshore tax havens. The programme investigated the cause of the closure of 17 Edinburgh schools for repairs after construction defaults were found. Equity in this project had been sold 13 times. Part of the interview was on the BBC Television National 6.00pm news and was the lead item on the Scottish News.