Celebrating 50 years of SCAT, CPS and ESSU

1 June 1973 – 2023
We have produced a concise summary of the strategies, alternatives and support to tenants and resident’s groups, community campaigns, trade unions and public sector organisations taking action to improve the public infrastructure and public services. The report covers:

  • Objectives, working practices and funding
  • Major challenges and projects
  • Significant changes in the political economy since 1973
  • Opposition to the sale or transfer of Council Housing to tenants, housing associations or arms-length companies
  • Action to retain and improve public services
  • Equal Opportunity impacts
  • North West Regional analysis
  • Health and Social Care Economies
  • Public policy best practice
  • New Labour’s failed PPP Strategic Partnerships for services
  • Critical analysis of Public Private Partnerships for public infrastructure
  • Public transport
  • Public Service Action
  • International projects
  • Website – high level of users and document downloads
  • SCAT, CPS and ESSU staff
  • Organisations we have worked with



New Book: Challenging the rise of Corporate Power in Renewable Energy

by Dexter Whitfield, adds new dimensions to the climate crisis.

It is an exposé of corporate domination of the renewable energy sector based on an analysis of the global trade buying and selling onshore/offshore wind farms, solar parks, battery storage and other projects. It includes strategies for a democratic public future for renewable energy, protection of the built environment, nature and biodiversity.

Contents – Crisis and opportunities – Corporate domination – Trading renewable energy assets – Tax havens and market interventions – Public ownership and public values – Wide use of PPPs for renewable energy projects in emerging economies – The commodification and marketisation of nature and biodiversity – Equalities economic, social and environmental justice – Economic and industrial strategies – Strategic opportunities.

The book details strategic opportunities for public ownership and industrial and economic development with the decarbonisation of manufacturing, construction and public transport; retrofitting of housing, public buildings and business premises; adaptation and environmental protection;

Paperback £18.00, ePub £10.00 available from Spokesman Books – https://spokesmanbooks.org/

Further information:

Books and articles by Dexter Whitfield

Public Ownership and Provision which includes access to the ESSU Global Renewable Energy Secondary Market Database 2019-2021, 3 additional Tables and a Glossary of Renewable Energy terms.

Community Action Magazine 1972-1990 Digital Access

Published from 1972-1990, Community Action (CA) magazine documents a range of community-led activism and campaigning in and around the built environment, primarily in the United Kingdom. Founded by a group of radical planners who had grown disillusioned with the exclusionary and conservative nature of contemporary practice, the magazine sought to connect grassroots initiatives around the country, increasing their political purchase at a time of significant social and economic upheaval. The activity covered includes but is not limited to: opposition to slum clearance and urban motorways; tenant organising; alternative plans; advice centres; the women’s movement; workplace activism; disability rights and community transport. Archived here in its entirety, the magazine provides fascinating insight into the role and nature of oppositional community action, as the paternalistic post-war settlement disintegrated, giving way to the privatisations and reactionary individualism of the 1980s.


Many thanks to Peoplesplans.org and Sheffield University Department for Urban Studies and Planning

Barnet UNISON launch “We are Barnet” – Pay like Barnet!

Barnet UNISON has published its Pay and Conditions Claim 2021 report to The Barnet Group (TBG), the London Borough of Barnet’s arms length company which delivers housing, physical and learning disability, residential and social care and other services. It had 300 employees in 2012 which increased to 1,150 by 2020.

The report details the employment policies and exposes the corporate operations of TBG and its five subsidiaries in the 2012-2020 period.

Between three and six TBG executive directors received a total of £3,843,000 in salaries between 2012-2019, plus £259,000 in performance bonuses, £32,000 as honoraria, plus £465,000 paid into their pension scheme. “Where is the justice in executive directors of The Barnet Group sharing £259,000 performance bonuses between 2012 and 2020 when frontline workers got nothing?” A Barnet Group worker

The total salaries of Executive Directors increased 11.8% between 2019 and 2020. Meanwhile, many staff did not get a pay rise for eight years and are barred from the Local Government Pension Scheme and instead offered a very inferior scheme.

“I have rarely discovered such a deeply embedded scale of inequalities and exploitation in a local authority arms-length company. This a damning indictment on the London Borough of Barnet who have colluded with this model for nearly a decade.” Dexter Whitfield, Director, European Services Strategy Unit.

see publications for more details of the report

626 transactions in global renewable energy secondary market in 20 months in 2019-2020 cost US$289bn

The growing renewable energy secondary market reflects the extent to which the sector has become financialised, marketised and privatised. The secondary market provides a mechanism for investors to extract profit at the development or operational stages of renewable energy projects.

Detailed evidence of the global scale and scope of this market is set out in The Financialisation, Marketisation and Privatisation of Renewable Energy, ESSU Report No. 12 and a companion database which provides information on the 626 transactions between January 2019 and August 2020. Renewable energy electricity generation is largely in the control of finance capital and market forces so, that by 2050, generation, distribution and supply could be substantially owned and controlled by the private sector.

The public policy agenda must change from general demands for climate action and targets to those that focus on how the targets are going to be met and to rapidly increase public provision of power generation. The report sets out proposals to significantly increase public ownership and operation of renewable energy projects and to increase the scope and powers of regulatory frameworks.

The case aganst a secondary market in renewable energy assets and ten key strategies for public ownership are set out in the Public Ownership and Provison section of the website.

See new database covering 1,622 transactions in the 2019-2021 period plus detailed analysis in Challenging the Rise of Corporate Power in Renewable Energy book published 2023. See https://www.european-services-strategy.org.uk/public-ownership

Why Barnet’s Education and Skills must be an in-house service

“Barnet Council’s draft Equality Impact Assessment is fundamentally inadequate because it does not assess the impact of the two options on the equality groups and assumes no negative impact. But there is a world of difference in terms and conditions, particularly pensions, between being transferred to the Council and being transferred to a Local Authority Controlled Company which currently does not exist and will be modelled on other Council arms length companies that have inferior terms and conditions. Therefore the Equality Impact Assessment must be rewritten.”

Dexter Whitfield

“Why, why, why are Barnet Council making this crisis worse? The contractor is dumping the contract through no fault of the staff. All the staff want hear from Barnet Council are these two little words “Welcome Back”. The evidence for returning the hard working Education and Skills workforce is contained within the Joint Trade Union report written By Dexter Whitfield.”

John Burgess Branch Secretary, Barnet UNISON.

It is clear that the best option is for Education and Skills to return the council.   Employment will be less attractive with an LACC resulting in it being harder to recruit and retain the experienced staff required and this can only mean an inferior service for schools and the young people of Barnet.

Keith Nason, Secretary Barnet NEU.

“The comparison of key criteria in this report makes it clear to the advantages of an in-house option and I encourage GMB members’ to read this detailed report.

Outsourcing has been bad news for Barnet staff. Time and time again, we have seen private providers fail to deliver while members’ terms and conditions and national agreements have been undermined.

GMB are clear that it is better value for services such as this to be brought back in-house.”

Mary Goodson, GMB Barnet Branch Secretary & Krissy O’Hagan, GMB London Region Organiser.

The following Trade Unions representing workers from Cambridge Education have worked together with their members and Dexter Whitfield to produce a report to Barnet Council.

  • NEU
  • GMB
  • Association of Educational Psychologists (AEP)

Summary of the report

The two options of in-house provision or establishing new Local Authority Controlled Company (LACC) are examined using 12 key criteria (see Table 1) with in-house provision having significant advantages over the latter.

1.The Council’s draft Equalities Impact Assessment is significantly flawed because it concludes there is ‘No Impact’ for any of the equality groups when in fact there is a Positive Impact for all equality groups with the in-house option but a Major Negative Impact for all equality groups with the LACC option.

2. We have examined the ability of Education and Skills to retain and recruit qualified and experienced staff and conclude that the continuity of service and quality of pension schemes are fundamentally important. The LACC option fails on both these criteria.

3. A sustainable motivated workforce to provide the range and quality of services required by schools, parents and children for their physical and mental health is dependent on the retention of the existing staff and the recruitment of new qualified and experienced staff is critically important to ensure high quality services for Barnet Schools.

4. A divided, demoralised workforce as a result of a differential in terms and conditions combined with an inability to retain and recruit qualified staff is inherent in the LACC model and will have a long lasting negative impact in education and the community.

5. The Council has failed to prepare a full Equality Impact Assessment for the consultation process.

6. The Council has stated that the Equality Impact Assessment and the full business case will only be completed after the consultation feedback deadline of 4pm 3 July 2020. This contradicts Government policy set out in the Green Book, and ignores over a decade of established custom and practice in Barnet and is likely to fail to take full account of key and other unforeseen emerging issues.

7. The multinational Mott MacDonald’s use of the Force Majeure contract clause raises many questions given that Barnet’s Education and Skills contract represented just 0.23% of the company’s £771m annual turnover in 2019. The fact that all local authorities with education responsibilities, teachers and parents are confronted by the same impact of COVID-19 raises questions over the real motives of this decision.


1. We strongly recommend that Barnet Council transfers Education and Skills staff from Cambridge Education back to direct employment in the Council.

2. We recommend that the contract management functions of the ISS catering contract, which is going to be novated to the Council, are established in the Education Department.

Download the full report https://www.european-services-strategy.org.uk/why-barnets-education-and-skills-must-be-an-in-house-service

Dexter Whitfield: How to create a public alternative to the privatization of life

He argues that public ownership and re-municipalisation alone are insufficient to combat the culture of neoliberalism in our society in an article in advance of the Edinburgh book launch.

A book launch for ‘Public Alternative to the Privatisation of Life’ chaired by Common Weal director Robin McAlpine, organised by Jubilee Scotland, will be held on 28 January 2020, 3.30pm – 5.00pm at the Augustine United Church, 41 George IV Bridge, Edinburgh. Attendance is free, but those interested at encouraged to book via Eventbrite.

The event was very successful with nearly 40 people engaging in discussion about the key strategies raised in the book and recent/current struggles in Edinburgh. Many thanks to Jubilee Scotland and Robin McAlpine.

Now published: Public Alternative to the Privatisation of Life

Public Alternative to the Privatisation of Life
provides comprehensive evidence of the failure of privatization and the economic, social and environmental damage to people’s lives, working conditions and undermining of equalities.
It details radical strategies for decommodification
for a new era of public ownership and provision
with participative and democratic accountability, quality public services, the preservation of nature
and sustainable climate action.

One of the most detailed examinations of the failures of privatisation and neo-liberalism – a book that delivers both incisive critique and an alternative vision.”  Professor John Spoehr, Pro Vice-Chancellor – Research Impact and Director of the Australian Industrial Transformation Institute, Flinders University, Adelaide.

“Dexter Whitfield shows how privatisation damages our public services, increases inequality, undermines public pensions or exacerbates the climate crisis – a highly topical and well-researched book. And most importantly, it shows how things can be done differently.”  Laura Valentukeviciute and Carl Waßmuth, Gemeingut in BürgerInnenhand, Germany.

At a time when there is a growing consensus that free-market fundamentalism needs to be abandoned, Dexter Whitfield sets out how public services can be delivered using different models and for the benefit of all.”  Stewart Smyth, PhD. Director, The Centre for Research into Accounting and Finance in Context (CRAFiC), Sheffield University Management School.

“I strongly recommend this book. His attention to detail is critical to an understanding about the long-term damage of marketisation and provides a clear warning about not adopting ‘ill-thought out approaches’ that could leave public services open to future attacks from privatisation.”  John Burgess, Barnet UNISON Branch Secretary, London.

“For Trade Unionists, Community Activists, Progressive Politicians. This book provides the research, analysis and strategy for resisting privatisation whilst demanding reform and renaissance in Public Services.”  Richard Whyte, Regional Officer, Unite, Scotland.

Further details in Public Ownership and Provision section

HICL Infrastructure to relocate to UK from Guernsey

HICL Infrastructure Company Limited has announced that it would be in the best interests of both the Company and its shareholders as a whole to change the domicile and tax residency of HICL’s investment business to the UK through the creation of a new UK incorporated company whose shares would be listed on the UKLA’s Official List and admitted to the main market of the London Stock Exchange to which all of the Company’s assets would be transferred” (Regulated News Service, 21 November 2018).

The change is expected to be effective from 31 March 2019 or shortly after.

Terminate the Capita Contracts and Redesign the Council

A demand to terminate Barnet Council’s Capita Contracts and Redesign the Council has been made by Barnet UNISON.

Barnet Council plans to carry out a review of three options – either to maintain the status quo, return some services in-house or to terminate both the back-office services and regeneration contracts and return to in-house provision. However, the Branch are convinced that Capita’s contract performance failures warrant immediate termination of both contracts which makes a review pointless. This should be accompanied by a redesign of the Council to integrate services and abolish commissioning; service planning with users and staff participation; social, economic, equality, environmental impact assessment and rebuilding the capability and capacity of the Council.

Further Internal Audit evidence is provided of Capita’s continuing poor performance and its failure to fully implement the Adult Social Care IT system which now has to be replaced.

See earlier report in 2018 on How the London Borough of Barnet was stopped from becoming the capital of outsourcing and privatisation.