Public Ownership and Provision

The European Services Strategy Unit (previously the Centre for Public Services and Services to Community Action and Trade Unions) have consistently made the case for alternative policies in providing strategic advice to community organisations, trade unions and public bodies. It is reflected in the reports and strategies advocated with these organisations. We have consistently believed that financialisation, marketisation and privatisation must be challenged by a combination of critical analysis and alternative policies and strategies. This approach led to highly successful campaigns in Newcastle upon Tyne, Manchester, London, Birmingham, Oxford, Bury, Salford, Manchester, Bedfordshire, South Tyneside, Northamptonshire, Kent and other locations, and in the impact of national research.

  • Public Alternative to the Privatisation of Life

    Public Alternative to the Privatisation of Life sets out a radical agenda for decommodification, public ownership and provision, re-municipalisation, reconstructing democracy, radical public management, public investment and strategic action. It explains the drivers of financialisation, marketisation, individualisation and privatisation and sets out a political economy framework of privatisation. It details the corporate extraction of profits, impact on the quality of services, the erosion of democratic accountability and transparency, increased inequalities and the reduced capability of public authorities.

    Much of the evidence is from the UK and Europe, US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, together with Asia, Africa and Latin America which have experienced significant levels and forms of privatisation, and where financial capital and transational companies ruthlessly acquire privatised assets

    1. Privatisation, automation and mega-cities
    2. The political economy of privatisation
    3. Drivers of new opportunities for capital accumulation
    4. Financialising economies and public services
    5. Marketisation of public services, climate and nature
    6. Individualising marketisation and privatisation
    7. Privatisation by sale, stealth and mutation
    8. The business of extracting profits from public assets
    9. Public infrastructure and PPPs
    10. Poor quality of privatised services
    11. Privatisation increases inequalities
    12. Impact on jobs, pay, pensions and conditions
    13. High public cost of privatisation
    14. Democratisation for accountability and participation
    15. Decommodification, public ownership and provision
    16. Radical public management
    17. Financing public investment and services
    18. Strategic action   
    A. Public Service innovation & improvement Plan
      B. Public - Private Structural Differences
      C. Public - Private Structural Differences

    580 pages Buy directly from Spokesman Books - paperback and eBook/PDF format

    Amazon Kindle version now available on all Amazon sites (Paperback Edition available from either 1 January or the 20 January 2020 - see News Update for details.

  • Nationalising Special Purpose Vehicles to end PFI: A discussion of the costs and benefits

    The paper by Dr Helen Mercer and Professor Dexter Whitfield is available via the Public Services International Research Unit, University of Greenwich.


    The article’s principal purpose is to provide an initial set of
    costings relating to the proposal to end PFIs in the UK through
    nationalising the Special Purpose Vehicles. The article uses book value
    to estimate that the cost of compensating the shareholders of the SPVs
    on HM Treasury database would be between £2.3bn and £2.5bn. It further
    analyse the potential savings to public authorities. The article
    proposes that service contracts are renegotiated so that the public
    authorities contract directly with the providers, not via the SPV. This
    secures significant annual savings from the elimination of operating
    profits, of £1.4bn, indicating that nationalisation will pay for itself
    within two years. Further the article proposes to honour all outstanding
    liabilities but to secure substantial refinancing through a new body in
    which ownership of the SPVs will be vested.

    Finally the article suggests that as service contracts are ended,
    either through break clauses or other reasons, the public authorities
    must bring provision ‘in-house’, ending outsourcing and also providing
    further savings from more rational and integrated provision. The
    approach has been developed on the basis of significant research into
    how PFIs operate and consideration of the range of alternative solutions
    to the PFI problem that have been put forward so far. These issues are
    also explained and developed in the article.

    Third edition, May 2019, including appendix 2 with comments on CHPI’s revised paper and Appendix 3 with comments on CHPI paper.

  • Private Finance Initiative: nationalise Special Purpose Vehicles

    A radical proposal by the People vs Barts PFI campaign which has been researching and discussing ‘what to do about PFI’ for several years. The paper explains what SPVs are, how SPVs spin off private profit from public assets and proposes a mechanism for nationalising the SPVs. Proposals to strengthen the public design, project management and ‘intelligent client’ functions be strengthened in non-PFI public sector construction projects and problems with the proposal to centralise the debt are detailed in two appendices. A proposal to centralise and reduce PFI obligations contained in Part 4 of the NHS Reinstatement Bill are also examined.

  • A New Vision for Local Government

    This vision was developed in 2002 is response to radical proposals by Milton Keynes Council and Northamptonshire County Council for a joint strategic partnership for a large range of corporate and support services. The report was in two parts. The first 'Our Vision' set out public services and principles, increasing the capacity of local government, high quality services with continuous improvement, enhancing equalities and social justice and community well-being.

    The second part was a critique of partnership by privatisation which exposed the strategic partnership agenda and the virtual council, the private track record and impact on the local and regional economy. The Centre for Public Services worked with two UNISON branches to produce the alternative plan, provided the branches with an assessment of the two bids from Amey and Hyder, made a presentation to Milton Keynes Council and met with elected members in Northamptonshire. The partnership project was eventually abandoned, although Milton Keynes proceeded to establish a PPP Strategic Partnership with HBS with a smaller range of services.

  • Reconstructing Public Services

    Chapter 6 from In Place of Austerity: Restructuring the economy, state and public services, Dexter Whitfield, Spokesman Books, 2014

  • The Case for Public Services

    In-house provision of public services is both advantageous and essential and makes a substantial contribution to community wellbeing, liveability, sustainable development and social justice. The case is made under the following headings: improving community well-being, democratic accountability, equalities and social justice sustainable development, protecting the public interest, financial advantages, corporate policies, better quality employment and improved capacity.