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
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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.