11 March 2016

Tories "cannot outsource" their failures

The Blog


Pointing out a deterioration in Britain to "second-rate public services", the Labour Party's Shadow Minister for the Cabinet Office said outsourcing and privatization can't change the fact Chancellor George Osborne is culpable.


Shadow Cabinet Office head Tom Watson (also Deputy Leader of the Labour Party) made the comment after the government announced it would review contracts with private company ATOS. Any review of contracts is meant to suggest ATOS is to blame for problems, rather than the government being to blame for foolishly awarding the contracts in the first place.

The penchant for privatization is shared by both Blairite anti-Corbyn policy advocates in the Labour Party, and the incumbent Conservative government. The free market forces embraced by such ideologues, however, have no bearing on whether companies awarded with government contracts are able to do their job effectively. In fact, once awarded with a government contract, private companies like G4S and ATOS are convinced that they are now safe to act as parasites, draining public money, escaping oversight, and no longer even having to compete with other companies.

Possibly worse, outsourcing Civil Service work to private organizations flagrantly violates the intentions of the Civil Service Code by delegating work to people who simply do not have to abide by that Code - something Tom Watson hints at when he says "until private providers of taxpayer-funded services are subject to the same transparency and accountability rules as their public counterparts, whatever steps the Cabinet Office takes to improve services are bound to fail".

Many of the organizations awarded with government contracts (especially G4S) have not only performed badly and failed to live up to the standards of government workers but have their own record of impunity, violations of human rights, and callous treatment of vulnerable people including the disabled. Nevertheless, they are left in charge of their own oversight and free from any intervention by real government officials.


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