We’re sometimes told that while public ownership is a nice idea, it doesn’t work in practice. That’s just one of the myths we’ve been fed by people with an interest in protecting the status quo. In fact, there are countless examples – from the UK and beyond – of cheap, efficient, and forward-thinking services held in public ownership.
A worldwide phenomenon
Lots of the best cases of public ownership are found at a local level. A report we co-published earlier this year found that services like energy and water have been taken into public control in over 800 cities and towns around the world!
The effect of remunicipalisation has been better and cheaper services. It’s also led to greater democracy, by giving people a say in how their services are run.
We’re celebrating public ownership in the UK
While the UK national government continues to push its free-market ideology, there’s a growing sense at a local level that we don’t have to live with the high prices and poor services that privatisation brings. Plenty of local councils have rejected the privatisation dogma and embraced public control. That’s something to get excited about.
Local authorities have been waking up to the simple fact that private companies aren’t meeting people’s needs:
- The Big Six energy firms have left millions of households in fuel poverty – in response, Bristol and Nottingham councils set up their own energy providers.
- Social workers on private agency books have proved expensive and thin on the ground – so Buckinghamshire council expanded its own social work service.
- Private waste collectors have been inflexible and costly – leading Slough Borough Council to bring waste collection services in-house.
These are just a few cases of local authorities turning away from the private sector. A Guardian investigation from last year found that more than a third of local government outsourcing contracts from 2000 to 2007 have since gone back in-house.
Sevenoaks District Council manages to provide every single one of its services in-house. According to the privatisation myth, this should leave it financially crippled – in fact, Sevenoaks is the UK’s only financially self-sufficient council.
We think the great work achieved by these councils should be rewarded. Vote for your favourites and help us spread the word – public ownership is a huge success!