Public support new legal rights over privatisation

16 March 2015


This story has been covered in Local Government News, Public Finance, 24 DashLeft Foot Forward and Labour List.

New polling shows most people want to see new laws on transparency and accountability in public service contracts and don't support the trend towards more outsourcing.

The polling by Survation for campaign group We Own It found that over two thirds of respondents (68%) believe the public should have a legal right to be consulted and given access to information on the outsourcing of public services. This had support across all parties but particularly from Labour and UKIP voters.

Half of all respondents are against the current outsourcing trend and want to see more public services run in-house. This compares to less than a quarter (22%) who think more public services should be outsourced to the private sector.

Cat Hobbs, Director of We Own It, said “Government hands over our public services to private providers under the veil of 'commercial confidentiality' – it's old fashioned and undemocratic. We don't know what's been agreed in our name and with our public money."

"The people affected by public service sell-offs and contracts – whether it's the East Coast line, the National Gallery or local council care services – want to have a say. We need a Public Service Users Bill for transparency and accountability, to put the public interest ahead of vested corporate interests.”

The new polling comes after it was revealed that the ''biggest-ever privatisation' of NHS services has gone ahead, giving 11 profit-making companies £780 million to deliver heart, joint and other types of operations and perform scans, X-rays and other diagnostic tests on patients. A Public Service Users Bill would mean the in-house option would be considered. The public would have been consulted over this decision and would now have access to contracts and performance and financial data.

Outsourcing of public services is having a negative impact on service users, according to a new report by the TUC with research from the New Economics Foundation.

Early Day Motion 438 in support of the Public Service Users Bill has had cross-party support and been signed by nearly 100 MPs. (6) The Cooperative Party includes a call for the Public Service Users Bill in its Agenda for Britain.

Next week We Own It is launching a list of 'champions for public service users' who support the Bill on its website.

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