The Public Services IndustryThe provision of services to the public under government contract by the private and third sectors has become a huge industry, receiving over £80 billion of taxpayers' money every year.
Key sectors include facilities management services such as maintenance and cleaning in schools, hospitals and other facilities built using private finance through PFI, Building Schools For the Future or LIFT; computer and related business process services such as payroll and customer contact centres; social care facilities and services for the elderly, children and people with disabilities; clinical healthcare delivered in Independent Sector Treatment Centres; waste management; custodial services; and leisure services.
Powerful players in the industry include banks, infrastructure funds, private equity houses, consultancy firms, multinational corporations, and a new breed of multi-service firms focused on winning government contracts. This industry has spent huge sums of money to create a sympathetic environment for continued privatisation by setting up lobbying organisations, sponsoring research, and recruiting former government ministers and senior civil servants as directors and advisors.
UNISON believes that public services should be delivered by public authorities with directly employed staff and that is what we campaign for. We are concerned that the government's increasing reliance on this industry for delivering essential services has worrying implications for the public as well as the staff who work in public services. UNISON's own research shows that privatisation has gone hand-in-hand with increasing monopoly power; excessive fees and costs; deteriorating service quality; inflexible and unaccountable provision; and growing risks of service failure.
We are campaigning for more scrutiny and regulation of this increasingly powerful "industry". Now that the market has been seen to fail in the finance sector, UNISON is demanding the end of markets for public services.
Documents and LinksThe Rise of the Public Services Industry
The Rise of the Public Services Industry [PDF]
Dave Prentis responds to the DBERR Julius Review
Article in PPP journal