Outsourcing

This article was provided by Philip Hardstone.

Outsourcing was the brainchild of Margaret Thatcher’s government, which introduced compulsory competitive tendering in the early 1980s. The government viewed this policy, which forced local authorities to open up in-house services such as cleaning, catering and maintenance to private competitors, as a way to neuter strikes, downsize council and NHS workforces, and ultimately cut costs.

Let’s be clear: the money we spend on our public services is not equivalent to other spending decisions we make. Of course, price and quality are important, but public services exist to serve citizens, not consumers. They embody vital public values, including democracy and a shared sense of the common good.

Our public services should never have become a gravy train for highly paid consultants and shareholders who are more interested in dividend returns than the needs of people and communities. Yet here we are: with a small number of large firms dominating this market and delivering high returns for their investors while driving down the quality of the services they’re paid to provide.

Policies that Labour decided to follow.

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