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Posts Tagged ‘Privatisation

Ipswich Protest Against Probation Service Privatisation.

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Thursday Lower Brook Street Ipswich. (Photo JB)

Members of the National Association of Probation Officers are joined by trade unionists and supporters of the Suffolk People’s Assembly.

Probation workers across the eastern region have taken to the streets today in protest at the government’s decision to privatise the service.

Across the country members of union Unison, along with colleagues from the GMB and National Association of Probation Officers (NAPO), held their joint protest to coincide with advertisements being placed by the Ministry of Justice in OJEU – the Official Journal of the European Union – inviting private sector bids.

Norfolk and Suffolk Probation Trust workers outside the offices in Palace Plain, Norwich said privatisation would axe services designed to keep communities safe, as well as introduce potentially dangerous cost cutting measures in the relentless pursuit of profit.

They also warned that among the list of likely bidders were Serco and G4S, both currently under investigation for alleged fraud in the running of previous MoJ contracts. EDP 24

Thousands of probation workers will join nationwide protests today to claim that public safety will be jeopardised by the Government’s plans to transfer the community supervision of most former offenders to private companies.

Chris Grayling, the Justice Secretary, is to signal his determination to push ahead with the £800m privatisation of the bulk of the National Probation Service, which traces its roots back to 1907. He will publish advertisements today inviting bids to take over around three-quarters of the service’s current workload.

Under the moves, the 35 existing regional probation trusts will be replaced by 21 government companies which will tender out the work of supervising more than 200,000 offenders each year considered to present low or medium risk. Those regarded as high risk will continue to be monitored by a slimmed-down national probation service.

Ministers insist their plans are essential to drive up standards in probation and to reduce reoffending levels. Six out of 10 people who leave prison are reconvicted within two years.

Potential bidders include such firms as G4S and Serco, which are both being investigated over alleged fraud in Ministry of Justice contracts. The sums paid to the successful companies or voluntary-sector organisations will be linked to their success in reducing offending rates.

Independent.

BBC

Bidding has begun for probation service contracts worth £450m across England and Wales, the Ministry of Justice has announced.

Payment-by-results contracts are to be split between private companies and charities in 20 English regions and one Welsh region, officials said.

They will supervise 225,000 low and medium-risk offenders each year.

Senior probation officers have condemned the plans as “a disgrace and total failure”.

The competition will continue through 2014, with contracts awarded by 2015.

Under a system of 21 contracts, the voluntary groups, charities and private companies will only be paid in full if a certain proportion of offenders do not commit further crimes.

Written by Andrew Coates

September 19, 2013 at 4:16 pm

Suffolk Libraries: New Problems for Privatised ‘Co-op’.

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http://www.eadt.co.uk/polopoly_fs/aa_011_tuc_library_demo_6_1_775853!image/3489905185.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_630/3489905185.jpg

How Right We Were.

The Liberal-Conservative Coalition’s cuts have created problems for library services across the country.

Many places have seen closures, others have tried to use ‘volunteers’ to replace paid staff.

Conservative-run Suffolk County Council adopted  the Industrial and Provident Society, to make savings and keep the libraries open. They transferred publicly owned resources to a ‘co-op’, which is run, not by democratically elected representatives of the public, but by a system based on ‘users groups’ and appointees. Critics allege this is a “privatised Charity”. That it has created an oligarchy in place of a service responsible to democratically elected Councillors.

These are expected to introduce cuts and raise a percentage (initially up to 5%, now down to an – unknown – figure)  of the libraries’ funding from groups in each library. In prosperous parts of the County some groups, inspried perhaps by the ‘Big Society’ and ‘localism’ have taken over part of the day-to-day running.

In the process the ‘nasty party’ has not gone away.

All Suffolk Libraries  face a crisis in funding and staffing, and their Internet service is collapsing, as this letter demonstrates.

The Suffolk Coalition for Public Services and Ipswich & District Trades Council would like to express serious concerns about Suffolk Libraries  Industrial and Provident Society (IPS).

The Evening Star (20th September) has brought to public attention concern about staffing shortages and day-closures because of a lack of cover in Ipswich Libraries.

A worker is cited saying that service is ” close to breaking point”.

This has become even more evident since the Star article appeared.

Users comment that:

  • The lift in the Central Library (Northgate Street) has been out of order for some months now though we now understand it has been repaired. This denied access to services on the first and second floors to the disabled and others.
  • The Internet, one of the most important Library services, is deteriorating daily. The Browser needs updating, and as a result there is constant “buffering”. Many sites cannot be properly accessed, including Facebook, E-Mail and information sites. *
  • Books have been given the wrong bar-codes, or simply not been registered on the new system.
  • There are concerns that the level of staffing is not adequate to cope with daily  public demand.
Cuts are planned, and will no doubt further affect the Libraries’ services.Behind this there is a lack of transparency about the way the Industrial and Provident Society is run, and to whom it is accountable.The issue of how local groups are organised and how they will raise the money the County Council says they will have to provide for each library has yet to be resolved.We would like to say that the transfer of a democratically-run publicly-owned service to a private charitable organisation is not proving a success.We continue to oppose any cuts in library funding.

Teresa MacKay

Secretary

Ipswich & District Trades Union Council

* We note that the system is so poor that it casts serious doubts on how anybody who wishes to apply for benefits and other essential government services will be able to use it. The government intends to make it compulsory for anybody wishing to get Universal Credit (low paid, unemployed) to do so via the Net.

I have had to use an Internet Café  to post this.

Written by Andrew Coates

October 4, 2012 at 3:45 pm

Cameron: (Nearly) All State Services to Go into Private Hands.

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Cameron Continues Fight Against Jacobin Centralisation.

A White Paper, due to be published in the next fortnight, will set out an automatic right for private sector bodies to bid for public work.

Decision-making power will be given back to professionals – who have in the past been hampered by red tape – while people will be able to have more control over the budget for the service they receive.

The changes could ultimately see many functions of the NHS – from operations to walk-in triage services – being run by private firms. All schools could be run by charities or private sector companies, as could municipal services such as maintaining parks, adult care, special schools or roads maintenance.

Outside providers would be offered payment-by-results contracts, which would earn them more as they increased the quality of services.

The only exemptions will be the judiciary and the security services. All other public services will be expected to open up to private competition under the plans, which the Government hopes will slash… (More Here.)

David Cameron explains (Here),

That’s why we need a complete change, and that’s what our White Paper will bring. The grip of state control will be released and power will be placed in people’s hands. Professionals will see their discretion restored. There will be more freedom, more choice and more local control. Ours is a vision of open public services – and we will make it happen by advancing some key principles.

The most important is the principle of diversity. We will create a new presumption – backed up by new rights for public service users and a new system of independent adjudication – that public services should be open to a range of providers competing to offer a better service.

Let us leave aside the fact that the only ‘people’ getting their hands on power will be money-grubbing private companies and Lords and Lady Bountifuls. Let us ignore, for the moment, just how inefficient and bureaucratic existing ‘outsourcing’ is – notably in the Unemployment Business.

Let us just reflect on what this ‘decentralisation’ means.

A couple of centuries ago Britain has an endless series of local ‘times’ Each area had its own clock hours. You could leave London at half Noon and,a  few hours later, find yourself at Ipswich around 12.27.*

The Liberal-Tory  kind of decentralisation will make every place have its own ‘time’ for public services. Some will be run according to the rhythm of the rural gentry, some to the order of ‘diverse’ religious charities now running education and social services. Some will speed up, under the rule of mercenary private companies squeezing the last penny from the sick.

Cameron’s plans are the biggest blow to equality and  equal treatment launched in this country since the reaction that followed the ‘anti-Jacobin’ campaigns of the 1790s.

 Ferdinand Mount in a number of writings has laid out the ideological basis of this ‘localism’ – here.

*Okay a bit exaggerated, but not much: see on the standarisation of time: here.

Written by Andrew Coates

February 21, 2011 at 12:44 pm