It is often claimed that handing over public services to private companies makes them more efficient, responsive and cheaper.
For the last three decades the services upon which we all rely have been gradually sold off to the highest bidder. From the water we drink to our precious National Health Service, almost everything we once owned together has either already been hived off to the private sector or is likely to be so.
Against this backdrop of privatisation, when even the Ordnance Survey Maps and our blood banks are at risk, a new campaign is joining the movement in favour of public ownership.
It seems that despite successive governments’ slavish devotion to privatisation the British public aren’t at all convinced. A poll released today by Survation, and commissioned by We Own It, shows that it’s by no means just the radical left who believe in the public ownership of our services. Four in five people think that there should be an in-house bid when a public service is put out to tender and 60% think that local and national government should run public services in the public sector as the default option.
The fact is that this polling reflects a widespread lack of trust in the private companies who are trying to run our services. People are sick of corners being cut by companies like G4S and firms like Serco putting patients safety at risk.
And while private companies are often failing to provide a decent service a number of publicly owned services are giving us genuine success stories.
The East Coast Mainline, which for years was a failing service run by successive private companies, is now owned by the state and improving customer satisfaction at the same time as paying millions of pounds of premiums into the government coffers. Similarly Scottish Water is publicly owned and doing very well. The water provider supplies 2.4 million households with drinking water while investing heavily in reducing leakage and cutting its operating costs meaning that the average household cost is the lowest in the UK.
Public services should be accountable to the people who use them, good employers for the people who work for them and provide top quality services to the people who need them.
The privatisation-as-usual era is coming to an end. The public is getting increasingly fed up of paying dividends to shareholders while the price of services goes up and the quality goes down. Time after time private companies have proved to be inefficient and expensive while publicly owned services are making a serious comeback.
From today the fightback against privatisation is stepping up a gear. We Own It is campaigning to put people at the heart of public services through a Public Service Users Bill.
You can join the campaign at www.weownit.org.uk @We_OwnIt