Poll shows public want new legal rights over privatisation

Half of all respondents think there is too much outsourcing to the private sector


New polling has shown that the majority of people would like to see new laws on transparency and accountability in public service contracts. In addition, most people do not support the current trend (£) towards outsourcing of public services to the private sector.

The polling, carried out by Survation for campaign group We Own It found that 68 per cent of respondents believe the public should have a legal right to be consulted and given access to information on the outsourcing of public services. This belief was particularly strong among Labour and UKIP voters.

Half of all respondents are against the current outsourcing trend and would like to see more public services continuing to run in-house. Only 22 per cent of respondents – less than a quarter – would like to see more outsourcing of public services 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 last week that the NHS had agreed to the ‘biggest-ever privatisation’ of its services  in an attempt to deal with the growing backlog of patients waiting for surgery and tests in UK hospitals. This has given 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 that the public would have been consulted over this decision, and the option of keeping the services in-house would be considered. Furthermore the public would have access to information about the contracts and performance as well as relevant financial data.

Meanwhile, a report by the TUC out earlier this month has shown that outsourcing to the private sector is having a negative impact on service users and staff. For example, it found evidence for a higher incidence of hospital infections following the outsourcing of cleaning to private companies, and that private prisons are more likely to be overcrowded.

In line with public opinion Early Day Motion 438 in support of the Public Service Users Bill has had cross-party support and been signed by nearly 100 MPs. This week We Own It is launching a list of ‘champions for public service users’ who support the Bill on its website.

Ruby Stockham is a staff writer at Left Foot Forward. Follow her on Twitter

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