15 Feb 2010

Faeces By Any Other Name

Cameron's proposal on Cooperatives run by civil servants provided some metaphoric raised eyebrows today.

How far would this proposal go towards the realistic achievement of local people running local services was my first question.

A brief skirt of Google News Search shows
I am not the first, or the last, to think this.

First and foremost, most public services, district and borough, are so contracted out, or out to tender, or TUPE'd, that you couldn't really call Councils providers of public services in a fullest sense any more.

The Morning Star quotes Osbourne;

create employee-led co-operatives and you can run state services, paid for by the taxpayer

Ol' Boys Networks

In fairness, the local councils are run by the councillors and their public subsidised, monopolising companies in a system of ol' boys networks the Tories should be proud of.

There are a variety of reasons for the vast turning to TUPE transfers in local services. From the huge pension deficits from taking on permanent employees to a hidden culture of monopoly that is protected behind a shield of "public sector" legislation.

Apparently it is not in the public interest to disclose the financial holdings of Councillors, nor their relationship to the "sister companies" nor the profits gained from investment of public sector money.

Sheltered Housing is a perfect example where schemes are run by external companies, but as it is considered Public Sector tender, the owners, profits and subsidies are not revealed under the Freedom of Information Act.

Ultimately, the Tory proposal to establish public services run by the civil servants actually legitimises this behaviour further.

Personally I am seriously unhappy about my council tax being funnelled into the pockets of the rich to run services when they have no idea about my needs and are concerned only with maximum financial incentives.

Privatisation should not be promoted as "cooperative formations" to bemuse the public.

Financial Incentives

However you put the spin on it, financial incentives to quantify services do not and will not work.

Target culture is one of my soap box issues.

Establishing companies run by employees is one thing. But giving them financial incentive to run them does not provide quality services.

In fact, in all levelling of services, all we ever seem to see in the UK is a lowering to the lowest common denominator.

There are horror stories on
Panorama on a weekly basis. Today's programme on Disability Hate Crime is an example where police do not have targets therefore do not attend to crime which does not tick their Performance Manager's boxes.

People in receipt of care where carers are tendered by the lowest priced firm resulting in untrained, juvenile staff who cannot complete the jobs, clients not visited, or not getting the length of visit or service they are entitled to, let alone the "quality of service" they have a reason to expect.

I could go on.

How exactly will proposing our current system of councils change to cooperatives change any of this when staff will still receive the minuscule 25% of their income to serve the public will have to meet targets to guarantee receipt of this?

So much for Cameron's push away from Big Government.

If the Tory party had a commitment to "small government" as the Liberal Democrats do, they would be proposing retaining 75% of the council taxes to District and Borough Councils to provide better quality services, weeding out those who are in it just to line their pockets and focusing on quality not ludicrous financial incentives have no worked in the last 20 years and are not likely to work in the next twenty.

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