The government says it is reducing the scope of the state. Of course, it is doing no such thing. Instead of the public state, run by an independent civil service and accountable (in theory) to the electorate, the government is creating a private state.
To see just how far it is going, take a look at The Shadow State, a new report on privatisation and outsourcing of public services and assets by the organisation Social Enterprise UK. The shadow state strips out Britain’s public sector wealth and assets and places them in the control of multinational companies that operate outside of all democratic accountability.
A recent example is the London Borough of Barnet, which has transferred assets and services worth over £750 million to a private company, Capita. A second tranche of contracts worth a further £275 million due to go out in January 2013.
The contracts are for ten years with a initial possible extension of a further five years. Local democracy is destroyed in one fell swoop as accountability and control is removed from the local electorate to Capita’s boardroom.
Of the 520 staff in transferred December 2012, 57 per cent will be made redundant as work is transferred from North London to Belfast, Carlisle, Southampton, to name but a few of Capita’s outsourcing centres. More face a similar future in January 2013.
And it’s not just this government that has been creating this dark shadow. “We believe that the way outsourcing has been done in the last couple of decades has created a major problem,” says the report – which adds, rightly, that the way public spending is done, and therefore who suffers most from cuts, is an “even bigger” issue than the cuts themselves ■