From 2011: Tories Launch Workfare Policies at Conference Sponsored by Workfare Contractors

Private Eye in the issue for the 22nd July -4th August 2011 also reported on the way David Cameron launched his policies further placing government services in the hands of private companies, including those running the various workfare schemes, at a conference organised by one of the organisation working for the same companies.

Will It Workfare?

When David Cameron launched his “Open Public Services” white paper last week, he did so at a conference arranged by a think-tank funded by the very firms who will benefit from the privatisations his document proposes.

Cameron unveiled his plan at a Canary Wharf event hosted by “Reform”, a right-wing charity funded by business “partners”. Cameron and his ministers regularly appear at Reform events; and the PM proposed “releasing the grip of state control and putting power in people’s hands”.

The list of Reform’s backers suggests who those people will be. They include leading hospital privatiser General Healthcare, prisons and schools firm G4S, cleaning and catering outfit Sodexo and all-purpose giants Serco and Capita. Telereal Trillium, which already gets £284m a year for running government properties, also funds Reform, as does PA Consulting, which makes millions as an adviser on several privatisations.

But will the outsourcing plan actually work? Given how existing arrangements are panning out, it seems unlikely.

Days before the white paper, the Department for Work and Pensions quietly published some research on the previous government’s “welfare-to-work” outsourcing scheme, which pensions secretary Iain Duncan Smith will soon expand with a new “work programme”. The model involves layers of bureaucracy that would be derided in the public sector: first “prime providers” creaming off the fees, then subcontractors doing the leg work. And it’s not going well.

The DWP report reveals that, so parlous is the economics, “60 per cent of subcontractors have sought financial assistance from their prime provider”. As for the notion of the private sector bearing the risk, the researchers record: “The 23 percent of subcontractors receiving guaranteed referrals from prime contractors are much more likely to feel financially secure.” When the insecurity of any of the 77 percent translate into failure, the taxpayer will pick up the pieces.

Perhaps more revealing than the research is the fact that it was conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers. With the inside track, PwC last month withdrew its bid to act as a prime provider and subcontractor on IDS’ new work programme.

PS: The work scheme is at least providing jobs for former Labour ministers.

Jim Knight, given a life peerage after losing his South Dorset seat in the 2010 general election, is a former employment minister who last month became a non-executive director of Alderwood Education.

This company was launched specifically to cash in on the Duncan Smith initiative; its executives saying that “welfare to work is a huge growth opportunity”. Well,, it has been for Lord Knight, who until recently was an opposition employment spokesman in the upper chamber and now joins a gaggle of other ex-Labour ministers in the work programme field. The include David Blunkett (A4E), Jacqui Smith (Sarina Russo) and Angela Smith (Vertex).

This provides further proof of the fact that the public-private partnerships favoured by the Right since Thatcher don’t work, are massively inefficient and need to be regularly bailed out by the taxpayer. This is also demonstrated by the way the PFI contracts awarded to the private firms building and running hospitals regularly go way over time and budget. But such contracts aren’t really about providing services efficiently. They’re about giving public money to private firms, which fund the political parties and provide lucrative directorships for politicians.

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One Response to “From 2011: Tories Launch Workfare Policies at Conference Sponsored by Workfare Contractors”

  1. Mike Sivier Says:

    Reblogged this on Vox Political.

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