How Cameron’s Big Society 3.0 (corporate welfare edition) could be checked


9:00 am - February 25th 2011

by Don Paskini    


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The Big Society started off with the idea that people would run services for themselves. When it became clear that this wasn’t going to work, Big Society 2.0 was about promoting charities and social action.

When it became clear many of these “Big Society” charities were being wiped out by the cuts, and were very ungratefully complaining about government cuts, Big Society 3.0 was born.

But this is the worst idea of them all.

David Cameron announced earlier this week was all about public services being opened up to be run by the private sector. Or, as Sunny called it, a plan to privatise nearly everything.

There are any number of reasons why this is a bad idea.

But here’s the real problem: the architect of this Corporate Welfare programme, claimed that

responsibility for fixing the deficit can be transferred from the central state to the customer by transferring responsibility for the cost of services via a market to purchasers of public services.

Get that? If you use public services, the responsibility for fixing our budget deficit now falls on you, not the government.

It is almost certainly bound to lead to service users and taxpayers getting ripped off by corporates.

I’ve run some consultation meetings over the last few weeks about the government’s NHS reforms. Of the two which worried people most, the first was that public services might end up closing.

The second was that these private providers will run rings round the doctors who are commissioning services and exploit loopholes (in contracts) to increase charges for services which are currently free.

Government proposals to protect users of public services and taxpayers if either of the above happen can be summarised as…

[blank]

The Tory Corporate Welfare plans will attract all sorts of people looking to make money from government contracts. Some will have a genuine belief that they can run a service at a higher quality and lower cost, while others will believe that they can make money by cutting costs, and deliver the bare minimum required of them (as with cleaning in hospitals or safety on the railways).

Responses
There are several ways we could respond. Lefties could find examples of such rip-offs and highlight them, so that public opinion turns against them. The public will need to be informed on what is going on under their noses and that should be our job.

What the Labour party should do is announce that a future Labour government would put in place legislation which allows every ‘corporate welfare’ contract to be reviewed. It would be impossible to cancel them all en-masse.

In cases where it is clear that the taxpayer is being ripped off or service users are getting a worse deal, the contracts will be declared null and void, and the contractor will be liable to fines equal to a proportion of the profits they made from the contract. (The mechanism could be something like 5% of service users have to request that the contract be reviewed, in which case it is reviewed by a citizen’s jury).

The advantage of these ideas is that the threat of it will be enough to protect people from the worst of the corporate welfare parasites. Companies won’t bid to take on contracts and provide the bare minimum, or exploit loopholes to charge patients for services if they know that there is a risk that they could end up losing the contract and getting fined if the Tories lose the next election.

Those who are confident that they can provide better services have nothing to fear, while those that want to get rich on government handouts will look elsewhere.

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About the author
Don Paskini is deputy-editor of LC. He also blogs at donpaskini. He is on twitter as @donpaskini
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Story Filed Under: Blog ,Economy ,Fight the cuts ,Health

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Reader comments


Those who are confident that they can provide better services have nothing to fear, while those that want to get rich on government handouts will look elsewhere.

Of course if they end up failing it’s people like me who are stuffed.

I find it notable that in this and other areas arguments that Her Majesty’s Opposition might put forward policies aimed at reversing the privatisation agenda even in part have been met by silence from Miliband et al.

3. Brian Stafford

No one ever mentions the potential for corruption with these private contracts. After all it was Putin’s methodology that proclaimed giving away assets to the people, before they ended up in the hands of his own backers. I only mention it because the Tory candidate in our area was largely financed by a pharmaceutical company.

One small point; organisations that are funded by the government are not charities, those that are funded by charity are.

“What the Labour party should do is announce that a future Labour government would put in place legislation which allows every ‘corporate welfare’ contract to be reviewed. It would be impossible to cancel them all en-masse.”

I think you would find they will insert some form of golden handcuff penalty clauses.

Are state services so perfect that it is beyond the realms of possibility that a more incentivised service provider may be providing a better service and a future Labour government might not want to change them?

” In cases where it is clear that the taxpayer is being ripped off or service users are getting a worse deal, the contracts will be declared null and void, and the contractor will be liable to fines equal to a proportion of the profits they made from the contract. ”

Sounds a bit like making up the law. Who is going to judge ‘ a worse deal ‘, politicians? My impression is people care about the services they receive and not who provides them. The taxpayers can only be ripped off if their taxes go up to pay for services. If the percentage of taxes going to pay for services fall. Who does that suggest was ripping off the taxpayers in your opinion?

I think Labour and their activists would be better served by looking at mutualist and independent sector options to Mr Cameron’s big society rather than pining for statism. The days of the big state in Europe are over.

“One small point; organisations that are funded by the government are not charities, those that are funded by charity are.”

We have never discussed this before on this site, its a pleasure to read such original thoughts.

I do hope you’ll be taking your words of wisdom to the charity comission though, as they have a different opinion to you.

@ Don

Absolutely agree that the outsourcing of public sector contracts and services to profit making organisations is utterly pernicious. Monopoly state corporatism is everyone’s enemy.

What we need are fewer public services, not bastardised ones.

Of course it will lead to tax payers being ripped off by corporates. One thing I have never understood about the attacks on PFI is why the governments that signed them are the only ones blamed. Certainly they *are* to blame, but they aren’t the only ones. What PFI deals have shown is how utterly unscrupulous and greedy private companies are. They have rigged arrangements so they can rip off the tax payer, and so far they have got away with it. Nobody seems prepared to criticise them for their ruthless exploitation of the neoliberal willingness to trust them. Why? Do we all really believe that (a) private is automatically better than public and that (b) private companies are right to rip off their customers in the name of profit for their shareholders? Is that what we believe, really? Have we fallen that far into the capitalist pit?

Useful thinkpiece, Dan. Though not immediately implementable (in terms of law), it’s good to keep on throwing these ideas towards Labour in opposition, even in the knowledge it won’t happen in the ‘pure’ forms recommended.

“Lefties could find examples of such rip-offs and highlight them, so that public opinion turns against them.” Ah, you mean like this? http://www.bickerstafferecord.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2010/05/fulllSERCO1.pdf
It’s three years old now but it was a review-in-a-shoestring of the way Serco goes about some of its business in dealings with local authorities who don’t know any better, including being less than transparent about the way it’s price increases are calculated (e.g. “the actual average price rise was around 9.24% rather than the 4.54% rise claimed by SERCO…..rises for individuals, as distinct from those for other public organisations, may have been as high as 14% in the same year.”)

The problem as ever is that the examination of such stuff is a) time-consuming b) necessarily a bit complex and hard to get into the public domain (the local paper report on my report was front page but simply concluded that ‘Families are too poor to go swimming” rather than anything to do with Serco). I suppose this is where we need to find the proper junction between local reporting/investigation and efforts like False Economy.

Round my way of course the main issue nowadays is the outsourcing of a good deal of Lancashire County Council to BT, on the same lines (and with the same Chief Executive of the JVC) as happened in Liverpool. I reported on the results in Liverpool at http://thoughcowardsflinch.com/2010/10/01/outsourcing-and-democracy-the-liverpool-direct-scandal/ with links to the Liverpool Echo’s excellent investigative reporting. Now the Lancashire takeover by BT is being rushed through, wrapped in secrecy for ‘commercial’ reasons, though it’s interesting that I was denied sight of the contract in the same week that Francis Maude published guidance to local authorities on the need to make public all their contracts with charities in the interests of competition.

Paga @ 7

What we need are fewer public services, not bastardised ones.

No doubt you were disgusted as I was to see the nanny State kick in, at huge expense to save a few hundred feckless people who found themselves stranded in a desert when a dictator started murdering its own people.

Funny that, when these people went to work for a despot, tax free, they were quite happy to live under a mass murderer and seemed unaware that that he was suppressing his own Countrymen. They were living outside the ‘Big State’ and the ‘evil’ tax regime of the British State. However, once their own lives were at stake, suddenly they want the levers of the big State to rescue them from their own greed and misjudgement. Where was the famed ‘self reliance’, ‘freedom from the State’, ‘everyman for himself’ attitude these people where all showing on the way out to work for one of the most brutal regimes on the planet?

No, they came running into the arms of Nanny when her planes and ships came into view. It is a good thing that enough people where willing to pay tax to keep everything ready to save them from themselves. I wonder if these people still resented having to pay to keep a local library open when the sound of mass slaughter was ringing in their ears?

tories hate anything they can’t own. Ownership is always about power.

Once everything is owned by a few wealthy corporations the tories will have completed their long term mission…………………..to destroy democracy.

The right does not need a state media. You just create a corporate state and the corporate media becomes the state media. Same will be true for everything else.

I just wish I could understand what the idiot lie dems think they are getting out of all this. So far they have got jack shit.

@ 10. Jim

That is a good point, Jim. It is also a good illustration why we will always need the Royal Navy.

They were living outside the ‘Big State’ and the ‘evil’ tax regime of the British State.

Actually, that depends on how long they were domiciled in Libya. And if there isn’t a double-indemnity taxation treaty between the UK and Libya, they may have been taxed twice, by each state. And just because they worked abroad doesn’t make them right-wing Tories who fail to appreciate public services. You plank.

ScoobyDoo @ 13

I never said they were Tories, Right Wing or anything like that. Of course some of them may have been, but that is not the point.

The point is, we are told that we need to reduce the State’s interference in our lives and that we need to take more responsibility for our actions as well as be self-reliant. Yet here we see people who went to work in a part of the World run by a pretty evil dictator

All well and good, but they are not there furthering the British interest, nor are they merely passing through, they are out there working for ‘Big Oil’ for as much money as they can. They have made adult choices after weighing up the pros and cons. So far, so good.

Now, when it all kicks off, they suddenly find that they are no longer ‘safe’ i.e. they are now in the same boat as the locals. They have little food and water and at the mercy of various ‘malcontents’ and now the ‘State’ is expected to ride in a white charger and save them from the decisions they made? They did not become ‘self reliant’, they did not accept liability for their actions, no, they squealed like stuck pigs, and what is worse so did the Right Wing press. Cameron, who has watched silence as millions of British people were losing livelihoods, offers a grovelling apology to these people for not righting their own fucking wrongdoing! No ‘Big Society’ there. No ‘we need to take control of our lives’ or ‘local people, coming up with local solutions, without the dead hand of the State getting in the way’. All of a sudden, the huge leviathan of the ‘State swoops in to make it all better and everyone pretends to look the other way. That is not what the ‘Big Society’ is all about. It is not about saving well of people from bad situations, that is the State’s job. The ‘Big Society’ is about saving poor people from bad situations, in the form of charity.

The Libyan position is the Liberation’s dream. The basic premise is that people can live independently from the State and can waft in and out of the ‘society’ that the State supports without anything passing between either Party. And no doubt those tiny little enclaves felt exactly like that. But it is all a lie, because those little enclaves could and do only exist because the brutal State that required the oil money, were protecting those enclaves. Once the State ‘got smaller’ and these people were not safe, it was then the ‘job’ of the wicked ‘Big State’ that was forced to forelock tug their apology whilst getting them to hell out. Not a ‘charity’ not themselves, not ‘fate’ or any other thing but the nanny State.

Funny that.

Tax Payers money over many years has built up this Nation and all the sevices that it provides. All the National Assets and services belong to “US” the Tax Payer and we should decide what happens to “OUR” Nations Assets and services, not the Government alone.

David Cameron and all the Millionaires that now Govern this country should not have the power to sell off or do what ever they feel necessary with “OUR” National Assets or services without a full consultation with all The United Kingdoms Citizens with a referendum on each issue if need be..

People like David Cameron are rich people that are out of touch with the ordinary person and should therefore not be in a position to do what ever they like with someone elses Property, Wealth call it what you like.

If we are not careful this deceitful Coalition Government will leave us with nothing and we will be slaves to the elite which will leave the vast majority of the population in dire poverty and without adequate support in many services.

David Cameron and others in this Coalition are Evil and people really need to open there eyes because the warning signs are already there.

@ Jim

Your antipathy to UK citizens in Libya being assisted to return makes for a weird sounding rant.

One of the few legitimate responsibilities of the state is to enforce the non-aggression axiom- to protect its citizens from violence initiated by others. Helping UK nationals return from Libya, where there is no such protection, would seem to be a proper response.

Working abroad to earn money to sustain your family does indicate a certain degree of self-reliance and is certainly preferable to choosing to sit at home and exercise the “right” to have others provide for them.

“One of the few legitimate responsibilities of the state ”

What do you think the other legitimate responsibilities are?

Pagar @ 16

One of the few legitimate responsibilities of the state is to enforce the non-aggression axiom- to protect its citizens from violence initiated by others.

Isn’t that very convenient for you Libertarians that you have a big ‘get out of free card’ like that? It is almost like you think you CAN afford health insurance, you CAN afford private education, unemployment insurance, but you can never afford an aircraft carrier or the infrastructure to support a massive airlift, so ‘luckily’ that is a ‘legitimate’ role for government.

It has never been the job of the State to protect it’s citizens from harm from foreign powers. The job of the military has always been to defend the State. We sent millions of citizens to die in Europe during much of the last Centaury, hardly defending them was it? They died defending the State and any citizens that were afforded defence was merely coincidental.

Anyway, irrespective of whether the State has a duty to defend it’s citizens, these citizens had left our borders and the borders of our allies. It could even be argued that these people had, in fact, sided to work for our enemies.

Working abroad to earn money to sustain your family does indicate a certain degree of self-reliance and is certainly preferable to choosing to sit at home and exercise the “right” to have others provide for them.

But it was all illusionary though, wasn’t it? The only reason they could live out-with the State was because one of the most oppressive regimes on the planet were looking after them. Behind those compound walls, they lived in their own semi Westernised bubble among the abject poverty that surrounded them. They did not live in that bubble from sheer force of will, they lived in that bubble because one of the most authoritarian States in World where on the other side of the wall, keeping safe.

These people were living their lives on ‘public services’ all right. Not a library or a swimming pool though, oh no. The lives of millions of their fellow citizens where brutally suppressed in order to provide them with the comfort that they needed in order to provide a mass murdering dictator the money to carry on.

Once that bubble was gone, they found their little freedom oasis in the desert was not so idyllic, so they shrugged their collective shoulders with a ‘ah well it was good while it lasted’. Oh, sorry, they DEMANDED that someone else pick up the pieces and that they be flown back to a Country with the most oppressive laws, high taxation, nanny State.

Your antipathy to UK citizens

That scores a whopping ten out of ten for sheer irony.

@ Planeshift

“One of the few legitimate responsibilities of the state ”

What do you think the other legitimate responsibilities are?

Do you know, I’ve been thinking about this all morning and you’re right.

There aren’t any.

Which one are you, Pagar?

Lots of people from different political perspectives believe in limited government and checking the power of the state. Personally, I can never understand why lefties in this country are so attracted to statism. Dogmatic libertarianism will never achieve anything, not because the public have been duped into dependency, but because they correctly work out some things are better done collectively. Pragmatism will trump dogma everytime.

http://www.leftycartoons.com/the-24-types-of-libertarian/

@ Richard W

Dogmatic libertarianism will never achieve anything

Disagree.

It will never achieve political power (thank God) but the doctrine can seriously influence the political debate and move the pendulum. It already has.

not because the public have been duped into dependency, but because they correctly work out some things are better done collectively.

I agree that some things are better done collectively (though not necessarily always by the state) but would also argue that state dependency is never a good thing.

Pragmatism will trump dogma everytime.

Agreed.

But having principles that inform our actions and beliefs is also important.

It has never been the job of the State to protect it’s citizens from harm from foreign powers. The job of the military has always been to defend the State. We sent millions of citizens to die in Europe during much of the last Centaury, hardly defending them was it? They died defending the State and any citizens that were afforded defence was merely coincidental.

Are you serious?

UKL @ 22

Sure, that is the facts as they appear, don’t they? Can you think of a time when the army was ever used to directly defend its citizens? The Great War? The Second World War?

Every time the Army have been sent to battle, it for the requirements of the State, not the innocent men, women or children. Fair enough, but let us no suggest that the Army have been sent in to protect me from anything. They may have ended up defending me, but that was never the purpose they were set up for.

21 pagar

“….but would also argue that state dependency is never a good thing.”

Which is why your nihilistic vision is flawed. To say it is “never” a good thing simply betrays the fact that your ideological blinkers don’t allow you to see that, in certain circumstances, it may very well be a good thing.

Some people may be forced to be in a state of dependency, whether permanently or temporarily; it might be for health reasons, due to some natural disaster, or due to some economic melt down.

Are you seriously trying to maintain that it is “never” right to be dependent on the state, but that it “always” right that non-state organisations should provide such services?

@23 Jim

How safe do you think your community would have been without armed forces to resist the imposition of (to take just the obvious examples) a Napoleonic take-over in the early 1800’s, the imposition of German terms on us following a victory over the French in 1914, or Hitler establishing Moseley as our very own Quisling post Dunkirk?

You don’t have to be a libertarian to see that your argument is historically illiterate.

Galen10 @ 25

No, you are completely missing the point. I am not saying that the armed forces, have never defended individual members of the general public. I have said that it was never the job of the armed forces to defend communities; it was the job of the army to defend the State. Not that such activity is necessarily mutually exclusive, but if the army find itself in a position where they did become caught between defending the State and ‘your house’, I know where my money would be.

The fact that people happened to be better of under the British Government than say, Napoleon, the Kaiser or Hitler (or a placeman) is neither here nor there, because it is not (nor should it be) the job of the Army to look at the invaders manifesto and think ‘hmm, that is a good point’, and then switch sides. What if the army genuinely thought that the next invader had better ideas for its citizens (i.e. us), would you expect the armed forces to side with them and march onto London with them?

The job of the Army was and is strictly ‘My Country (State), right or wrong’ kind of set up and it could hardly be any different, could it? As such, the army’s job is to defend the State, not the citizens. If the army had to sacrifice a million people to repeal an invasion it would do so. In fact, during the Cold War our entire defence was based on entirely such a contingency. We own a vast nuclear arsenal and have built nuclear bunkers to house, not 60 million citizens but the apparatus of the State.

Ed Miliband and the Labour Party are happy with Camerons proposals ….their only response has been SILENCE ….dont look to the Labour party to dsave anything except their own corrupt necks …

“lping UK nationals return from Libya, where there is no such protection, would seem to be a proper response.”

I’ve been thinking about this, and concluded the response is similar to Tim Ws proposals for banks to pay a tax that acts as a form of insurance policy. Meaning if you go to do a job in an unstable country like Libya, there should be a tax that you pay that reflects the risk that your own country may have to rescue you.


Reactions: Twitter, blogs
  1. Liberal Conspiracy

    How Cameron's Big Society 3.0 (corporate welfare edition) could be checked http://bit.ly/dPVrhD

  2. Ferret Dave

    RT @libcon: How Cameron's Big Society 3.0 (corporate welfare edition) could be checked http://bit.ly/dPVrhD

  3. Don Paskini

    RT @libcon: How Cameron's Big Society 3.0 (corporate welfare edition) could be checked http://bit.ly/dPVrhD

  4. Owen

    RT @libcon: How Cameron's Big Society 3.0 (corporate welfare edition) could be checked http://bit.ly/dPVrhD

  5. meme

    RT @libcon: How Cameron's Big Society 3.0 (corporate welfare edition) could be checked http://bit.ly/dPVrhD

  6. Jonathan Taylor

    Good idea RT @libcon: How Cameron's Big Society 3.0 (corporate welfare edition) could be checked http://bit.ly/dPVrhD

  7. sunny hundal

    Great blog from @donpaskini – How Cameron’s Big Society 3.0 (corporate welfare edition) could b checked by Labour, left http://bit.ly/dPVrhD

  8. Broken OfBritain

    RT @sunny_hundal: How Cameron’s Big Society 3.0 (corporate welfare edition) could b checked by Labour, left http://bit.ly/dPVrhD

  9. hustongilmore

    RT @libcon: How Cameron's Big Society 3.0 (corporate welfare edition) could be checked http://bit.ly/dPVrhD

  10. Pucci Dellanno

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  11. A Better Way

    RT @libcon: How Cameron's Big Society 3.0 (corporate welfare edition) could be checked http://bit.ly/dPVrhD #betterway

  12. How Cameron’s Big Society 3.0 (corporate welfare edition) could be checked | Liberal Conspiracy « Uniquecomuniqua's Blog

    […] February 25, 2011 http://liberalconspiracy.org/2011/02/25/how-to-stop-david-came… […]





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