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Welfare Reform on the Web (November 2001): Welfare State - UK

£7BN "OWN GOAL" LEAVES PUBLIC SERVICES BEGGING

R. Sylvester

Daily Telegraph, Sept. 6th 2001, p.10

Reports that government departments underspent their budgets by £7bn last year. The largest shortfalls came in spending on schools, hospitals and transport. The problem seems to be that the spending allocations were announced before anyone had decided how the money should be spent.

THE AGENDA FOR PUBLIC SERVICES IN THE NEW PARLIAMENT

Local Government Association

London: 2001

A poll of 62 senior managers in the public, private and voluntary sectors and 1,000 members of the public showed that while 76% of public sector managers believe services have improved, only 20% of the public agree. Three quarters of business leaders believed services had actually deteriorated over the past four years, and 61% predicted they would worsen still further. However, two thirds of the public believed services would improve with more private sector involvement. There was also scepticism among the public about whether they actually had any influence on service provision.

BLAIR CAUGHT IN TWO MINDS OVER PUBLIC SERVICES

P. Riddell

Times, Sept. 3rd 2001, p.14

Analyses the roots of public sector union opposition to private sector involvement in the delivery of public services such as health and education. Argues that this is based on a misunderstanding of government plans. Government is proposing that services should be publicly financed but delivered by private companies, not that they should be fully privatised so that people have to pay at the point of use.

BLAIR FACES TUC FURY ON PRIVATE DEALS

A. McSmith and G. Jones

Daily Telegraph, Sept. 10th 2001, p.1 + 2

Reports the introduction of new rules to protect the pay and pension rights of public sector workers transferred to private companies under public private partnerships. The reform will protect employees' rights when the business they work for is taken over by another company. Government hopes that this move will help to head off union opposition to the increased use of the private sector in the delivery of public services.

(See also Times, Sept. 10th 2001, p.1; Financial Times, Sept. 10th 2001, p.3; Independent, Sept. 10th 2001, p.6; Guardian, Sept. 10th 2001, p.1).

BLAIR URGES UNIONS TO STOP MISREPRESENTING HIM

R. Bennett and C. Adams

Financial Times, Sept. 12th 2001, p.8

In a speech circulated to delegates at the TUC conference, Tony Blair affirmed that the limits of privatisation of the public services were set out in the education white paper, the NHS plan and the 10-year transport plan. He promised not to further extend the role of the private sector without consulting the unions. He blamed the poor performance of public services on the system, not the staff.

BLAIR WARNED OF ROUGH RIDE AHEAD

N. Watt and S. Hall

Guardian, Aug. 24th 2001, p.2

Reports that TUC general secretary, John Monks has warned that government plans for greater private sector involvement in public service delivery will lead to a "very difficult relationship" with trade unions.

(See also Independent, Aug. 24th 2001, p.2; Times, Aug. 24th 2001, p.2).

MORE UNEQUAL THAN OTHERS

D. Walker

Guardian, Sept. 5th 2001, p.15

Article looks at how tax, income and unemployment are measured and used to reduce inequality figures in Britain.

NO PRIVATE PANACEAS

M. Hodge

Guardian, Sept. 6th 2001, p.17

Reaffirms the government's commitment to control of public services by public institutions. However the services are in need of improvement and should be reformed by: 1) becoming user-focused; 2) better integration; 3) better performance management; and 4) decentralisation.

PRIVATISATION "COULD WIDEN GENDER PAY GAP"

B. Clement

Independent, Sept. 12th 2001, p.12

The Equal Opportunities Commission has pointed to research evidence suggesting that privatisation of public services could lead to women working longer hours for lower pay.

TONY BLAIR INTERVIEW

P. Toynbee, M. White and P. Wintour

Guardian, Sept. 11th 2001, p.1, 2 + 7

Extracts from a wide ranging interview with Tony Blair, in which he reaffirmed his commitment to solidarity and social justice. He emphasised his support for public service reform by whatever means works, including more private sector involvement in delivery. There were also some hints that the government may respond to public concern and look at reforming the student loan system, which is at present leading to young people leaving university deeply in debt.

TRANSFER OF UNDERTAKINGS (PROTECTION OF EMPLOYMENT) REGULATIONS 1981 (TUPE): GOVERNMENT PROPOSALS FOR REFORM

Department of Trade and Industry

2001

Proposals cover transfers within public administration, service provision changes (contracting in or out), occupational pensions, notification of employee liability information, dismissal by reason of transfer of an undertaking, changes to terms and conditions of affected employees, and application of the legislation in relation to insolvency proceedings.

UNIONS OUT TO SINK BLAIR'S "BIG IDEA"

P. Johnston and G. Trefgarne

Daily Telegraph, Sept. 11th 2001, p.4

The trade unions remain adamantly opposed to the government's plans for more private sector involvement in public service delivery. In order to placate them, the government is proposing further measures to protect the pay and conditions of public sector workers transferred to private companies. This may scare off potential private investors.

UNIONS SUSPEND BATTLE OVER PUBLIC SERVICES

C. Adams and R. Bennett

Financial Times, Sept. 13th 2001, p.13

The debate on private sector involvement in public service delivery did not take place at the TUC conference due to the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center in New York. However the debate will be revived at the Labour Party Conference.

VOLUNTARY SECTOR MUST STILL FIGHT BATTLE OVER FUNDING

S. Gillen

Community Care, no.1391, 2001, p.10-11

Argues that the voluntary sector needs help and support to access government funding and to work in partnership with local authorities. Government has responded by launching the Community Empowerment Fund to help the voluntary sector become involved in Local Strategic Partnerships. Article goes on to discuss various problems with the administration of the Fund.

WE NEED A FRESH APPROACH TO SCHOOLS AND HOSPITALS

J. Daley

Daily Telegraph, Aug. 28th 2001, p.17

Argues that centralised control is the most efficient way of running the health and education services as long as they are constituted as state monopolies. Unfortunately this approach does not deliver the diverse and flexible services customers now demand. These can only be created through the free market.

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