We Own It: Why we need a Public Service Users Bill

Cat Hobbs, Founder, We Own It

In 2013 the coalition government pushed ahead with plans to privatise ever more of our public services, taking aim at key British institutions like the Royal Mail, the NHS and the search-and-rescue service as well as announcing plans to re-privatise RBS.

 

Increasingly, this doesn’t look like an evidence-based approach. While private companies like G4S keep letting us down, the public ownership option – for example in the case of East Coast rail – offers a real, practical, successful alternative that has strong public support.

 

We Own It is calling for a Public Service Users Bill to protect and promote the high quality, accountable services that we all need. The people who use public services must have a look-in when it comes to how our public services are run.

 

We welcome Labour’s commitment to applying Freedom of Information legislation to private companies running public services. The party needs to go further, by requiring that private companies also share performance and financial data, and giving the public a right to recall them when they do a bad job.

 

The public should be consulted before any service is privatised or outsourced. Local and national government should be required to look at public ownership as the default option before contracting out, and as a value for money benchmark when they do contract out. Organisations with a social purpose – the public sector but also genuine mutuals, cooperatives, social enterprises and charities – should be prioritised above private companies in the tendering process.

 

We Own It is a new organisation for everyone who wants public services to be run for people not profit. We are a voice for public service users who want public services that are owned by us and accountable to us. The drive to privatise everything has gone too far. Join us to discuss how Labour can help redress the balance.

 

For information about the We Own It joint fringe event at Labour Party Conference with Unions21 click here.

 

Unions21 is not party political and does not support any political faction or policy, but promotes trade unions and their aims by engaging across the political spectrum on relevant issues.

 

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