Cat Hobbs “People all over the country are frustrated about their services being sold off or handed over to companies who don’t care, and don’t deliver”

Here’s the speech that Cat Hobbs, founder of We Own It, gave at their Unions21 hosted event at Labour Party Conference


“Thank you so much for coming today, it’s great to see you all. I thought I’d start our discussion today by reading you the story of someone who got in touch to support us recently. He wanted to be kept anonymous so let’s call him Dave.


This is what Dave said to us:


“This is probably the single most relevant issue in today’s politics. As far as I am aware the Green party are the only ones who are promoting renationalisation. Which is scary as if the facts were publicised it would surely be a vote winner for any party, demonstrating nicely that policy in all the major parties is driven by party donors and lobbyists not by informed public opinion and definitely not common sense.


If it’s any use to you my personal example of privatisation not working is this:


When I arrive in my lab each morning it generally hasn’t been cleaned properly, some times not at all. I call the Sodexo help desk and report it and then quickly clean anything that is really nasty myself before the first patient arrives. As far as I know Sodexo suffer no penalty for not fulfilling this part of their lucrative hospital cleaning contract and therefore has no interest in improving the service they provide. They continue to make a profit. Meanwhile the taxpayer pays for me, on pay band 7, to mop floors. A very expensive way to do it, especially if you have already paid a cleaner to. Hospital management don’t take any interest as they have already shown a saving on their cleaning services. What a load of BS.”


It’s not just Dave. People all over the country are frustrated about their services being sold off or handed over to companies who don’t care, and don’t deliver.


They are frustrated about high water bills, energy bills and rail fares.


They are frustrated with G4S and Serco being allowed to bid to run probation services while they’re being investigated for defrauding the taxpayer.


They are frustrated that even though many councils are bringing public services back in-house because it works better, others, like Barnet, are locking themselves into 10 year contracts with private companies like Capita. They are doing this against the will of local people, supported by the government’s ‘open public services’ agenda (a bit of lingo that could come straight out of 1984).


Labour has got to do better than this. Not a bit better, by default, because it’s quite easy to be better than this government without even trying. It needs to be a lot better.


We are giving Labour a ready-made solution: start by committing to a Public Service Users Bill, to promote high quality services and give all of us a voice when it comes to how they are run.


Labour is already against Royal Mail privatisation. It should be in favour of giving us a say over whether it happens by requiring public consultation before any public services are privatised or outsourced. Nearly 80% of people would support this.


Many Labour MPs are fighting for East Coast to stay public. It would be logical to require local and national government to look at public ownership best practice whenever they contract out, and put forward an in-house bid when they do. 80% of the public support this idea.


Shadow Lord Chancellor and Justice Secretary Sadiq Khan has committed to applying Freedom of Information legislation to private companies running public services. That’s great but they should also be required to share performance and financial data, and we should have a right to recall them when they do a bad job. Again, 80% of people would support a right to recall, including, surprisingly, 90% of Conservative voters.


Labour wants to increase the role of cooperatives and real mutuals in our economy. It should be prioritising organisations with a social purpose above private companies in the bidding process for our public services.


The Bill we are calling for is feasible and practical. Today we’re asking Labour to commit to it. Do it for Dave. Not Dave Cameron, the other Dave, at the hospital. Actually, do it for Dave Cameron too – to prove that Labour is different, and better.”


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One Response to “Cat Hobbs “People all over the country are frustrated about their services being sold off or handed over to companies who don’t care, and don’t deliver””

  1. annie says:

    Spot on, Cat! Keep on fighting for what you believe in!

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