The We Own It campaign LINK will launch their report on the need for a Public Service Users Bill on Monday. The Bill would promote and protect high quality and accountable public services.
They list the benefits of public ownership:
1. You use itMeeting your needs – whether that's at the doctors' surgery or at the post office – should mean giving you time, attention and care. Public ownership makes it easier for staff to take the time that’s needed rather than squeezing services to boost profits. This means that when public services are in public hands, they tend to be better run. Local authorities across the UK are bringing services in-house to improve their quality and value for money.
2. You pay for itPublic services are something we all pay for, and we all use. Public ownership means your money is better spent, both locally and nationally. Money can be reinvested into services to improve them, instead of subsidising the profits of private companies. Savings are also made because services are integrated and there is no need to manage contracts. Publicly run East Coast rail has saved the taxpayer £600 million and if water was in public hands, household water bills would be around £80 a year cheaper.
3. You have a say in itWhen public services are run by local or national government, it's easier for you to know who to turn to when you want to complain, and to have your say in how you want services to be improved. The public sector must make data available to you and respond to Freedom Of Information requests (unlike the private sector). Public ownership also means it's possible for the whole of society to decide on a goal (for example, a long term energy policy) and achieve it efficiently. Most people want public services to be provided publicly and almost all of us want a say in how they are run.
4. You share itPublic services are something we all share. When services are owned by all of us, it's easier for staff to work with service users and community groups to improve them. This can and should involve imaginative ways to keep making them better. In the 21st century, public services should be about people, not profit. Public ownership can sometimes involve the voluntary sector, social enterprises and cooperatives where that's the right solution, and where there are safeguards in place to protect public assets.
5. Examples all over the world show that it works betterIn the UK, despite the current drive to privatise, many local authorities are bringing services in-house to boost satisfaction and save money. Across Europe, public ownership is making a comeback. For example, the water in Paris is now owned and controlled by the city, and in Germany energy is being generated locally by publicly owned utilities. In the US, a fifth of all previously outsourced services have been brought back in-house.
The Bill would ensure:
Public ownership would be the default for public services1. Public ownership would be prioritised as the default option that is looked at first, before contracting out (supported by 60% of the public). Local and national government would always explore best practice public ownership, before turning to private companies.
2. There would always be a realistic, thorough in-house bid from the public sector whenever a public service – local or national - is put out to tender (supported by 80% of the public).
3. The public would be consulted before any service is privatised or outsourced (supported by 79% of the public).
4. Organisations with a social purpose – the public sector and genuine cooperatives, mutuals, charities and social enterprises – would be prioritised in the tendering process (supported by 57% of the public).
Private companies running public services would be held to account1. The public would have a ‘right to recall’ private companies who are doing a bad job (supported by 88% of the public).
2. Private companies running public services would be transparent about their performance and financial data - as in the public sector (supported by 88% of the public).
3. Private companies running public services would be subject to Freedom Of Information legislation - as in the public sector (48% of the public mistakenly believe this is already the case).
4. The public would be properly consulted about the services they receive through public service contracts.