No more public sector

A quick (short) blog post which I’ll add to later on this year.

I notice the trend to move public sector services to private sector and a lot of congratulatory back slapping over the fact that mainland water companies were privatised and this has made them effective compared to NI water which is still state owned. I’m not sure that I agree that the argument suggested infers that privatisation is the solution. It is A solution. There a good debate about this on Digital Spy .

Given the current economic problems the accountability of private companies doesn’t seem much better than publicly owned ones. Taking rail privatisation as an example, it hasn’t necessarily improved the services to customers, despite the investments made to infrastructure. The trend here if things continue and the public purse shrinks is to have no private sector, this is true in education, security, transport and utilities. Ultimately this could work well if there is adequate accountability and enforcement of things which are ‘in the public good’, at some point though people are going to realise that privatisation is just a different model for people paying and doesn’t necessarily guarantee improvements in service to the consumer.

In any case I hope that the government doesn’t do the knee jerk reaction with organisations within the public sector as things get tight simply because it removes the problem from their books. It would be better to consider models like the BBC, an organisation which does outstanding work, without having to move completely to private ownership. So more research is needed here about modelling, investment and accountability.

About willwoods
I'm Head of Learning and Teaching Technologies in the Institute of Educational Technology at the Open University.

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