Me, a champion for public service users?

Of course. I have long championed public service. I have been a public servant, and many in my family are thus engaged.

I have been sent the following, and thought it worth sharing.

Ed Miliband has promised ‘people-powered public services’ while Labour’s National Policy Forum talks about ‘an invitation to the consumers of Britain into decision-making processes’. The Public Service Users Bill is a way of building on many existing Labour commitments. 70 Labour MPs have already signed up to the idea by supporting Early Day Motion 438. The Co-operative Party has committed to introducing a Public Service Users Bill in its Agenda for Britain.1 The Social Economy Alliance also supports the Bill.Labour has committed to lots of good policies on outsourcing and privatisation already but there are key policies supported by the public which are missing. Polling shows support for public provision is consistently higher than for private provision, and outsourcing companies like G4S and Serco are very unpopular.3 People want politicians to tackle issues of transparency and accountability and put their needs ahead of private profit.4 The Bill would put public service users first through a range of popular powers:

What the Bill would mean

Labour has committed to lots of good policies on outsourcing and privatisation already but there are key policies supported by the public which are missing. Polling shows support for public provision is consistently higher than for private provision, and outsourcing companies like G4S and Serco are very unpopular.3 People want politicians to tackle issues of transparency and accountability and put their needs ahead of private profit. The Bill would put public service users first through a range of popular powers:

  • Freedom of Information for private companies running services
  • Outsourcing contracts and performance and financial data made publicly available
  • A right to recall bad private companies
  • Public consultation about what the public wants from services and before any privatisation or outsourcing
  • Public ownership as the default option
  • Requirement to have an in-house bid when contracts are let
  • Cooperatives, social enterprise, charities, social value encouraged

Why legislation is the best solution

Implementing Labour’s existing policies through legislation – through one Act – would be more efficient, saving the hassle and bureaucracy of doing it piecemeal without legislation. For example, Labour’s promises on applying FOI to private companies running public services and allowing public sector bodies to run rail franchises would both require primary legislation. Both of these new powers, and many others, could be introduced through the Public Service Users Bill. Legislation would help to create an overarching narrative about the need for public service users to have a voice, under a clear theme of transparency, accountability and using public money wisely. It would also mean more parliamentary oversight and the changes would outlast changes of government or minister. Labour could claim that it had put the people affected by public service contracts at the centre of public services policy.

A vote-winning policy

The last four years have seen government spending on outsourcing double to £88 billion. A policy of ending privatisation/outsourcing by default and promoting public ownership would make people more likely to vote for a party by a ratio of 4:1.5

“Under the coalition, more and more public services have been privatised and outsourced without giving the people affected a voice. The Public Service Users Bill would put the public first, giving us a way to stop privatisation-by-default and promote transparency and accountability. It would tie together Labour policies on rail and the NHS with the rest of our public services. The Cooperative Party has already supported the Bill in its agenda for Britain, and many MPs would welcome its inclusion in the Labour Party manifesto and so we are supporting moves to do so.” Geraint Davies, Labour and Co-operative MP for Swansea West

See also Early day motion 438 : PROPOSAL FOR A PUBLIC SERVICE USERS BILL

The Co-operative Party has also campaigned on People-powered Public Services

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