Opinion Former Article

NUT: Open Public Services White Paper

Open Public Services White Paper

Commenting on the Prime Minister’s launch of the Government’s White Paper setting out their vision for public services, Christine Blower, General Secretary of the National Union of Teachers, the largest teachers’ union, said;

“This is a White Paper that is filled with nothing but contradictions. David Cameron’s Big Society is shorthand for privatisation, pure and simple.

“The Prime Minister claims that he wants to reduce the role of Whitehall, yet in the case of their Academies and Free Schools programme, it is Whitehall to whom these schools will be answerable. The evidence on Charter Schools in America, which the PM claims are successful examples of alternative provision, shows they have not improved outcomes for the overwhelming majority of pupils.

“In the case of public services it is responsibility and accountability that matter most to people. Local authorities are essential in the oversight they bring to the provision of services such as education. Freedom and choice have little value if pupils and parents have no democratically elected body to go to with complaints or concerns.

“The provision of public services run for a profit is the inevitable consequence of Conservative party policy but certainly is no guarantee of efficiency. The House of Commons Public Accounts Committee raised concerns this year that in some academies there continues to be an unacceptable degree of financial mismanagement and lack of accountability.

“David Cameron talks glibly about local people running libraries or parks. This is a dishonest argument. The result will be further closures in addition to the ones we have already seen. It is only a very small minority of people who have the time and knowledge to run such services, a fact the Prime Minister is very well aware of. He should not be presenting this as a viable way for keeping services open.

“To break up and privatise the provision of essential services such as education will lead to a chaotic and piecemeal situation in which many people will lose out. The message to Government needs to be that our public services are not for sale.”

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