Opinion Former Article

PCS: Welfare plans mean 'big profits for big business'

Plans by the government to further 'open up' the welfare state will simply mean "big profits for big business" the Public and Commercial Services union says.

With work and pensions secretary Iain Duncan Smith set to address the Tory party conference tomorrow (3), the union says it is a myth that small-scale charities and social enterprises will benefit from the government's reforms.

In its submission to the government's open public services white paper, the union identifies major problems with Mr Duncan Smith's work programme, where 33 of the 34 contracts went to large private sector providers.

The submission says the government's plans will crowd out local voluntary services because they do not have the financial means to bid for large contracts, especially with cuts to local authority budgets being passed on to them.

The submission also cites the example of Medical Imaging Australasia, set up in 2000 by a group of Australian radiologists to sell X-ray and scan services, previously delivered in-house.

After floating on the stock exchange, the outfit expanded and won contracts in the UK with the NHS, before being bought by one of Australia's top 100 companies, then taken over by a private equity firm, ending up incorporated into a company owned by the Dubai royal family - bearing no relation to its initial purpose of being an 'employee-led' mutual to provide more personalised services.

The union believes the government's plans outlined in the white paper are not being driven by economic necessity, but as part of a political project to reduce the welfare state to a patchwork of disconnected services.

With 2.5 million people out of work, including a record number of young people, instead of cutting jobs and privatising services, the government should invest to create jobs and help our economy to grow.

PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said: "Camouflaged by the rhetoric of a 'big society' and 'cooperation', the government's plans will simply mean big profits for big business.

"Ministers do not appear to be interested in making our public services better, they are pursuing a political agenda to undermine them and sell them off."

ENDS

Notes

- For information and interview requests contact PCS national press officer Richard Simcox on 020 7801 2747 or 07833 978216

- The Public and Commercial Services union represents civil and public servants in central government. It has around 290,000 members in over 200 departments and agencies, and in parts of government transferred to the private sector. PCS is the UK's sixth largest union and is affiliated to the TUC. The general secretary is Mark Serwotka and the president is Janice Godrich - on Twitter @janicegodrich

- Follow PCS on Twitter @pcs_union

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