Who Should Run The Public Sector in the UK?
Should anyone be able to run a school or a cancer service or a care service? For the UK Government, it's all about getting people to have a stake in their society, to become a part of "the Big Society."
Hence, they are allowing parents to run their own schools if they want to. The idea is that the schools system has become far too centralized and bureaucratic. Teachers need to be freed up to take their own decisions based on the particular circumstances they find themselves in. It all sounds fairly good so far, but the problem is, if you take schools out of the national system, how do you guarantee fairness for those in the more deprived areas? Moreover, the whole thing basically seems to serve to undermine education professionals. The inference is that they can't do their job, but parents, with a background in whatever [and, for this Government, we are probably talking business], can make a much better fist of it.
The same goes with bells on for the UK Government's policy, announced this week, to adopt the so-called John Lewis co-operative model for public services. The idea is that people will feel they have more of a stake in a service if they have a voice in it. Ultimately, it allows groups of workers - and potentially the private sector - to take over public services.
But, as one union official said, it is one thing to sell sofas, as John Lewis does, and quite another to offer chemotherapy.
There are suspicions that the whole experiment is a smokescreen for allowing more private sector involvement in the public sector — in short, for privatizing the public sector. The fear is that this will either mean cost cutting in order to promote profits for the private sector or lower quality services.Continued on the next page