Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Privatisation of Welfare Green Lit by Labour

So, you thought that the Labour party represented a left-wing constituency did you? Of course not, that boat has long since sailed east. Whilst the new crackdown on those that claim welfare (by those that claim thousands to furnish their second homes) is deeply troubling, the willingness to open welfare up to the private sector is even more worrying. What was once the preserve of the state has now, like many other aspects of British life in the past ten years, been handed over to those whose primary concern is profit. How long before the NHS is completely handed over to corporate Britain (it's half way there already)? From The Times:

Radical changes to the welfare state, requiring claimants to look for work in order to continue receiving benefit, will be announced by the Government on Monday.

James Purnell, the Work and Pensions Secretary, has been given the go-ahead by Gordon Brown to implement all the main proposals of the Freud report, which was originally commissioned by Tony Blair and which will be seen as heralding a significant privatisation of the welfare system.

The Times revealed two weeks ago that the proposals include plans to force unemployed people to undertake community service in return for receiving benefit as a way of preventing them working in the “black economy”. But Mr Purnell, who will entrench his reputation as the Cabinet’s leading Blairite moderniser, will pave the way for massive involvement of the private and voluntary sectors in the provision of welfare.

From being a sceptic over the Freud report during his last months as Chancellor, and opposing parts of it, Mr Brown has become an enthusiastic advocate and has given Mr Purnell full rein to implement it.

Under the plan, businesses could bid to run programmes including welfare-to-work schemes and projects to rehabilitate former offenders. Companies will be encouraged to come up with welfare solutions, rather than wait to be asked, a reversal of current rules which stipulate that the Government decides which services to put out to tender.

No doubt many claimants will be forced into jobs in order to get them off the books, rather than offered long-term solutions. A report produced last year looking into the welfare to work program in America made the following conclusion:

There are risks attached to the significant involvement of for-profit organisations. They are likely to follow profit maximisation strategies shaped by contract incentives and this may not necessarily deliver what is best for clients, especially for those with greater barriers. Moreover, if the entry of for-profits into local delivery systems displaces existing private and public infrastructure, then future capacity may be at risk when market conditions change and larger for-profits remove their capital to seek greater profits elsewhere.

Once again, the pooret in society will be kicked in the teeth as their concerns are overridden by the concerns of profit-making organisations who will put quick returns ahead of the interests of their clients. And some people call this government 'socialist'.