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After the Olympics scandal, now it turns out G4S and Serco have been charging us for work they haven't done...

(11 Posts)
edam Thu 11-Jul-13 14:23:22

[ Mail link but]] seems G4S and Serco have been charging us for electronic tagging of people who weren't tagged, or who were dead, or in prison...

Do you think the government might work out that contracting out is sometimes a bad idea, and doing things in the public sector is sometimes cheaper/better value..? (Yeah, I know, pipedream - doesn't matter what the facts are, ideology rules.)

edam Thu 11-Jul-13 14:23:41 better link hopefully!

CogitoErgoSometimes Thu 11-Jul-13 17:20:01

Public sector requires armies of regulators, inspectors and other checking mechanisms but still we get people abused in hospitals, kids murdered by people approved by Social Services, public servants on the fiddle, etc. There's no 'perfect' system and there have to be checks and balances whether the expenditure is contracted out or handled by a government department.

LoveSewingBee Thu 11-Jul-13 18:26:31

Private sector firms are profit motivated and therefore have a strong incentive to earn as much as possible. We have seen it with the banks, the energy companies, etc. etc. TBH I am not surprised at all.

LoveSewingBee Thu 11-Jul-13 18:30:15

And the public sector only need regulators if the private sector is involved. If services are wholly provided by the public sector like many services in France then there is no need for an independent regulator. This is another hidden cost of all the privatisations ... The massive cost of oversight and the strong incentive for private firms to hide bad behaviour from the regulator. This information asymmetry between regulator and firm(s) makes effective regulation very difficult and costly.

CogitoErgoSometimes Fri 12-Jul-13 07:29:21

You're not seriously trying to say that if an organisation is entirely run by civil servants, there don't have to be any independent checks and balances on its spending or other activities? If we applied that to something like the Metropolitan Police, they'd be even more out of control than they currently are.

hackmum Fri 12-Jul-13 08:28:40

Obviously you need to regulate both the public and private sectors. In fact you sometimes need to regulate the regulator, as the recent case involving the Care Quality Commission demonstrates.

However, I do get frustrated at this constant mantra about how much more efficient the private sector is than the public, particularly now they're talking about privatising the Royal Mail. It's nonsense.

limitedperiodonly Fri 12-Jul-13 11:29:41

I'm willing to accept that a private company might be able to do this job well.

Just not G4S and Serco, who have failed on a number of occasions.

The problem as I understand it is that they are the only companies big enough to handle this kind of contract.

So if you're wedded to the idea that the private sector trumps the public sector every time, you don't have much choice.

Which seems a bit odd, seeing as we're always being told that choice is a major advantage of using the private sector.

LoveSewingBee Fri 12-Jul-13 12:49:16

In France services offered by government, eg public sector, do not have independent regulators. This makes it very clear who is accountable when something goes wrong. In the UK there tends to be a lot of blaming each other with no one being clearly accountable. Lack of accountability is at the heart of the many governance problems.

Totally agree with limited it is tiresome to always here that the private sector is more efficient. The provision of services crucial to the public, eg energy, healthcare, rail, post, water are not for nothing regarded as public services. I am not aware of any firm evidence that the private sector provides these services more efficiently. Prices have gone up a lot, insufficient investment is taking place in spite of very high prices ( think Ofgem's warning that there is likely going to be a power shortage in the next few years due to lack of investment), customer care is patchy.

EST0106 Sat 13-Jul-13 22:52:58

Did you know that the government wants to privatise the Probation Service and hand out lengthy contracts to private companies, which will likely be serco and G4S as they are the only ones big enough to stomach the initial costs. All this to be complete within 18 months. It's very concerning that soon these companies will supervise our societies most choatic, unpredictable and risky individuals in the community and they can't even seem to get an electronic monitoring tag on an persons correct leg!!

edam Mon 15-Jul-13 23:50:15

YY est, not only that but they can't be bothered to make sure the leg is attached to someone who is actually alive...

The problem is the public sector has been 'outsourced' to three companies - G4S, Serco and Capita. They are creaming huge profits off the taxpayer, often illegitimately - for work they haven't actually done, as in this case. But they are the only companies who are big enough to bid for these contracts. So we've still got the same size of public sector work that needs to be done, just some of it is done a. badly b. expensively c. inefficiently by private companies who appear to be entirely unaccountable.

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