Private companies are failing to deliver effective services

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By Una Murphy

Inequality in Britain is now back to the 1840s, it has been claimed at a recent event held in Belfast.

Michael Pyer from Developments Trusts NI told the group’s first policy symposium that in some areas of Britain creeping privatisation had followed the grounding down of local government services.

The meeting had been called to discuss development issues within the Third Sector (Voluntary, Community, Social Enterprise).

Delegates heard that big private companies often failed to deliver effective services – such as G4S at the London Olympics.

Neil Berry from Locality in England said there was a huge spend by the public sector on multinationals such as G4S, ATOS, SERCO and CAPITA but local community organisations could provide more effective services as well as save money.

John Little from Vanguard Consulting, who has worked with the Housing Executive in Northern Ireland, the biggest social housing provider in Europe, said: “This is not a crisis of funding it is a crisis of thinking”. He said: “The message is cut, cut, cut – it’s like buying a race horse and cutting two legs off and saying it is going to win the Derby. It’s not going to happen.”

Mr Little said a challenge must be made to politicians and policy makers “Do you want to save the day – carpe diem – or do you want to sit there?”

He added that the emphasis should be on providing effective and efficient services. “The more you try to save the more it costs.”

Alasdair McKinley from the Scottish Government and Wendy Reid from the Development Trusts Association Scotland said a minister for local government and community empowerment and a pilot programme ‘Strengthening Communities’ had given local communities in Scotland more power.

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