COLUMN: Failed Privatisation

The following appeared as my column in the Barnsley Chronicle on 1st February:

Recently I raised the issue of army recruitment in Parliament, and the drop in numbers joining our forces.

I wanted to challenge the Government ministers in charge of our army to explain why this is the case.

Because recent statistics show that in the last quarter available, the private company in charge of the recruitment process failed to bring in 90 per cent of the recruits the British army needs.

In Barnsley army recruitment fell by over half since 2015 – just 29 people joined up in the last year.

But not only is this private company, Capita, failing in their vital role to provide enough recruits to keep our army strong, they’re being paid handsomely by this government to do so – to the tune of almost £500m.

But unfortunately, Capita’s failings and the Government’s wasting of tax payers’ money is just the latest example of Ministers’ continued obsession with outsourcing and privatisation that has resulted in so many costly errors.

In our transport system, for example, the privatisation of our rail services has seen prices for Barnsley’s commuters skyrocket whilst carriages are increasingly aged, cramped, and late.

And just last year, the government was forced to terminate the private contract it had granted for the East Coast Mainline after its operators could no longer afford the costs they had promised – but not before handily writing off the remaining £2bn the companies had promised the taxpayer.

In our justice system, the Government was forced to take over the privately run HMP Birmingham after the company it was outsourced to, G4S, failed to run it safely.

And notably, around this time last year the private company Carillion collapsed with debts of £1.5bn when operating 420 public sector contracts, at a staggering cost to the taxpayer.

Example after example shows that this Government’s fixation with outsourcing and privatisation fails at great expense to taxpayers here in Barnsley.

Whether it’s our vital public services like the NHS that keep us healthy and safe, or matters of national security in our army like I brought up in Parliament, it’s time services were ran by this Government in the interests of the public, not private profit.