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Public Services Monitor

Public Services Monitor is an email newsletter from EPSU that includes articles with examples of national, regional and local initiatives to defend public services, prevent privatisation or to bring services back under public management and control.

UK: Campaigning for public services and against privatisation

(August 2013) "We own it" is a new campaigning group set up in the UK to argue for public services and challenge the idea that the private sector can do things more efficiently and effectively. A key element of the campaign is a call to introduce legislation - a Public Service Users Bill - to protect and promote high quality and accountable public services. Why privatisation doesn’t work The "We own it" website provides a range of useful sources for arguments in favour of public services (...)

Finland: municipalities bring services back in-house

(August 2013) A survey by the Soste social sector organisation aimed at senior employees in the mainly municipal social and health care sector, found more than a third saying that during the last two years their municipalities have been taking back some outsourced services. The most common reasons for this remunicipalisation are the benefits to be derived in terms of price and quality. Services provided by the municipal themselves are seen as better than private services especially when it (...)

Europe: how outsourcing waste public resources

(August 2013) A new report by the LO trade union confederation in Norway puts together research evidence that concludes that competitive tendering of public services delivers neither lower costs nor better services. Analysing a range of international research data, the report highlights the costs associated with planning tenders, monitoring and controlling contracts and how these can add up to a significant proportion of the contract value. The authors also point out that private (...)

Europe: research exposes negative effects of private health

(August 2013) Why private sector health kills more than it cures - countering arguments in favour of privatisation is a briefing paper by the PSIRU research organisation that provides a wealth of data to counter the arguments that are made in favour of health care privatisation. As in other areas of public service, health services across Europe are often confronted with the claim that private provision is more efficient and effective than the public healthcare sector. This briefing paper (...)

Europe: Further evidence on the threat to the quality of public services

(July 2012) Privatisation of public services brings together a number of studies carried out between 2007 and 2009 that examined the impact of privatisation and liberalisation on public employment, productivity and the quality of public services. The "PIQUE" project recognised that public services throughout Europe had undergone dramatic restructuring processes as a result of liberalization and privatization. However, evaluations of these changes had focused on more prices and notions of (...)

Finland: Research challenges claim that privatisation leads to increased efficiency

(July 2012) The results of a four-year research project, "Reforming markets and organizations", challenges a number of dominant ideas about the effects of markets and competition. The project was funded by the Academy of Finland and led by Johan Willner, Professor of Economics at the School of Åbo Akademi. The research looked at how efficiency and effectiveness are defined and found that a publicly-owned organisation may be more effective because it is better at achieving goals that are (...)

UK: the benefits of outsourcing – where’s the evidence?

(July 2012) The university sector in the UK, and some universities in particular, are under pressure to cut costs and to outsource services. In response to this challenge the Working Lives Research Institute (WLRI) at London Metropolitan University has produced a very useful overview of the evidence on outsourcing, arguing that there is little to demonstrate that it delivers on quality. Shared business services outsourcing: progress at work or work in progress? is based on European (...)

Europe: a trend to remunicipalisation?

(July 2012) After many years when privatisation, contracting-out and outsourcing have been the dominant trends across the public services, there is now increasing evidence, particularly in the municipal sector – including water and energy – of trends in the opposite direction. The Public Services International Research Unit (PSIRU) at Greenwich University in London has produced a short briefing for EPSU that looks at the background, the latest evidence and highlights some of the key issues (...)

France: new form of municipal company

(May 2012) Municipalities and departments in France have begun to take advantage of a new form of public company to replace privatised services with public provision. Legislation adopted in 2010 with all-party support, enables two or more communes or municipalities to create a ‘local public company’ (société publique locale - SPL), 100% owned by public authorities, to carry out local public services, without the need to invite tenders from private companies. The new French law includes two (...)

Germany: public enterprise success in Cologne

(May 2012) Since the early 2000s public enterprise in Cologne, Germany’s fourth largest City, has undergone a major transformation. This has seen the creation of the country’s largest municipal services consortium and the return into public hands of key public services like waste management. This is in stark contrast to the often flawed and corrupt privatisations, public-private partnerships and cross-border leasings that characterised the City’s services in the 1990s. The Stadtwerke Köln, (...)

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