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UK Probation services to be renationalised

The supervision of all offenders will be undertaken by the state in a major renationalisation of the probation sector. Only five years after introducing a widely derided programme of privatisation. Following years of damning criticism from MPs, inspectorates and former probation officers, the justice secretary, David Gauke, has decided to bring all offender management under the National Probation Service (NPS) by spring 2021. He said the private sector would still play a part in the provision of services, with £280m worth of contracts for rehabilitation services such as the provision of unpaid work and accredited programmes. But the core function of the service – supervising and managing about 250,000 offenders in the community – will once again be publicly provided.

Source: the Guardian

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Ending Bandit Capitalism: Learning the lessons following Carillion’s collapse

The UK public services union Unite has published an in-depth report on the collapse of the government outsourcing company Carillion. “Carillion’s approach to bidding for these contracts underlines the inherent problem with successive government’s mania for outsourcing. The company which provides the lowest bid is awarded the contract, creating a race to the bottom where all the quality is cut from a contract with the wages of staff and their conditions being seen as a prime area to chop. In many cases the low bid is a deliberate gamble as the company hopes to make healthy profits from additional services required by the client outside of the contract.”

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The Privatised Water Industry in the UK. An ATM for investors

This paper aims to critically evaluate the privatised water & sewage industry in England. We find that the public-owned sector in Scotland delivers the service just as efficiently, albeit at a lower cost to consumers. Our econometric analysis suggests that the 40% increase in real household bills since privatisation was mainly driven by continuously growing interest payments on debt, contrary to the regulator attributing them to growing costs and investments. Finally, we show that the accelerating debt levels are primarily the result of disproportionate dividend pay-outs, which exceeded the privatised companies’ cash balances in all but one year since 1989. We conclude that the way the industry operates may no longer be sustainable and seems to disadvantage consumers greatly without their knowledge, as there is a fog of misleading statements by the companies and the regulator.

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From Transactions to Changemaking: Rethinking Partnerships between the Public and Private Sectors

This report published by the New Local Government Network (NLGN) is a new voice to the debate on the role of the private sector in the delivery of public services. While the current debate remains unhelpfully polarised along party lines, we argue that partnerships between the public and private sectors must fundamentally change – from an approach that is primarily transactional in nature, to one that is changemaking.

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Selling space - Britain's public spaces going private

When strolling in parks and squares, you could be forgiven for thinking that they are all publicly owned. But more and more public spaces are being bought by private companies and although the public is still allowed to use them, there are restrictions. We speak to Will Self and the Conservative MP for Croydon South - Chris Philp - a member of the Treasury Select Committee.