Commenting on shadow chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster Rachel Reeves MP’s speech on principles for procurement under a Labour Government, Unite national officer Jim Kennedy said: 

“The pandemic brought the Tories’ relentless march to privatise our public services, and the motivations that lie behind it, into sharp relief. 

“For more than a decade, our members in local authorities, and the public sector as a whole, have witnessed services and working conditions being driven into the ground by outsourcing.

“The privatisation of everything – from social care and school meals to council house maintenance and refuse collections – has led to a race to the bottom where profits take precedence over performance. 

“The disastrous collapse of Carillion in 2018, should have put paid to any notion that outsourcing transfers risk to the private sector, and that public sector delivery of vital services is wasteful and inefficient compared to profit driven companies. 

“But during the biggest crisis of our lifetimes, the government has remained grievously committed to outsourcing. 

“The most glaring example of the wastage this has caused are the billions that have been squandered on a centralised test and trace system that is at best ineffectual. At the same time, the local health services and councils best placed to deliver test and trace were completely ignored. 

“Huge mistakes in the delivery of test and trace, as well as the scandals surrounding PPE contracts and free school meals, cannot be written off as an honest but mistaken belief in government of ‘private good, public bad’. 

“It comes as no surprise to those familiar with the government’s dedication to outsourcing, that far too many of the beneficiaries of Covid-related contracts have close ties to the Conservative Party.

“The cronyism that has blighted the government’s pandemic response, and the quality of public services in the years before this terrible virus hit, has to end.

“Unite welcomes Labour’s insourcing proposals, which adds to Unite’s insourcing first policy and the documents we have already published that deliver a robust case for insourcing and how to legislate and campaign to bring our vital public services back in house. 

“We are clear that there should be no profit imperative in the delivery of public services and that our public services must be delivered by the public sector.”


During the coronavirus crisis Unite is working to keep workers and the public safe, to defend jobs and to protect incomes.
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Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest union with members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.