Monday, 15 February 2010

Watching the world of social care at the moment is like watching a firework display. Ideas shoot into the sky painting it with colourful visions which last the briefest of moments before sliding into intangibility trapped within memory whilst the embers meet the embrace of the November mud.

Today the Conservatives fired their rocket into the sky. Headlines were set alight by the
spectacle of the Tories… yes the Tories… outlining plans for workers co-operatives in delivering public-services.

The use of the term workers co-operative, a term associated more with the political left was designed to make a big bang, but is it really as un-tory as it looks? If we cast aside the practical implication, which some commentators feel present serious questions, and concentrate on the core elements it begins to look very, very Tory and presents the real vision of the changes which will be made by a Tory government.

Looking at the heart of the plans it seems the Tories still harbour a hatred of centralised bureaucracies and feel that Labour, although continuing the work of the Thatcher and Major years, has not gone far enough, fast enough or been nearly radical enough.

An interesting concept I learnt at uni this week is the idea that privitisation is not a binary of public/private provision but there are degrees between the poles and three elements, provision, funding, and regulation: for example the state may not provide a service, such as residential care, but will regulate and/or fund it. IB’s interestingly represent a further move towards pure private as regulation becomes almost impossible in such a fragmented market.

But, this aside when we think of privitisation what has happened so far has only been a very few tentative steps into the woods, the state still retains the real power of funding and regulation. The building blocks are there. foundation hospitals, city academies, will the state remove the regulatory framework in favour of a market mechanism where the logic dictates that greater choice will mean poor providers will be unable to survive?

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