Friday, 23 September 2011

Can the welfare state withstand the global storm?

Blimey! What is going on in the global economy? All this talk of double dips and lost decades (or is that just Shaun Ryder)is actually starting to make me worried now. No better make that terrified.

I'm also beginning to look for a job and have been astonished at the sheer number of people competing for positions. One recent post I applied for, nothing glam at all, had 180 applicants eagerly snapping away like some tabloid feeding frenzy.

What makes me worried is how will the welfare state, weakened by three decades of neo-liberal attacks hold out? Will it be shown to be woefully inadiquate and as easily overrun as the Maginot line?

Is the big society rhetoric like some eerie harbinger of a return to when Victorian liberal capitalism smashed its way unrestrained through lives as nonchelantly as the wind whipping autumn leaves into a swirling menace.

I suspect we'll be finding out soon.

Thursday, 22 September 2011

PFI - Who didn't see this one coming?

I've just read a piece on the BBC website about the strain repaying PFI projects is putting on the budget of NHS Trusts.

There is of course some political point-scoring going on, but honestly who can say that they didn't see this coming? PFI was obviously an ill-conceived idea from the beginning with controversy engulfing one of the first PFI's the Skye Bridge project which George Monbiot pointed to in his widely read 2001 Book 'Captive State; The Corporate Take Over of Britain'

Now the doubters have been proved right, but governments and local authorities still shock in their ability not to take heed of the facts when it comes to policy.

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

RIP Local Government

I've just read in my local rag today that my local authority will be joining forces with another local council to provide services. Is this an issue? The reason is to save money, presumably through economies of scale so win-win?

What about local democracy though? The Authority I worked for only a couple of years back is barely recognisable today. Yes there's still a grand old building slap bang in the middle of the City, but it's emptying out fast. In Social Care the in-house provider has been scaled down and care homes sold off to BUPA, Housing benefit claims are now administered in Bromley, legal services and licencing are shared with a neighbouring authority and now there's plans on the table to merge services with yet another authority.

All this means people just don't know who runs what or who is responsible for what. In these new organisations opaqueness replaces transparency whilst democratically elected councillors seem increasingly irrelevant, just how much influence can they have over services in these public-private-voluntary sector hybrid super-councils? How much say do we have as voters? Or are we no longer voters, but simply customers?