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From The Socialist newspaper, 4 December 2004

Private hands off public services

London Unison demonstration last yearPRIVATE FINANCE Initiative (PFI) deals have always been extremely profitable for private contractors. But recent reports show what a bad deal it's been for public services such as the NHS and how much greedy private companies use it to fill up their coffers.

Roger Shrives

Look at hospital building. The Norfolk and Norwich (N&N) Hospital was rebuilt under the PFI. It was supposed to cost 229 million but the full price has now been calculated at 1.16 billion over the 35 years of N&N's contract with private consortium Octagon Healthcare.

Stories like this have convinced the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) that PFI schemes cost health trusts more than any other former government schemes. The ACCA report looked into N&N and 12 other hospitals.

Now the National Audit Office (NAO) want to look more closely at how many PFI projects are being sold off between contractors, yielding huge profits.

PFI schemes worth a capital value of 32 billion are now up and running and PFI investments worth some 700 million have been bought and sold since 1999, mostly over the past two years. All this profit goes to the fat-cat capitalists while the public sector - the source of these profits - gets nothing except their old rip-off deal.

The NAO suggests some form of windfall tax on such profits. But the government disagrees with even this minor palliative. New Labour say that PFI is the only show in town - that there is no alternative.

Unions in the NHS and other public services must fight for the abolition of the PFI and similar privatisation methods. We need public services fully funded from taxation that can provide good quality care to everyone.

These new reports show that the NHS would save enormous sums of money by ditching PFI, and ending the building contractors' profiteering. We should make sure that the PFI profiteers pay for the growing funding problems of the NHS, not the patients and staff who carry the can at present.

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Coronavirus crisis - Finance appeal

The coronavirus crisis has laid bare the class character of society in numerous ways. It is making clear to many that it is the working class that keeps society running, not the CEOs of major corporations.

The results of austerity have been graphically demonstrated as public services strain to cope with the crisis.

The government has now ripped up its 'austerity' mantra and turned to policies that not long ago were denounced as socialist. But after the corona crisis, it will try to make the working class pay for it, by trying to claw back what has been given.

  • The Socialist Party's material is more vital than ever, so we can continue to report from workers who are fighting for better health and safety measures, against layoffs, for adequate staffing levels, etc.
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  • When the health crisis subsides, we must be ready for the stormy events ahead and the need to arm workers' movements with a socialist programme - one which puts the health and needs of humanity before the profits of a few.
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In The Socialist 4 December 2004:

Private hands off public services

Pre-budget statement: Workers will pay for economic failure

NHS not safe in Labour's hands

Blair's election strategy threatens democratic rights

No top-up fees

Fighting fund Christmas appeal


International socialist news and analysis

Ukraine: Neither Yanukovych or Yuschenko

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Save the Jag! Renationalise Jaguar to save jobs

Brighton teaching assistants fight council attacks

DWP needs more experienced staff, not less


 

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