How not to defend public services?
David Cameron has promised that a much anticipated white paper will mark the ‘decisive end of the old-fashioned, top-down, take-what-you’re-given model of public services’. The government want to end the state monopoly and encourage a diverse market of independent providers. While advocates argue that this outsourcing will stimulate innovation, critics see it as little more than an apology for a massive programme of cuts to local services that are already well underway. The government has pledged to save £95bn over the next five years. And yet for all the people on the TUC’s March for the Alternative ‘the public’ are indifferent.
Still, commentators worry about the impact of cuts on the most vulnerable groups. The latest protestors to take to the streets against the cuts - people with disabilities - described themselves as the Hardest Hit. Critics characterize the cuts as an ideological attack on the public sector, and oppose the reforms and cuts to public services as a threat to ’cherished institutions’. But instead of assuming public support, it is perhaps worth asking why public services are worth defending. While the prospect of public sector workers losing their jobs is nothing to celebrate, is the growth of the public sector something we can afford to ignore? And what about those in local government who claim to oppose the cuts, but are busily implementing them anyway? Unless those who oppose the cuts come up with some better arguments, will there be anything left to defend?
Introduced by Dave Clements
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