Tuesday 4 March 2014


The Government is very keen on creating public sector mutuals, they have even set up a unit within the Cabinet Office to oversee a £10m programme.

"Why have the Tories suddenly become interested in 'mutuals'" i hear you ask, "surely they can't be seriously interested in promoting the co-operative and collective spirit?" Well the following definition, from their website, might give you a clue;

"A public service mutual is an organisation which has left the public sector (also known as ‘spinning out’) but continues to deliver public services"

Has it become any clearer? They are interested in shrinking the state and 'spinning out' or outsourcing or privatising as many public services as they can in order to do so. It's not a 'road to Damascus' moment when they suddenly say "we need to embrace worker control for the good of society" it's a cynical and ideological attempt to shrink the state and to introduce more private finance and risk into public services at the same time making more money for themselves and their mates who just happen to control/own most of the private finance. And private finance has to be serviced which means more outsourcing, privatisation, procurement and commercialisation. Clever eh?

Add to this concerns about democratic member control, privatisation and democratic accountability and sustainability and you might start to see why I'm, and the unions are, not exactly jumping up and down with joy when to hear about York Libraries and Archives going down this route. And the incredible thing is that all this is being pushed through to save a paltry £450K over 3 years, that's the councillors fag money! And oh yes i forgot to mention that they've received £100k from the governement to do this! 

"But isn't it better than closing libraries and staff losing their jobs or handing them over to volunteers?"

To be honest I'm fed up with this response, it suggests that as a profession, service and society we are happy to except that 'anything is better than nothing', even when it's a crucial public service that we have spent decades fighting to improve and sustain and that we already pay for.

I can fully understand the passion and commitment of the staff involved and wouldn't like to be in their position but just like communities forced to take on the running of libraries it's a gun to the head. The management, council and government will try to spin it as being 'innovative' but really it's a desperate response to savage ideological cuts.


1 comment:

  1. Many are being run by the local Communities but they can become a co-op and take over most of them.
    Mina - Leicester.