Tag Archives: private

Johnson’s government has spent £100 million on consultants because he can’t think for himself

Spaffer: Boris Johnson has thrown so much money at private consultants and contractors that the UK’s financial stability is in peril.

The cost of privatisation: faced with the Covid-19 pandemic, Boris Johnson has paid consultants more than £100 million to do his thinking for him – and the cash has been wasted.

Clearly it’s money for old rope, considering the failure of every policy announced by Johnson and his cronies including Matt Hancock, Gavin Williamson and Dominic Raab.

And the waste is very clearly a result of privatisation; before Tory neoliberalism demanded that even ideas should be outsourced, governments used to rely on people called civil servants who spent their entire careers in public service and could therefore be relied on to know how things worked.

Those people have been largely ostracised, retired or otherwise cast out by know-nothings like David Cameron, Theresa May and now Johnson, in favour of their know-nothing friends in the private sector. Here’s the gist from the Financial Times:

The UK’s largest consulting firms have been paid more than £100m to advise the government on its response to the coronavirus pandemic, according to a string of delayed disclosures from Whitehall in recent weeks. A total of 106 contracts worth £109m have been agreed between various government departments and consulting firms such as PwC, Deloitte and McKinsey since March, as civil servants scrambled for support to source personal protective equipment, set up test and trace programmes and acquire thousands of new ventilators as the pandemic gathered pace.

The UK’s public finances are now in a terrible state after Johnson and his people awarded huge contracts to firms that were incapable of honouring them – some of which even turned out to be dormant companies – on the advice of firms like PwC, Deloitte and McKinsey. Weren’t these people supposed to be cheaper than doing the work in-house?

The government has been mired in scandal because it adopted a biased algorithm to award ‘A’ level results, on the advice of an outsourced consultancy firm.

It’s a well known adage that the definition of madness is doing the same thing again and again and expecting different results.

And yet we see Johnson going back to these private consultants for more advice.

Why aren’t we all drawing the obvious conclusion?

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Covid test waiting time soars as IT failure hits private ‘lighthouse’ testing lab

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Matt Hancock: this is the brain-dead nincompoop who thought it would be a good idea to let private companies try to make a profit from a deadly pandemic virus. Nothing works properly and we all remain in deadly danger six months after Covid-19 arrived in the UK.

Once again private profiteers have failed the people of the UK.

An “IT systems failure” at a ‘Lighthouse’ mega-laboratory in Cheshire “resulted in a delay to the processing of results,” the government said.

“In addition, the increase of tests across all routes has resulted in backlogs in some laboratories.”

The labs were built in April, in a partnership between the Department of Health and Social Care, Medicines Discovery Catapult, UK Biocentre and the University of Glasgow, supported by pharma companies GSK and AstraZeneca.

It means just seven per cent of people who took a test at a “satellite centre” got their results within 48 hours in the week to August 12 – down from 75 per cent two weeks earlier.

And only 28 per cent of people who were posted home testing kits got the result within 48 hours – down from 72 per cent.

This is what happens when you commit the health of the nation to the hands of people who want to make a profit from it: nothing works.

Source: New coronavirus chaos as test result waiting times soar due to IT malfunction – Mirror Online

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The great water privatisation disaster: Tory scheme means England could run out of drinking water

There’s a line in one of the Horatio Hornblower books in which the Admiral of the Fleet tells the young hero it’s every officer’s duty to leave the navy in better condition than when he found it.

That’s a good philosophy for any organisation.

What a shame the Conservatives don’t have the same philosophy – about anything at all.

In particular, we see their actual philosophy – “sell it off and ruin it” – in action in the UK’s water industry, which was privatised by the Thatcher government in 1989.

A new report by Parliament’s public accounts committee states that privatisation has been such an catastrophe that there is a serious risk that parts of England will run out of water altogether within the next 20 years.

The report says that “ponderous” water companies – 70 per cent of which are now owned by foreign businesses – have made “no progress” in reducing leakage meaning that more than three billion litres of water leaks out of the system every single day.

That’s one-fifth of the UK’s daily supply!

The committee says the Department of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) has failed to provide enough leadership in telling the private companies how to balance investment in infrastructure and reducing customer bills, but This Writer thinks that is nonsense.

The private companies are neither investing in infrastructure nor cutting costs – they are literally draining us dry.

We pay too much for the water we get and the lack of investment in the UK system by its foreign owners means soon we won’t even get it!

This is a problem entirely created by the Conservatives with their ridiculous lie that private firms are more efficient, more economical, and cost the consumer less. They aren’t, they aren’t and they don’t.

And by letting these firms fall into the hands of foreign business people, it seems our money is being invested into the systems in their own countries, rather than in ours. It’s certainly boosting the treasuries of the countries where these firms are based in tax – rather than our own.

This is an English problem.

Scotland receives its supply from the publicly-owned company Scottish Water, which is the most trusted public utility in the UK. It constantly invests in its system, keeps customers happy – and paying less, and is even reducing its carbon footprint.

In Wales, three million people get their supply from the not-for-profit firm Glas Cymru/Welsh Water which, according to surveys, has sector-leading levels of customer satisfaction.

Customers in Northern Ireland do not pay water charges to their publicly-owned water supplier, Northern Ireland Water.

England is less lucky.

Anglian Water is owned by a consortium consisting of Canada Pension Plan Investment BoardColonial First State Global Asset ManagementIFM Investors and 3i.

Northumbrian Water is owned by Cheung Kong Infrastructure Holdings.

Southern Water is owned by a consortium called Greensands Holdings Limited, comprising  JP Morgan Asset Management (40%), UBS Asset Management (22%), Hermes Infrastructure Funds (21%) and Whitehelm Capital (8%).

Wessex Water is owned by a Malaysian firm, YTL Corporation.

Affinity Water is part-owned by US firm Morgan Stanley.

Bristol Water is part-owned by Japanese Itochu corporation.

South East Water is part-owned by Utilities Trust of Australia.

And Sutton and East Surrey Water is owned by the Japanese Sumitomo Corporation.

Other water firms are still UK-based – and some are only part foreign-owned.

Across the board, bills have increased by 40 per cent on average. Considering the efforts made by the publicly-owned/not-for-profit firms, it’s likely that some English customers have suffered much higher hikes.

Shareholders have received at least £56 billion since privatisation in 1989.

Six water companies have been found to be avoiding millions in tax.

Water makes big money.

But you can see that most of it has been going abroad.

It certainly hasn’t been used to plug any leaks!

The message is clear: public ownership is cheaper, more efficient, and guarantees that customers’ taps won’t run dry.

It seems the private shareholders are swimming in cash while ensuring that, in a very short time, you die of thirst.

Source: England faces “serious risk of running out of water within 20 years” – Committees – UK Parliament

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Expert legal advice supports law graduate in crowdfunded private prosecution of Dominic Cummings

Mahsa Taliefar: there is a case against Dominic Cummings and she needs your help to take it to court.

Dominic Cummings could find himself facing an unlimited fine for breaching the Covid-19 lockdown after expert lawyers said there is a case against him.

Law graduate Mahsa Taliefar launched a funding campaign to help her bring a private prosecution against Cummings over his now-notorious trip to Durham at the end of March this year.

She sought legal advice from Benjamin Douglas-Jones QC and Nathaniel Rudolf on the practicalities of bringing a prosecution.

Their opinion is that he could indeed be prosecuted under Regulation 6 of the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (England) Regulations 2020
Prosecutions.

These state that “during the emergency period, no person may leave the place where they are living without reasonable excuse”.

The lawyers’ advice states: “The published guidance… in our view reinforces the conclusion that there is a realistic prospect of conviction in relation to this conduct.”

The penalty, if such a conviction is won, would be an unlimited fine.

Concerns had been raised that Regulation 11 of the same law prevents private prosecution. It states: “Proceedings for an offence under these Regulations may be brought by the Crown Prosecution Service and any person designated by the Secretary of State.

The advice states: “At first blush this may be seen as preventing a prosecution by anyone other than the CPS or a person designated by the Secretary of State. In other words preventing a private prosecution.

“The regulation is not drafted with any precision: a literal (and absurd) reading would be in that in the absence of anyone designated by the Secretary of State the CPS may not prosecute.

“It seems to us that… permitting the Secretary of State to designate people who can prosecute the section simply clarifies that this does not oust the ability of the CPS to do the same. It does not go further.

“If Regulation 11 were to be read as excluding private prosecutors, it would also exclude the police from prosecuting, unless the police were designated by the Secretary of State as persons who can prosecute. As far as we can tell no such designation has taken place.

“Our view is that the Regulation 11 is sufficiently clear so as not to warrant, at this stage, our consideration of whether the right to bring a private prosecution had been prevented by its language. A private prosecution may be classed as a ‘constitutional’ right founded in statute (or common law). It would require the most explicit language to extinguish that right.”

So not only could Cummings face a large fine if found guilty of breaching the regulations, but it seems entirely possible that a private prosecution may be launched against him, in order to ensure that he does so.

As This Site has already reported, Ms Taliefar is already crowdfunding for this purpose and her site may be found here.

If you agree that Cummings should be brought to book, feel free to contribute to the fund.

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Law graduate launches private prosecution bid against Dominic Cummings. Will you help fund it?

Mahsa Taliefar: she has already received abuse from supporters of Dominic Cummings. Have a guess at their reasons – then scroll down through the article to see if you’re right.

How will the populist, propagandist supporters of our far-right government de-legitimise Mahsa Taliefar, the 25-year-old law graduate who wants to take Dominic Cummings to court?

Well, for a start she has a foreign-sounding name (her background is Iranian), so obviously she’ll be trying to harm all good, right(-wing)-thinking British people, right?

And from the photograph she’s physically attractive, so she’ll be talked down as a know-nothing bimbo (qualifications notwithstanding).

Undoubtedly Gina Miller will be able to provide advice on some of the other ways.

Oh hey! It’s already happening:

She has … been targeted by abuse and misogynistic comments from Dominic Cummings’ supporters on social media.

“I have been subjected to nasty comments about my facial features and hairstyle,” she said.

“There have also been many Cummings supporters who have suggested that the money may be going towards aesthetic lip fillers and hair maintenance.

“I find this totally unacceptable. This campaign has nothing to do with my gender or looks. Many people supporting Dominic Cummings have also aggressively told me to ‘move on’ – but we should not until he does.”

Ms Taliefar – like those of us who know right from wrong – was incensed by Cummings’s decision to ignore lockdown rules and drive off to Durham with his wife and son.

These feelings were undoubtedly aggravated by his decision to (again) ignore rules – this time relating to government advisers – to hold a press conference in which he defended his behaviour.

So she has launched a funding campaign to help her launch a private prosecution against Cummings.

“It was like Dominic Cummings was spitting in the face of everyone who adhered to the lockdown,” she said.

“People were not able to see their families and friends and were not even able to bury their loved ones and grieve properly.

“This is because we were all following the laws that were put into place to protect the public.

“Dominic Cummings had a direct hand in the making of those Covid laws and I was extremely offended when he didn’t even apologise for breaking the rules – he seemed very arrogant and there were people in government standing by him.”

She makes good points about the insult Cummings’s behaviour represents to people from black and minority ethnic backgrounds:

Mahsa, who is from an Iranian background, says Dominic Cummings’ behaviour is also a kick in the teeth for people from Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) communities who have been harder hit by coronavirus and are more likely to die of it.

“People from ethnic minority backgrounds are affected more by this virus and have less money and resources and are less likely to have powerful friends and connections,” she said. “Everything Dominic Cummings has, most people from ethnic minorities don’t.

“That makes me angry as when people from ethnic minorities are disproportionately affected by coronavirus, why should someone well off and more powerful put other people’s lives at risk by breaking his own laws?

“People from ethnic minority backgrounds also tend to have more people in our households and a lot of families have grandparents living with them. So it is really difficult for these communities to understand why someone like Dominic Cummings would travel so far and potentially put his parents at risk.”

Ms Taliefar reckons it will cost £300,000 to take a lawsuit all the way – and any funds not used for the private prosecution will be donated to Vision Aid Overseas – a charity dedicated to helping those with eyesight problems.

Here’s that GoFundMe campaign address again. With no interest in justice from the government, it seems this is the best way to get it.

Source: Law Graduate Pursues Private Prosecution Of ‘Arrogant’ Dominic Cummings | HuffPost UK

What kind of government lets a private firm run its PPE stockpile – and sell it?

PPE: The UK’s is on the bottom right. Now you know why it has been so diabolically awful.

The UK’s Tory government.

The UK’s stockpile of personal protective equipment (PPE) for use in a pandemic…  has been outsourced to a private company, Movianto, which was sold two weeks ago for $133m (£107m) by its owner, a large US healthcare group.

Lunacy.

No wonder NHS staffers were reduced to wearing bin bags and re-using single-use items.

We need an independent inquiry into the government’s decisions before and during the pandemic – and how private enterprise contributed to the calamity.

Source: Revealed: Private firm running UK PPE stockpile was sold in middle of pandemic | World news | The Guardian

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There may be fewer private landlords – but they are fleecing us more than ever

The number of private landlords in the UK has shrunk to a seven-year low, according to The Independent.

But that just means that the millions of privately-rented properties are in fewer hands – so those who are left can charge more, it seems to me.

The evidence seems to prove this assumption correct, as private rents have risen to £998 per month.

That’s a lot of money, considering most of us only earn around £12-13,000 a year.

Oh, and do you get more for your money, in terms of repairs and upgrades to the quality of the property?

No. 

Figures from the English Housing Survey in 2017 showed that private landlords letting homes that contain a serious hazard or have fallen into a poor state of repair trouser £2.3 billion in housing benefit annually.

Repeated attempts to pass legislation forcing such landlords to honour their responsibilities have failed – and it has been suggested that this is because many Conservative MPs are themselves private landlords.

Source: Number of private landlords ‘shrinks to seven-year low’ | The Independent

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Private employment agencies are making a killing by paying nurses a pittance

What do you think of this little racket?

Remember when the Conservative government introduced privatisation into NHS procurement? It means the health service in England can hire nurses from private agencies.

There is a shortage of nurses, meaning that agencies like Thornbury Nursing can pretty much ask whatever price they fancy, and NHS England will have to pay.

The agency then pays its nurses less than half of what it charged the NHS – making the work unattractive to all but those who are most desperate for cash, and perpetuating the staffing crisis.

Here’s the punchline: Thornbury Nursing is run by a private equity fund owned by a major donor to the Conservative Party.

I’m not saying this person pulled strings to ensure that a situation developed from which they could profit.

I don’t have any information either way.

But if that isn’t what’s happening, why doesn’t this company either lower its charge, or increase the amount it pays its nurses?

Source: Private agencies paying workers less than half what they charge NHS to hire – Mirror Online

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Letdown on rail accessibility for disabled people shows the Tories’ are still siding with big business

David Cameron (remember him?) vowed to remove Northern Rail’s infamous Pacer trains – bus frames mounted on train wheels as a “stopgap” measure more than 30 years ago – way back in 2014. A total of 180 Pacers will now remain in use, because the current Tory government has been too weak to stand up to big business.

The Conservatives’ recent election manifesto stated that the UK didn’t need to renationalise the rail network; it just needed to make it accountable. What a shame that won’t happen.

It is the second failed promise within days of the Conservatives being returned to office after the election. So far, they have not delivered on any of their commitments.

The rail letdown concerns accessibility for disabled people.

Private rail firms were given 10 years to make all trains accessible for people with disabilities – 10 years ago. They are not going to meet the January 1, 2020 deadline.

But instead of holding the privateers to account for their failure, the Tories have ripped up the deadline and granted no fewer than 10 companies permission to breach the new accessibility standards.

Remember that rail fares have skyrocketed since privatisation, with most of the money going to subsidise the large – nationalised – rail industries of other European countries that own our private railways.

According to The Independent:

The new plan is for the carriages to be replaced between April and next December – a full year’s delay – although it is unclear how achievable those new deadlines will be.

The minister’s letter says: “Despite such a significant period of time for the rail industry to prepare, I understand that were all non-compliant trains removed from service there would be a disproportionately negative effect on the provision of services for passengers.

“Thus I have reluctantly agreed to issue strictly time-limited dispensation notices to a number of operators for around 1,200 carriages in the national fleet.”

Truth is, the rail firms can always say there would be a “disproportionately negative effect” on passenger services if the non-compliant trains were taken out of service – and never replace them.

And what will the Tories do about it? Roll over and extend the deadline again.

It is as Labour’s transport spokesman Andy McDonald said: “You cannot believe a word they say.”

Source: Deadline to make trains accessible for disabled ripped up in Boris Johnson’s first ‘broken promise’ since election win | The Independent

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Family can’t afford one-bedroom flat despite full-time work in Tory Britain. Time for a change

Tory tragedy: The Conservatives have created a housing crisis. Can Labour end it?

The Conservatives keep telling us work is the way out of poverty, but in the run-up to the election, let’s remember that they have put an end to all that.

Consider the plight of Penny Sterling, who lives with her husband Garrett and 8 month old baby, Daniel in a one-bedroom flat in Richmond.

They privately rent a one bedroom flat but struggle to cover the rent and have had to borrow from family members, despite Garrett’s full time job at a major UK airport.

She says the rent takes up most of the family income and says she “hasn’t got a clue how people worse off than us even feed their families”.

So much for the Tory claim that they’ve been “making work pay”!

Oh, and Penny had to give up her own job in a care home because the cost of child care in Tory London would have put her in even deeper financial trouble than her family is already suffering.

The Tories have said they will make £1 billion available to fund affordable childcare places – but this is over several years and they do not say who would qualify or whether it would be paid to local authorities or individuals.

So much for the Tory claim to be improving access to child care!

Meanwhile, homelessness charity Shelter has published research showing that families are paying £11 billion more than they can afford on rent.

This indicates that Tory “social cleansing” – forcing poor people to move out of areas by making it unaffordable for them to stay – is still in progress.

The Sterlings have said they would consider moving as far as Bracknell – but this would trigger high commuting costs.

And it is possible that they would move into a situation that is just as bad, if they end up renting from another private landlord.

Their current property is in extreme need of repair, and so could any other privately-rented abode.

Labour is proposing a scheme to stop landlords from forcing tenants to pay extortionate rents while refusing to carry out repairs – under it, they would have to sell properties to tenants.

So, if you’re a private tenant, it seems clear that Labour is the party for you in the general election. Right?

Source: Family who can’t afford 1 bed flat show bleak reality of Britain’s housing crisis – Mirror Online

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The Livingstone Presumption is now available
in either print or eBook format here:

HWG PrintHWG eBook

Health Warning: Government! is now available
in either print or eBook format here:

HWG PrintHWG eBook

The first collection, Strong Words and Hard Times,
is still available in either print or eBook format here:

SWAHTprint SWAHTeBook