From Daily Mirror: Calamity-prone Tory Chris Grayling has refused to resign despite a damning report into this summer’s rail chaos finding “nobody took charge”.
From The Independent: Private probation companies are being bailed out for a second time as the Tory government prepares to scrap “catastrophic” contracts two years early.
From Morning Star: Bosses of England’s nine private water companies have pocketed £175 million in pay and benefits in the last five years, general union GMB disclosed today.
GMB, which has thousands of members working in the water industry, revealed the pay packages as part of its “Take Back the Tap” campaign, calling for the water industry to be returned to public ownership.
Since water privatisation in 1989, customers’ bills have increased by 40 per cent in real terms.
The union says the industry’s top 54 executives pocketed an enormous £40.3 million in 2017 alone. Executive directors and senior management received an average of £746,296 each in salaries, pension contributions, bonuses and benefits.
From The Independent: The government must overhaul its “mess” of a botched programme to privatise probation that is failing against every measure and may threaten public safety, MPs have said.
From Private Eye: The Ministry of Justice gave a huge £277m bailout to the eight firms running Britain’s failing private probation companies in late July, without announcing the massive deal to either MPs or the public. This big reward for failure is over ten times the £22m bailout already given to the firms in May.
Inspectors have found poor services at the private firms, which have slashed staff and provision. In many cases ex-offenders are interviewed by probation staff over the phone rather than in person.
Editorial from The Guardian: There are few more annoying issues for the great British public than their railways. While some cities and towns have seen stations spruced up, the public suffer from often late, expensive and frequently overcrowded train services. While the cack-handed rollout of infrastructure improvements has led to cancellations and delays on the network, commuters saw ticket prices rise at twice the rate of their wages between 2010 and 2016. Tuesday’s news that rail passengers will be hit by the largest fare hikes in five years next month will do nothing but confirm the view that the public are being taken for a ride. The situation, it seems, is one where private companies reap the benefits, while passengers bear the costs.
There is a good case to return more train operating companies to state hands. Three in four voters, disillusioned by high prices and poor service, back renationalising the railways. Many train lines in Britain are run by state-backed European rail firms. So why not in Britain?
Since Margaret Thatcher privatised our water in 1989, our water bills have gone up by 40% in real terms, while our rivers and natural environments have been poisoned with raw sewage again and again. Of course, tax-dodging CEOs get paid millions.
This short video from We Own It discusses publicly owned water companies overseas, and the costs versus benefits of renationalisation, to show that we can make a better choice.
Privatised water companies have hiked our bills, polluted rivers, killed fish and dodged tax.Scotland and France show that public ownership works!SHARE if you want to take back our water.
Posted by We Own It on Friday, November 17, 2017
From The Independent: Legal action is being taken against Jeremy Hunt and the Department of Health over their proposals to restructure the NHS into a public/private enterprise, which critics say is based upon the US private health insurance-based system.
Jonathan Ford writes in the Financial Times: “How hard can it be to be the chief executive of a privatised British water company? Your customers are determined by geography, your prices set by a regulator… Pretty much all you have to do is to make sure your sewage plants work and to keep the public waterways clear of human waste.
[Read full article on FT website…] (paywalled, but free registration allows access to one free article per month)
From London Evening Standard: An analysis by the Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT) showed that rail fares have risen by around 32 per cent in eight years, while average weekly earnings have only grown by 16 per cent.
From The Independent: An NHS nurse says she is facing a bill of about £150,000 in charges to a private company for parking at the hospital where she works.
From Metro: The cost of running Britain’s railways has increased by £50 billion due to the ‘ill-judged’ break-up of British Rail. Researchers from the University of Essex said that the new system is highly fragmented and inefficient – leading to losses, and higher fares for customers.
From The Guardian: Privatised energy companies are lobbying the Conservative party to water down its policy of a price cap on bills, with proposals that would protect millions fewer UK households from tariff rises.
Theresa May has promised to cap electricity and gas costs for 17 million families on default energy deals, called standard variable tariffs, after five of the big six suppliers increased prices. But under a compromise that has been put to the government, only 6m households would have their energy bills capped.
Private companies with financial links to Tory politicians won NHS contracts worth £1.5bn within three years
Among those highlighted in Unite research is former health secretary Andrew Lansley, the chief architect of the 2012 Health and Social Care Act dubbed “the death of the NHS as we know it”. Lansley received a donation of £21,000 from Caroline Nash, the wife of John Nash, in 2009. At the time John Nash was chairman of Care UK, one of the UK’s largest health companies, which, according to Unite, won more than £650m in NHS contracts between 2012-2014.
From Another Angry Voice: “When the Tories were introducing their ideologically driven and hopelessly botched plan to privatise the UK rail network the Tory Transport Secretary John MacGregor claimed that passengers would benefit from reduced fares.
“Anyone who understood the basics of monopolies (captive markets) knew that MacGregor’s promises were fantastical nonsense. Once a monopoly service is handed to a private profit-seeking entity, prices are certain to rise because there’s no price competition in a captive market.
“Two decades after rail privatisation the average train fare has increased by 117% (24% adjusted for inflation). On some journeys fares have increased by well over 200%.
“Aside from the direct hit to passengers’ wallets, there’s also the fact that the private rail operators are being showered with £billions in direct and indirect taxpayer subsidies.
“Annual direct subsidies to the private rail franchises far exceed the entire cost of running the entire UK rail network back when it was run as a not-for-profit public service.”
Former Tory Transport Secretary admits there is a basic problem with the way railways are privatised
From The Independent: A former Tory Transport Secretary has said the Government must address the “fundamental anachronism” of train services and the rail track they run on being given to separate bodies to operate.
Britain’s only publicly owned railway delivered record performance for passengers before Tory sell-off
From Daily Mirror: Britain’s only publicly owned railway was delivering all-time record levels of punctuality before it was flogged off by the Tory Government last year. Passenger satisfaction was also at an “all-time record” for any long-distance line, and the railway also made more than £1 billion for the Treasury before the line was privatised in May 2015.