Letter: Jobs purge plan for Civil Service

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The Independent Online
He is equally correct when he states that the Civil Service is 'littered with policies that do not work' - and pride of place among these is reserved for market testing. It will end up costing taxpayers more than in-house provision, with poorer quality service and less accountability.

Where Sir Peter Kemp is wrong is in apparently believing that something has 'gone hopelessly awry', from the Government's point of view. It is hardly surprising that market testing has become 'solely identified with a cost saving jobs purge' when that was precisely the Government's intention. More efficient management and higher quality service never really figured in the Government's calculations.

In the early days of the Next Steps programme, my union predicted that, regardless of Sir Peter Kemp's claims about better management, agency status would be the first step towards privatisation. Nigel Lawson let the cat out of the bag in his memoirs when he bluntly stated: 'The most practical advantage I see is that by creating accounts, boards of directors and saleable assets, future privatisation might prove less difficult.'

Last week the first agency was sold off. A number of others are under consideration, including the Patent Office, Companies House, the National Engineering Laboratory and the Vehicle Inspectorate.

There will be no end to the 'crisis' identified by Sir Peter until both ministers and mandarins accept that privatisation and contracting out of central government services is inappropriate, a false economy, and damages both the quality of service and the accountability of government to Parliament.

Yours sincerely,

JOHN SHELDON

General Secretary

The National Union of Civil and Public Servants

London, SE1

15 November

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