Neo-liberalism only helps the corporations, nobody else

As Britain’s conservative government embarks on a massive program of privatisation, Britain’s Channel 4 Dispatches discovers that many major multinationals, including Serco and G4S, are doing very nicely, thank you, out of the public cuts:

Channel 4’s Ben Laurance writes in the Daily Mail:

It has been a week in which public sector workers have been told to tighten their belts. Millions have learned they will have to pay more into their pensions, work longer and receive less when they retire.

Their only comfort, as the Coalition -Government fights to close the yawning gap in Britain’s public finances, is Messrs Cameron and Osborne’s regular reminder that ”˜we are all in this together’.

Recent revelations about the scale of top salaries in local government – Britain’s highest-paid council chief executive receives almost …£300,000 a year and scores are paid more than the Prime Minister – undermined this feeling of mutual pain.

But a new investigation by Channel 4’s Dispatches programme has revealed that the taxpayer is funding far bigger individual pay packages – in one case we found, an astonishing …£10 million a year.

This is no ordinary tale of Fat Cattery. These multi-million-pound deals are being paid to the heads of the ”˜outsourcers’ – the giant private companies that say they can do a better and more efficient job collecting bins, say, or providing nursing care than the State.

They are private companies but they are also the creation of the Government’s drive to outsource services. The lion’s share of their turnover – and of their executives’ enormous pay packages – comes from the public purse. But there is little in the way of public accountability.

These outsourcers already account for …£79 billion of state expenditure every year, a figure which is set to grow if the Government fulfils its pledge to put nearly all state-run services out to contract.

In Canterbury Serco collects rubbish, trims trees, maintains road signs, cuts grass and looks after public toilets.

Surely a company with such close ties to the shrinking public sector is going to be feeling the effect of government spending cuts?

Not according to the company’s chief executive Chris Hyman. Serco’s profits grew by a fifth last year, and the company reckons to have an order book of …£16.5 billion.

In the meantime the people at the top of these companies are earning a fortune. Nick Buckles is the chief executive of G4S, which provides, among other services, security guards and prisoner transport. In 2009 he made …£3.8 million in salary, bonus, share options and extras.

In the same year Serco’s Chris Hyman, an evangelical Christian with a penchant for racing Ferraris, received a pay package of more than …£5 million.

Text and images ©2024 Antony Loewenstein. All rights reserved.

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