What no mainstream media pundit has yet picked up on in the lead up to the 2015 budget is what Chris Trotter has identified – that this budget, beneath the spin, will be National’s blitzkrieg to privatise social welfare…
The “Better Public Services Programme” that Bill English launches on Thursday (almost certainly under a new and catchier name) won’t be about relinquishing all state responsibility for the poor, the sick and the young, it will be about funding private entities to provide services which, hitherto, had been provided by public servants.
In English’s own words to the Institute of Public Administration on 19 February 2015: “Testing for spending effectiveness will be core to this process. If we can’t measure effectiveness, it won’t be funded through social investment. We’ll be systematically reprioritising funding to providers that get results.”
To anyone who’s been following the commissioning of the new privately-run prison at Wiri, south of Auckland, all this talk of “social investment” and “providers” will sound very familiar. The taxpayers have spent millions on the construction of the Wiri facility, and the Government has just announced the laying-off of close to 200 prison officers from around the country in order to supply it with a core of highly-trained staff, but the actual running of the prison has been contracted-out to the multinational firm, Serco. For the next quarter-of-a-century a private entity will be permitted to extract a substantial profit for the provision of a “service” that the state (minus the profit) has, quite rightly, accepted responsibility for the past 200 years.
…and the truth of this is being seen now with news that Social Welfare workers are being cut out of the new review into CYFS…
Lead by senior public servant Paula Rebstock, the panel is to oversee a new operating model to modernise CYF and enhance its governance.
It is expected to have a wide-ranging brief to consider all aspects of CYF operations.
The panel also includes Police Commissioner Mike Bush, chief science adviser to the Ministry of Social Development Richie Poulton, former Maori Party chief of staff Helen Leahy and Duncan Dunlop, chief executive of Who Cares? Scotland, an independent advocacy charity for young people.
Association chief executive Lucy Sandford-Reed said at face value the review was laudable, but in reality the terms were “frightening”.
Reference to things like outsourcing was “the language of privatising, of using business models, whereas working for change actually involves relationships.”
Having no social worker representation on the panel was “gobsmacking”.
…the reason Social Welfare workers are being denied a voice is because this is an ideological hit squad going in to identify ways to get corporations involved in social welfare provision.
Most corporate news pundits have no connection with poverty. It’s been one of Key’s secrets of his success, the spin that he is really moderate. That’s true if you are middle class, but working people and beneficiaries have seen first hand the brutality of Key’s economic darwinism. That reality doesn’t impact pundits, so the line Key is moderate gets spun. The question is whether any media manage to pick this social welfare privatisation up in the budget this week.