UK's growing population will require further privatisation
Opinion Digest: Trouble is, the G4S Olympics saga shows how outsourcing can turn out
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BRITAIN'S GOT A GROWING PROBLEM
PHILIP JOHNSTON ON THE CENSUS
The census figures are out and Britain's population is soaring, says Philip Johnston in The Daily Telegraph. At around 63 million it's greater than expected. The population of England has grown at twice the rate of the previous decade. This latest increase was fuelled by the Labour-induced immigration boom which has seen 200,000 people arriving a year, combined with the fact that people are living longer. One in six of the population is now aged over 65. Meanwhile, the support ratio – the number of people of working age compared with those in retirement – is lower than ever. This means more public services will need to be privatised and people encouraged to look after themselves and provide for their futures. "Yet the reforms needed to bring this about are often resisted by the very people who promoted the population boom that has made them unavoidable."
PUBLIC SERVICES, PRIVATE PROFITS
POLLY TOYNBEE ON OUTSOURCING
As police were drafted in to cover the security gap caused by G4S's recruitment failure, yet another outsourcing company collects profits while the state picks up the pieces, says Polly Toynbee in The Guardian. It's a year since the government announced its "open public services" white paper, Cameron's masterplan to dismantle the state and outsource just about every public service before his term ends. Government will always contract and procure some services from the private sector, but it should be an open, transparent and monitored process. Freedom of information laws, however, don't cover private companies – even when using taxpayers' money, so their accounts cannot be scrutinised. Often the only "efficiency gain" is paying workers less. No one can prove the value or cost of most outsourcing. Instead we have "an epidemic of evidence-free, faith-based policymaking", a conviction that private is always better. One thing is certain – "the profits are private but losses are ours".
GUANTANOMO-STYLE TORTURE IN LONDON
DOMINIC LAWSON ON THE HYDE PARK CONCERT
Westminster Council manager Leith Penny has been attacked for pulling the plug on the Springsteen/McCartney gig in Hyde Park at the weekend, says Dominic Lawson in The Independent. But Penny should be applauded for turning off "the infernal racket". When Radio 5 Live ran a phone-in about the incident, they received not the anticipated barrage of outrage, but many supportive calls from people who had suffered from proximity to such events. This sort of noise has been used to torture prisoners in Guantanamo Bay, but our own civil authorities increasingly "insist on imposing ultra-amplified rock music upon us – and call it a celebration". We could, suggests Lawson, follow the Queen's example. She wore earplugs attending the Buckingham Palace rock concert held to celebrate her 60 years as monarch. It was a marvellous example of discernment and diplomacy – respecting the increasingly "crass tastes of her public" while refusing to be "polluted" herself.