Public Sector News – September 2018

What you missed in public sector news during conference season.

5 Oct 2018| News

News from the public sector reflects an increasingly bleak picture, with the announcement of a 20% spike in insolvencies in the construction industry following Carillion’s collapse, and a bill to the taxpayer of £65m as a result of the thousands of redundancies made when the firm was liquidated.

The government also announced a much-criticised plan for failed prison HMP Birmingham, which had to be taken back under state control after private contractor G4S left inmates in squalid conditions. The Ministry of Justice revealed it was moving 200 prisoners out of the institution and increasing staffing levels, but campaigners pointed out that this strategy only piles further pressure on other struggling prisons, thus moving the problem elsewhere rather than solving it.

Overcrowding and understaffing is the cause of many problems within the prison system, campaigners said, including an increase in violence. Indeed, thousands of prison officers recently demonstrated against “unprecedented” levels of violence in a day of action organised by the POA. The protest was called off after a deal was reached between the union and Prisons Minister Rory Stewart, allowing the union to engage in constructive dialogue with the prisons service.

Police, too, are taking aim at the government after Ministers ignored the recommendations of the independent Police Remuneration Review Body it set up to determine pay for two years in a row. The Police Federation says its members have been “cheated” out of the pay rise they deserve, describing the government’s decision as a “betrayal”, and announcing that it will now take legal action in the form of a judicial review.

The “worst” cuts yet are still to come for local authorities, which have to save nearly £1 billion more next year, after almost a decade of swingeing austerity. The County Councils Network, which released the figures, warned that even more frontline cuts would need to be made locally in order to try and keep the already stretched adult social care sector afloat. The caution came on the same day the Local Government Association reported that millions of unpaid carers are risking their health to look after loved ones after the underfunded public sector let them down.

In education, a study has found that UK teachers have the worst job satisfaction in the English-speaking world, the government has delayed scrapping potentially unsafe nuclear submarines to save money, public sector support staff are putting in 40 million hours of overtime a year to plaster over the cracks, and NHS funding will be cut by an additional £2.7 billion after the government miscalculated pensions expenditure.

Despite all of this, the deficit the government said it would close with this swingeing austerity widened again in August.