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Andrew v Andrew

Betsan Powys | 10:41 UK time, Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Congratulations Prince William and Kate Middleton - and your timing is appreciated.

Just as the pre-draft budget waters were closing around my head and any chance of blogging today disappearing fast, the Royal engagement comes along and knocks me off the end of umpteen running orders. What we learn from this is that a royal engagement beats pre-budget predictions any day.

Let's avoid the guesstimates then and ask a specific question: what's going on in Swansea? More specifically, Swansea Council.

The answer is that it has been looking ahead, listening to warnings about the need to work more efficiently, do more with less in these cash-strapped times and has started looking around to find out whether there's anyone out there who could run its adult social services more efficiently than it can.

To be clear it's decided nothing. The wording of this "notice" - not a tender say Swansea - might suggest it's decided quite a lot but councillors are clear that it was published in the form it was to satisfy legal requirements. What it really, really wants is for a social enterprise to step into the breach and take over the running of its adult social services.

It doesn't say so clearly - or even subtly - they argue, because again, there are ways of doing these things. They've done what the rules and regulations say you should. What they haven't done is deny that they have already heard from over 20 companies interested in the £20m a year contract and that those companies are private, not social, enterprises.

If you're Labour's Andrew Davies - never a man who'd be caught wearing a T-shirt saying I Heart Swansea Council under his suit - what you see is "the mass privatisation of social services". This is a Liberal Democrat council acting undemocratically by opening the door to private companies to run vital services for the most vulnerable clients it has, with no regard for whether the people of Swansea think that's a good idea.

If you're the Conservatives' Andrew R.T Davies - never a man you'd mix up with the other Andrew Davies - what you see is a council doing what the Labour-led coalition government has told it to do. It's looked ahead, seen what's coming and is trying to find out how it can deliver savings without affecting frontline services. What he sees is a "knee-jerk response" from the local Labour member because Swansea is run by the Liberal Democrats. What he sees is someone "who in one breath lambasts the Assembly Government (and its civil servants) for not focussing on outcomes but then lands like a ton of bricks on a local authority who's doing just that because it's of a different colour".

What do the twenty private companies see, the ones who saw the notice Swansea posted just four days ago and who can barely have drawn breath before expressing an interest? From the speed and number of applications to hit Mr Griffiths' desk, you get the impression they must have seen a sign saying "Wales - open to (your sort of) business after all."

What happens next?

I suppose, put simply, that this happens: a council that has put itself 'out there' must now decide whether it's going to stay 'out there,' knowing that it's being watched very closely, not just by the Assembly Government but by twenty one other nervous local authorities.


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  • 1. At 5:00pm on 16 Nov 2010, mr beige wrote:

    private companies only understand one measurement of success - making money and naturally in the business world there is not much problem with that - they do not recognise success in the intangibles ie. happiness, comfort, reassurance, a friendly word, a helping hand. These are the measurements of society and ne're the twain shall meet.When social service meets private enterprise there is only one winner and it is not the poor or disadvantaged. Every £ they can cut is a £ in their shareholders pocket.

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  • 2. At 5:29pm on 16 Nov 2010, alfsplace1986 wrote:

    Congratulations Prince William and Kate Middleton.

    Who will pay for that then.

    Oh! the most vulnerable in society.

    The so called benefit scroungers.

    Bit ironic that, don't you think.

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  • 3. At 6:24pm on 16 Nov 2010, Crossroads wrote:

    Just tried reading Swansea council's "notice" re privatisation of council social services (for that is what it is)....Do council's employ special pernikety scribes to make reading and understanding council literature as difficult as possible?
    I mean, we all contribute our fourpennorth on here, about every subject that Betsan produces (OK and some she doesn't)(!) And although we don't always agree, at least we understand each other!

    Swansea (and a few other councils) are merely engaging in the old 'private' against 'public' scrap which takes place quite soon after Lab and Con change governments.
    As many an old crusty who can remember the pound in his/her pocket will tell you. Its still down to right versus left with each insisting their own beliefs/philosophies are best...even apparently in the matter of Swansea's social services.

    The public sector will operate inefficiently. Staff and highly paid management(all levels) will(unconsciously) do their best to keep the unemployment figures down by hiring neighbours, family and friends. Thus grossly overdoing it by creating vast numbers of consumers and getting economists all excited and every five minutes using the "boom" word on the BBC news.

    Thus sloppiness/idleness/false optimism, will rule.

    On the face of it the private sector appears much more efficient. All they will do is cut corners to an amazing extent. Vast numbers of formerly happy Swansea welfare workers will cease being happy or workers for that matter. Everything that can be cut will be cut. Then, times will(allegedly) get hard and the management will again sorrowfully insist on less workers, less baked beans, and more cuts.This usually ends up with the private sector, knowing that they now have the whip hand, demanding large increases from central government in order to keep their 'clients' (old ladies) fed and watered...With pointed hints that they may have to close a few hundred places down...about now a General Election is in the offing !!

    Thus slave labour/rampant/ hard nose capitalism will rule...

    This continues until the next General Election changeover, when once again the left 'public sector' will rule. Cousin Dwayne,Aunty Clymidia, and Uncle George will return to good times, little actual work, and much overtime. While the return of vast numbers of highly paid management will again be seen as necessary, nay vital. not !

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  • 4. At 7:07pm on 16 Nov 2010, Crossroads wrote:

    Reply to Alfsplace1986.

    It won't last Alf.....the families got history !

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  • 5. At 10:17pm on 16 Nov 2010, alfsplace1986 wrote:

    It is pathetic how they are trying to manipulate the people though, with.....

    ..I gave her my mother's ring. The ring of the 'Peoples Princess'.

    The easily led will be falling for it hook line and sinker while the most vulnerable will be forced into poverty to pay for them.

    They make the headlines while this goes without comment.

    What has this country become.

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  • 6. At 10:46pm on 16 Nov 2010, alfsplace1986 wrote:

    What about this money if Social Care goes private in Swansea.

    Oh perhapes it will be here.

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  • 7. At 08:29am on 17 Nov 2010, politicswales wrote:

    "knowing that it's being watched very closely, not just by the Assembly Government but by twenty one other nervous local authorities."

    ...and being watched by the Welsh Conservatives who said yesterday that they are looking for 'good value for the taxpayer' from any potential deal.

    If they pull it off, does it mean a Lib-Dem Council is engaging in a Conservative-style policy?

    I wonder if that would be thought of as Lib-Con or Con-dem?

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  • 8. At 1:26pm on 17 Nov 2010, West-Wales wrote:

    Congratulations Kate and William hope you will have a long happy marriage.

    Swansea looking around to find out whether there's anyone out there who could run its adult social services more efficiently than it can. is an effort that should be applauded - provided;

    Standards are maintained or improved, we don't want to end up with the sort of problems we have seen in the NHS Ward cleaning service, or the way some contractor employee's where treated.

    The costs of monitoring the service by the Council, and the various consultants needed to establish the requirements of the service, don't drive the overall costs beyond what is economic.

    If it can be achieved there is no doubt that it can provide a better more user friendly service - not only will the ratepayers of Swansea benefit but so should those who need this important service.

    Noah #3Do council's employ special pernickety scribes to make reading and understanding council literature as difficult as possible?
    Wasn't there a campaign to improve legibility of these often totally obscurely worded reports.

    Betsan - posts marked as referred haven't been removed but
    referred to the host account for review following a complaint.

    We have posts going back before the beginning of November waiting for review, most if not all could be quickly dealt with there appears to be no reasonable excuse for delay.

    It is obvious that there is a campaign by an individual, or group, to refer posts for political reasons.
    Surely the BBC should at least quickly review these posts or/and do something to stop those who are abusing the referral system.

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