While I was helping out with the trades council stall against cuts and privatisation in Burnt Oak on Saturday, a Connaught van pulled up at the side of the road. I waylaid the passenger as they got out. They were from Hammersmith and Fulham. They too had been sacked - by text message - last week, but quickly re-employed by Lovell, the company that has taken over Connaught's more lucrative contracts. They had a lot of sympathy for the sacked Connaught workers in Barnet.
This story tells us a lot about what it means to rely on the private sector to provide public services. Basically, Connaught's contract with Barnet, due to be ended by Barnet itself in February, is just not worth any private company's time or effort. So now the workers are idle, and the repairs are going undone. Barnet Homes is negotiating for the contract to be taken on by a new company (and the 45 workers will have their third employer in a row), but if there isn't enough clear profit in it, no company will want to take it on. The workers will still be idle, and the repairs will still be undone.
Why should much-needed public services only get done when they can make a profit for someone? It doesn't make sense. The need is there, and the people are there to do the work. Where does profit come into it? It's the public purse that will pay for it in either case. Why wouldn't we want all of our money spent on the service, instead of some of it going into private pockets?
Barnet council should have done and bring the council house repairs back inhouse. The workers can go back to repairing people's houses and Barnet residents will be getting the best value for their money.