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Royal Mail & Privatisation: Its called privatisation for a good reason and politicians need to wake up and realise that privately owned business will never have the general public as its point of primary concern…

November 19, 2014 Leave a comment

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In July 2013 – before the privatisation of Royal Mail took place, I wrote a blog about the process and discussed why it was a bad idea and briefly, what the implications would most likely be for the future of the universal delivery service.

Sadly, the news today that the privatised Company has experienced a £74 Million fall in profits and that it is already pointing the finger of blame at competition in profitable areas comes as little surprise.

We will no doubt soon experience further questions over the viability of rural and unprofitable delivery routes.

Whether the Government likes it or not, the reality of surrendering public ownership of a service which was created to ensure parity of service for all in the way that only a not-for-profit operation can do so, is soon going to bite.

It is simply impossible for Government to dictate the operational structure of a private business when profit is at risk – unless they choose to subsidise the service. If that happens, the question will surely yet again be why did they dispose of Royal Mail in the first place?

Whatever our politicians may think, privatisation of services which are there for the benefit of everyone is never a good idea; however hard to run; however much they cost; however much can be earned from their sale.

These services are essential to deliver a basic standard of living for all, which Government is currently failing to do by not dealing with the profit-led management policies of all the privatised services which the public once owned. What is more, it is set to continue compounding the problem by having so recently disposed of Royal Mail and by taking very big steps in the direction of privatisation of the NHS through the Commissioning Process.

It stands to reason that the managers of privately owned firms are going to focus on the practices and methods of working which deliver a good bottom line.

Whereas Government and Social Enterprise will be very happy if they are simply covering their costs, private owners simply don’t get up each day and think about how they can remove all their profits from one area of their business to subsidise the services they offer in another – when they cost them money to do so.

Sooner or later, someone – certainly not this Government – is going to have to begin picking up the pieces from what has been the serial offloading of a whole range of public services which once gave all British people unhindered access to the tools of a modern life which were once the envy of all.

The Country may already be secretly bankrupt. But selling up everything that we own is not the answer.

Top to bottom reform is now inevitable. It’s just a question of when; not if – and what the cost will be to us all whilst we wait for the leadership of politicians who are big enough to get all of the jobs done in the best interests of everyone and not just themselves.

 

image: europeanceo.com 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Royal Mail Privatisation: The Coalition might be wise to reconsider reinventing the wheel before they help all those on our universal postal service to fall off…

July 10, 2013 1 comment

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News today that the Government is now set to sell-off Royal Mail has encouraged some good debate, but has also reminded us of the earth-sized polarity of thoughts that the idea of private ownership of public-wide services creates, even before considering that neither Government nor private ownership of such ‘businesses’ may ultimately be the right answer.

In the 80’s, sell offs of Nationally owned ‘businesses’ were commonplace and we are now in the unfortunate position of witnessing and indeed experiencing first hand what ultimately happens when companies providing public-wide services with a de facto monopoly change hands and end up in the control of owners or shareholders who have few scruples when it comes to making money.

Utility and Energy Companies alike are effectively awash with cash but go unhindered by Government or Regulators as they continually raise prices through the cash cow which is a virtually guaranteed substantial customer base.

In Royal Mail’s case, there is of course a slight difference in that there is a variation in the product or services offered, whereas with electricity, gas or water, even a vast array of contracts and customer discount packages would not change the basic product that everyone buys.

Nonetheless, examples such as BT’s reluctance to roll out broadband to very remote areas could perhaps set the clearest example of how unprofitable – and what are in effect subsidised forms of mail delivery, are likely to end up in private hands.

The terms of the sell off may well attempt to dictate the continuation of service to keep everyone happy right now. But anyone who thinks that an outside entity – in this case even government – with no significant shareholder relationship can even attempt to dictate the terms under which a stand-alone, profit-led business will operate alone in an otherwise highly competitive field, will have quite another thing coming once the directors, accountants, project managers and marketers have had their way.

The inherent risk in the privatisation of Royal Mail is that over time, clever pricing strategies and manipulation of the operational or service offering will effectively price-out deliveries to areas where Post Offices are already becoming comparatively scarce.

There is a real chance that resident groups and voluntary organisations will end up attempting to pick up the pieces from yet another Government plan that was ill-conceived and not thought-through and based on little more than what we could argue as being a fag-packet plan. This is completely avoidable and would be fundamentally wrong.

Whether we have a problem with National debt or not, selling off any public assets to balance the books is hardly the mark of innovation, and certainly not the modus operandi of Ministers who either listen carefully to the lessons learned from history or consider the impacts of their actions upon our tomorrows as they just worry about their todays’.

Like other public-wide services which were sold off before, Royal Mail is an organisation serving every household and business in the Country; responsibly placed in the care of a Government which has been Elected to consider and prioritise the needs of all those people and organisations located throughout our Country for a reason.

Perhaps it’s time this Government reconsiders reinventing the wheel before they help all those on our universal postal service to fall off…

image thanks to http://www.telegraph.co.uk

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