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Public sector workers back businesses to take over poor public services

The majority of people, including public sector workers, think that the best way to improve poor public services is to bring in businesses and charities to take them over. 

New research by Policy Exchange shows that 60% of people – including a majority (53%) of public sector workers - think that if a service like a school, GP surgery or NHS dentist is providing a poor service, then the government should allow businesses or charities to take them over or open new alternatives. A minority of people (40%) think that the best way to improve the quality of public services is to stick with existing providers but use new management and performance targets.

Labour voters (56%) are more likely to believe in sticking with poorly performing existing providers under new performance management compared to only 28% of Conservatives and 31% of Liberal Democrats. Two thirds of ‘C2’ voters – the skilled working class - who often decide the outcome of general elections are most likely to want businesses and charities brought in to run services.

Key findings from people who expressed a view in new polling, carried out by YouGov in August, also show:

  • 1 in 5 people cannot access a good, local school. This is particularly a problem in urban areas with 1 in 3 saying they lack options
  • Only half of people (52%) said that they had a choice of different GP surgeries in their area and could access a good one. One in seven (14%) said they was no decent local surgery
  • Less than a third of people (27%) said they had a choice of different NHS dentists in their area and could access a good one. 31% said they couldn’t access a good, local NHS dentist

Sean Worth, a former Downing Street adviser, who is now running Policy Exchange’s Better Public Services project said that the data is the clearest evidence yet that the trade unions are wrong that people reject reform of public services, saying it is both urgently needed and publicly supported by key swing voters.

He said, “Tony Blair tried to reform public services but ran up against too many political roadblocks.  This Government has the opportunity to finish the job. That means allowing businesses, charities and mutuals to take over and improve poor performing services like hospitals and schools. Our research shows the public, including those currently working in the public sector, want this progress.”

Do the Public Back More Reform of Public Services? An overview of the latest opinion research

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