Privatisation, when it was all the rage in Thatchers ‘80s, was supposed to kick the moribund, state-run utilities into competitive efficiency, to streamline them, with market forces getting rid of their unionised complacency. So what, now, if I’m not happy with Severn Trent’s service? How do I take my business elsewhere? My only option is to move house so that I can enjoy the delights of, say, Thames Water’s water. It’s nonsense, of course, as these are monopolies with nothing against which to compete. Or, to put it another way, a licence to print money. ST’s CEO was challenged on the ‘Today’ programme to justify her £3m bonus (which she neatly sidestepped) and the level of dividends (‘payments to our shareholders, who could be your parents, grandparents or their pension funds’). I’m all for the free market, but this is anything but free. And even if we only drink Evian, we still need to have the occasional shower and flush the loo, so they have us by the proverbials, whether we like it or not. And don’t get me started on the privatisation of the care sector, with homes charging £1500 per week and paying staff doing horrible jobs the minimum wage. We’ll save that for another day.
“England’s poorer pupils face ‘geographic exclusion’ from top state schools – study”
What’s this got to do with financial advice? Well, bear with me. I was a school governor for 15 years, through most of the Blair/Brown years and a bit of Coalition rule and in the heyday introduction of league tables and target-setting for everything.