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Friday, 9 February 2018

Public Libraries Privatisation

Just a quick update on the privatisation of public libraries.  It looks like Hounslow and Croydon are certain to keep their libraries in house.  Ealing and Harrow are also doing so for the time being.  I have long been sceptical of the value of privatised libraries, so I hope they remain as public services, and I am further convinced by this by a blog by Cooperatives UK Ed Mayo

He has been looking at the accounts for the Harrow and Ealing "Not for Profit" organisation.  In its accounts the gap between the "cost of sales" and "Total sales" appears to be exactly equivalent to administrative fees charged by Carillion, so it looks like there was a profit, just one called an "administrative charge" instead of being called a profit.

Separately, Huffington Post is reporting that PWC who are responsible for winding Carillion up now that it has gone into liquidation is trying to charge a 20% mark up fees.  That is quite a show of chutzpah.  If I were Ealing or Harrow I would be asking about what I had paid already, and whether I had been deliberately overcharged.  No wonder Frank Field and Rachel Reeves gave the Directors a rough ride in their committee hearing. 

Certainly, the experience of the Libraries Transformation Project convinces me that you can achieve as many savings through an old fashioned publicly run and publicly funded service as you can through private providers.

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