A leading Conservative council is using the business model of budget airlines, Ryanair and easyJet, to inspire a radical reform of public service provision which is being seen as a blueprint for Tory government.
Actually, it's no such thing. It's about cuts:
In his day job [council leader Mike] Freer, 49, is a consultant to the banking sector and he has worked with PricewaterhouseCoopers, the accountants, to draft plans to save up to £16m a year from the council's costs.
How? As the Guardian notes:
One of Freer's most controversial reforms so far has been to cut live-in wardens from sheltered housing.
The council says this level of support is too costly and it is planning to replace live-in wardens with "floating" wardens across the borough, possibly run by the private sector.
But as one resident noted:
"It is essential to see somebody and know somebody cares about you," he said. "I have suffered a lot of depression over the last few years and Janet knows if I am down or not. She comes and chats, sits in your flat and speaks to you like a mother or a sister. When she is away, the place is like a graveyard."
This does not go down well with local Tories apparently: it is the state replacing the family and that will never do.
Well maybe theire rleatives can afford to pay for this service, but I think it appropriate for all elderly people - including those with limited or no family.
As the Guardian editorial notes:
Whether or not the Tory devolutionist rhetoric goes the forgotten way of Gordon Brown's one-time "new localism", services administered locally are in line for a battering. Competing national politicians have extended protection to centralised aspects of expenditure, such as health and international aid, which only leaves town halls more exposed. Council tax has risen steeply over a dozen years, making it hard to increase it much further. As in the 1980s, there will be new "local discretion" in interpreting social obligations. As in the 1980s, there will also be much talk of choice and of charity. And as in the 1980s, it will soon ring hollow if the upshot is that there is no one around to help an old lady in need.
My prediction is simple: expect a great many old ladies in need who will face massive hardship as a result of the policies of ex-PWC bank consultants.