In praise of the private sector


Anyone who has applied for a student loan, completed a tax return or renewed a passport can tell you how thoroughly useless the government and its executive agencies are at providing services.

Indeed, my recent wrangling with the Student Loans Company involved no less than: the sending of an application; the resending of the application because, when processing the original one, the SCL confused my elder brother for my father; the making of three phone calls after, having confirmed that my father and my brother are, indeed, two different people, the SCL waited two weeks before re-processing my application; and a final long (and still on-going) wait as I anticipate the arrival through the post of my loan offer. My need of the word “re-processing” there ought be indictment enough of the public service malady.

These government failures take on even ghastlier appearances when viewed from the towering heights of private sector accomplishment. It seems a comparative miracle that I can buy groceries at midnight from my local Tesco with one hand and simultaneously book a flight to the other side of the world using the i-Phone clasped in the other. Anybody (I’m looking at you Ed Balls) who maintains that the public sector can lead innovation need only look around him to realise how mistaken he is.

Just think about it a moment. Whilst the government struggles to supply basic forms of these services, through the private sector you can: have your bins emptied every week; retire at an age other than sixty-five; access your medical records when you have an accident; book a GP appointment online and choose who delivers your letters.

I’m pretty sure that this list is nowhere near exhaustive. Any additions?