Industry sceptical about success of public sector reforms

Mar 29 2005 by Nic Paton Print This Article

Businesses are dissatisfied with progress on public service reform and sceptical about the Government’s cost-saving plans, according to a survey.

The poll of 400 firms by the Confederation of British Industry found that most companies - 86 per cent - believed the £21.5bn Gershon efficiency targets will be missed, while only four per cent believe they will be met.

Eighty-nine per cent of firms were unhappy with the reform of public transport, including half - 53 per cent - who were “very dissatisfied”, and 73 per cent were not content with the education system.

Business was also frustrated with the NHS and the criminal justice system, with 72 per cent unhappy with the former and 69 per cent with the latter.

Transport and education were ranked as the most important public services to business competitiveness.

More than nine out of 10 firms cited transport as a key factor and education is cited by 92 per cent.

Firms want these areas to be focused on more than any other over the next five years, with 42 per cent of firms favouring transport reform and 36 per cent education reform as their top priority.

CBI director-general Sir Digby Jones said: “Business as a user of public services depends on good transport, schools and hospitals. But our experience on the ground leaves much to be desired.

“Business expansion is being impeded by poor transport infrastructure, recruitment is being hampered by skills shortages and employees have to wait too long for hospital treatment.”