Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The Myth of Competition - A Rant!

Today the government announces a “shake-up” in Higher Education, promising to give students more choice and “consumer powers”. That’s right folks they are going to bring competition into Higher Education. Again we are being told that competition will deliver a better standard of service and more choice for the consumer - in this case students. If they are planning on bringing competition into higher education, how long will it be before students are faced with prohibitive tuition fees and a two tier education system where the brightest students from poor backgrounds will be consigned to the least impressive universities…? Oh… hang on…
Is anyone able to give an example of where competition has actually succeeded? I work in the deregulated and “open” Energy sector. I use the term open in inverted commas as realistically there is such little difference in the cost of Energy per provider that you may as well stay where you are; that is why when one provider puts their price up, they all do. Not because of an inflated market and companies trying to screw you over, but because they all pay roughly the same for the energy they sell you, and it’s you the consumer who suffers.
What about the railways? Surely there is an example of the success of privatisation and deregulation…? No? That’s right folks we still have to put up with trains that aren’t exactly clean or a joy to travel on, that don’t run on time and due to the private company having to make a profit, are over-priced and I feel, don’t offer value for money. Despite the so called choice I have in a deregulated market I am still stuck with the same rail franchise that is consistently late, on daily basis. So, in what way have I benefited? The same applies with buses, where vital rural services are being stopped because they are not profitable.
How about the Royal Mail? I remember a time when I had two postal deliveries in one day! Now I get one, usually after I have gone to work. So, let me get this right I’m paying more for a service that gives me less? Winner.
For me “competition” usually means a private company offering the least possible service they can for the highest price they can to maintain an healthy profit margin for it’s shareholders and directors. And thereby giving the Government an opportunity to absolve itself of responsibility to its people, under the guise of “choice” being in our interests.

1 comment:

  1. Competition can work in diverse and established markets, so a blanket generalisation of competition = bad may be overstepping it a bit. However, I agree with what you say in relation to what were once publicly owned organisations (post office, trains) and I'm especially worried about "competition" in universities.

    Apart from that, /agree.