The increase in resources is not everything: the collective of civil servants “Our public services” is alarmed on Thursday by the fact that the public service is becoming, according to it, “a minimum and degraded service”, undermined by competition from private offers. Health, education, transport, justice, security: “the means of public services have been increasing for twenty years less rapidly than social needs, and the gap between the former and the latter tends to worsen,” worries the collective in its first “Report on the State of Public Services”.
Known for its often critical positions towards the government, “Our Public Services” brings together public officials from the State, hospitals and communities keen to bring about an alternative and less “managerial” vision of public services. The collective recognizes that over the last twenty years, public spending has increased. The workforce has followed the same trend and today reaches some 5.5 million public employees.
For its editors, this report “highlights the consequences of a growing gap between social needs and the means of public services”, with the “development of inequalities”, a “growing space” left to the private sector as well as as “breaks with public officials as well as with the population”.
“Caregivers' strikes, lack of teachers, crisis of justice, dependence on cars and rising oil costs, Orpéa scandal or recently private daycare centers... There is no shortage of examples to illustrate "what's cracking" », Underlines Arnaud Bontemps, civil servant and co-spokesperson of the collective. “But that doesn't explain 'why' (...) It's far from being just a question of means,” he continues, explaining that paradoxically, “we've never had so many civil servants, and the public spending has never been so high.
Because at the same time, the needs of the population have multiplied: acceleration of climate change, aging of the population, mass access to higher education... The apparent increase in financial and human resources would therefore mask a “attrition” of public services “in relation to the strong trend of changing needs” of its users.
Even more worrying, “the financial outlook for the years to come foresees a very marked increase in this loss of public resources,” warns the report, informed by the testimonies of around a hundred public officials, researchers and citizens. Due to this gap between the needs and the means of public services, “an increasing space opens up for a private offer to take care of needs”: contract schools, private clinics, etc.
However, these services competing with the public “are characterized by a higher cost (...) and an absence of unconditional reception”, contrary to the universal vocation of public services, argues the collective. In addition to increasing inequalities, “this development of a niche private sector gradually leads to the transformation of the public service into a minimum and degraded service,” he still regrets.
“The time taken to judge a civil case before the high court was 14 months in 2019 compared to 7 months in 2005,” illustrates the report. Our Public Services does not formulate specific proposals but is committed to pushing its vision centered on needs rather than means “in the political, academic, administrative and civic spheres”.