In Place of Austerity

In Place of Austerity, Restructuring the economy, state and public services, by Dexter Whitfield, Spokesman.

In Place of Austerity

Dexter Whitfield

In Place of Austerity uncovers the realities of commissioning, localism, ‘big society’ empowerment fraud, and the systematic undermining of public services and the welfare state. It perceptively exposes the scale of disempowerment, dispossession and disinvestment, and analyses the dominant rationale, which continues to underpin the financialisation and personalisation of public services, accelerating marketisation and privatisation on an unprecedented scale.

This is a vitally important book for trade unions as well as for civil and community organisations. It provides a critical understanding of the issues and will aid their intervention in transformation and procurement of public services by forging strong alliances, taking industrial and community action, and advancing alternative policies.

In Place of Austerity sets out a framework for policies that reconstruct the economy, invest in local economies, create jobs and rebuild public infrastructure. In doing so, it charts a new role for the state and offers a radical new public service management strategy. It is an equally important resource for all public sector employees. Incisive, timely and detailed, it is original in its research and analysis.


  1. Deepening crisis

  2. Neoliberal transformation of public services and welfare state

  3. Corporate welfare reaches new zenith

  4. Reconstructing the economy

  5. Reconstructing the state

  6. Reconstructing public services

  7. Organising and action strategies

  8. Privatisation of core public services

  9. Political economy of civil society contracting and organising

  10. Why markets fail

  11. Conclusion

264 pages – Paperback £18.00 ISBN: 978 085124 7939 Spokesman Books, Nottingham. England.

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ePUB format £11.99 ISBN: 978 0 85124 7946

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Dexter Whitfield is Director of the European Services Strategy Unit and Adjunct Associate Professor, Australian Institute for Social Research, University of Adelaide. He has an extensive and unique track record of research, policy analysis and strategic advice to public bodies, trade unions and community organisations. His recent book, Global Auction of Public Assets, has proved highly influential in providing a definitive analysis of Public Private Partnerships and the burgeoning global infrastructure market.

Download Detailed Contents of In Place of Austerity


I have written In Place of Austerity: Reconstructing the Economy, State and Pubic Services with four key objectives in mind. Firstly, to develop a theoretical framework to better understand neoliberal transformation of public services and the welfare state. Cuts in public spending are just one manifestation of the financial crisis.

Secondly, to expose the myths of commissioning, localism, big society and empowerment. Neoliberal public sector transformation commodifies children and the elderly, fragments public provision and deconstructs democracy. We need to better understand the scale of failure in public service markets and expose how corporate welfare has reached a new zenith.

Thirdly, to promote action strategies that can stop, slow down and/or mitigate the negative consequences of these policies.

Fourthly, to advance a framework of policies for the reconstruction of the economy, state and public services. There is an alternative to neoliberal economic strategies, and ‘another world is possible’.

Continuing financial crises, market and public service contract failures reflect the political and corporate commitment to neoliberalism, irrespective of the consequences for service users, public employees, social justice, and local and regional economies.

Austerity and spending cuts create the conditions under which the financialisation, personalisation, marketisation and privatisation of public services and the welfare state will be accelerated.

Who delivers public services and who owns the public infrastructure are vitally important, but they are only part of the agenda. Coalition policies are designed to dispossess, disinvest, destabilise, depoliticise and disempower, amounting to the deconstruction of democracy.

Their policies are designed to radically change the design, scope and quality of public services. Once services are financialised and individualised, the principles of solidarity and social justice will be permanently eroded. Contractors, consultants and business and trade organisations do not just have a vested interest in obtaining more public service contracts. They are committed to the neoliberal transformation of public services and a corporate welfare state. The commodification of children and the elderly; the break up and fragmentation of public networks of schools and hospitals; deregulation; the imposition of market forces; the sale of universal services; and vast profits from privately financed infrastructure and services, are all designed to spur the growth of private health, private education and private care.

We should not be distracted by the rhetoric of localism and social enterprise. The idea that a ‘new social economy’ can challenge, or even be an alternative to, capitalism, is unfounded. It is a diversion and a delusion. We need to harness the innovation and skills that already exist in the public sector, instead of trying to advance the self-interest of entrepreneurs. The energy and public money put into building an alternative sector will ultimately reduce and undermine the public sector.

Instead, we must reconstruct the economy, state and public services. Reconstruction has three inter-connected parts – new economic policies, alternative policies for public services and the welfare state, and a new public service management.

The deconstruction of democracy will not be defeated by trade unions, community organisations, civil society organisations or political groups acting alone.

We must organise in the workplace and community, forge coalitions and public service alliances, and build political support for alternative policies and plans. We have to organise industrial, civil and community action, intervene in the transformation and procurement processes, and challenge the vested interests of business and their political allies.

Press Release


The Guardian Public Leaders Network Thursday 8 December 2011 Public sector workers must work together to prevent privatisation by Dexter Whitfield.

Plan B and Beyond by Dexter Whitfield, Red Pepper, Issue 182, Feb/Mar 2012. A critical assessment of Compass's Plan B that reveals its shortcomings and need for a more radical and comprehensive socialist alternative.

Public Pain: The insidious destruction of public services Dexter Whitfield, Chartist, July/August 2012

“This is not so much a ‘hollowing out’ of the state, but a fundamental redirection to finance and manage markets and collusion in the deepening of corporate welfare.”


Clifford Singer, Open Democracy, 5 January 2012

"In In Place of Austerity he sets out both to ‘develop a theoretical framework to better understand neoliberal transformation of public services and the welfare state’, and to offer campaign strategies and policy alternatives to this transformation. Whitfield is particularly strong on the role of the public services industry, which he says is more accurately labelled the ‘privatisation industry’ or, simply, the ‘big business lobby’.

Whitfield’s previous book, 2010's Global Auction of Public Assets, provides the most comprehensive critique of the Private Finance Initiative yet published."

Nick Grant, Socialist Review, January 2012

“Understanding the real reasons for the assault on public sector workers is a first crucial step in calibrating our best response, especially if we hope to win some battles in this prolonged war. Dexter Whitfield systematically aids our task in this essential handbook for all those engaged in resistance from within unions as well as community and national coalitions.”

Andy Morton, Chartist, March/April 2012

“…Whitfield maps out expertly the different and complex forms of private involvement in the public sector. He shines a light on those insidious forms of privatisation – that include the varied use of procurement, outsourcing and commissioning procedures – that have proved just as dangerous as the more aggressive forms of privatisation such as the wholesale selling off of public assets”

National Coalition for Independent Action (NCIA) website review, April 2012

“…elegantly puts together different pieces of the jigsaw – the state of the economy, private sector influences on it, the undermining of public services and the welfare state, and how we might come together to resist the plans”

William Podmore, Amazon Books 15 May 2012

“This remarkable book is a thorough, detailed study of how we need to rebuild Britain, packed with evidence, facts and arguments proving that the Coalition's policies are ruinous. He shows why we need new economic policies and better policies for public services.”

Cathy Davis, Department of Environment and Life Sciences, University of Salford, UK, in Housing Studies, 2012

“…the volume provides a wealth of detail about how neo-liberalist approaches are subverting and replacing state provision, predominantly in the UK as well as other Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries. Three introductory chapters outline the ‘deepening crisis’ from 2007–2008; the continuing ‘neo-liberal transformation’ of welfare state services and the growth of corporate welfare.”

*Dave Putson, TUSC (Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition)*

“…a substantial and significant contribution to the debate raging worldwide regarding the austerity agenda’s currently being propounded.” “You are led through the means by which the economy and state can be re-ordered and re-configured to our benefit rather than business benefit. There is a detailed appraisal of public services and an explanation of their importance complete with an underpinning strategy to achieve these ends.”

“For many of those fellow travellers who are opposed to Austerity “initiatives” and all of the grief, pain and hardship that they bring to people across the world, and for whom the issues were beginning to appear insurmountable to reverse…Here is your starting gun to effect change. Read, inwardly digest and take the alternatives forward in the practical and pragmatic manner that are offered here as nuggets of inspiration for and to an austerity free future.”


European Services Strategy Unit, Duagh, Camp, Tralee, County Kerry, Ireland.
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This document was created by Chris Croome on 2011-11-09 14:02:33.
This document was last modified by Dexter Whitfield on 2013-07-22 19:47:52.
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