INFO FRANCEINFO. Allocated resources, citizens’ needs, competition from the private sector… What a report on the state of public services in France reveals

The Our Public Services collective analyzed two decades of public policies and compared them to changing needs, in education, health, justice, security and even transport.

“The means of public services have been increasing less rapidly than social needs for twenty years”that is to say that the needs of citizens, warns a report published Thursday September 14 by the collective Our public servicesand written by around a hundred public service agents, researchers and citizens.

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According to the authors, public policies have not been able to adapt as quickly to changes in society. “The needs of society are evolving, society is transforming and the means of public services are not keeping up, explains on franceinfo Arnaud Bontemps, civil servant and spokesperson for the collective. For fifteen years, we have had a growing constraint on resources, on public service spending, fewer civil servants, fewer taxes, which create a growing gap, a gap.” The private sector therefore takes advantage of this to develop, by offering a response to these unmet needs. “It is in this gap that a space opens up for the private sector, continues Arnaud Bontemps. And in return, this development of the private sector destabilizes the public service.”

To arrive at this observation, the report is based on the analysis of two decades of public policies, in comparison with the evolution of needs in education, health, justice, security and even transport. Overview of the main axes of the study.

Health: “A bypass of the public by the private”

The annual number of emergency room visits increased from 17 million in 2010 to 21 million in 2019, an increase of “more than 20% in less than ten years”. The aging of the population and “massive growth” chronic diseases weigh on the health system, warn the authors of the report. That “requires better coordination and distribution of care”. In the last ten years, ten departments already in relative medical overdensity have seen their number of doctors per inhabitant increase, while 48 departments below the national average have seen their number of doctors per inhabitant decrease.

At the same time, private clinics “increase their place”. According to Arnaud Bontemps, we are thus witnessing “a bypass of the public sector by the private sector”. “The private sector, in particular for-profit clinics, concentrates on surgery, that is to say procedures which are very programmable and very profitable. We leave the most precarious patients, the most vulnerable, to the public hospital. emergencies and the most serious care, for example resuscitation.” A system is thus developed with two different models “depending on whether or not we have the means to bypass the public service”.

Justice and security: neglected “everyday security”

Concerning justice and security, the “feeling of insecurity felt by the population remains high”. But despite the increase in allocated resources, the authors note a “deterioration of the quality and effectiveness of the judicial response”. The time taken to judge a civil case before the high court, for example, increased from seven months in 2005 to 14 months in 2019.

The number of security forces increased significantly between 2010 and 2020, particularly in the fight against illegal immigration (+31%) and in maintaining public order (+10%), while they fell by 10% in public security and peace, which is everyday security. Hence this paradox highlighted by the report: despite a continued decline in acts of violence and an increase in numbers, the feeling of insecurity persists among the French.

Education: the public transformed into “minimum and degraded service”

The report describes a “massification” education: there are more and more high school graduates and students. The rate of high school graduates per generation has quadrupled since the 1980s, and the proportion of higher education graduates has doubled in 25 years among 25-34 year olds. The occasional increases in resources were not enough to compensate for the accumulation of structural shortcomings, which significantly weighed on the attractiveness of the teaching profession and, therefore, the quality of the education system. Public policies in education “fail to renew themselves” to take into account these inequalities and the well-being of students, insists the report.

In this context, more and more parents are turning to private schools and private lessons, but these are mainly “favored families”. There “share of children with strong cultural capital” in private schools under contract has gone from “29% in 2003 to 40% in 2021”. However, public spending is the same for private education students and public school students.

According to the authors of the report, private services are more costly for the State, and they do not allow for “unconditional welcome”, unlike public service. Inequalities therefore still tend to widen. “This development of a private service gradually leads to the transformation of the public service into a minimum and degraded service, and, therefore, the progressive loss of its universal vocation“, alerts the collective.

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