The highly successful Behavioural Insights Team or 'Nudge Unit' as it is known, is set to be part privatised to turn it into a profit-making organisation.

But why privatise it at all? The team obviously works hard and it returns far more savings than it costs to run.

The Nudge Unit set, up after the 2010 General Election, is the organisation that aims to 'nudge' people into making the 'right' decisions as decided by government without the state having to make any large and overt intervention.

The unit has been credited with a string of successes such as getting people to pay fines promptly by getting the courts to send out personalised texts to offenders for example, which are claimed to have saved the tax payer hundreds of millions of pounds since it was set up.

The unit costs the taxpayer £520,000 a year and is run by civil servants headed by psychologist David Halpern who used to head up the Labour government strategy team.

The plan is for the government to keep a stake in the set-up but for the ten civil servants working in it to become shareholders in the company and an outside investor found to bring money into the company. One assumes that the shares go to the civil service job position, not to the job holder?

The aim it appears is to reward civil servants with a share of the profits and also to allow the unit to then do work for other governments and organisations so that money can be made for the government.

But surely the nudge unit is just a government marketing unit like any other company's in-house advertising department. When all's said and done all it is trying to do is sell a concept to people, a job that any competent marketing company could do, surely.

Houses of Parliament - FreeFoto.com

Houses of Parliament – FreeFoto.com

Call me old-fashioned but, instead of setting up a complex public/private arrangement like this and creating a monopoly in the process, which will still be paid for by the tax payer at the end of the day, if you need to why not just tender out to private companies and get a good deal?

That would be far less complicated, far more transparent and all the work done for the benefit of the UK.

But better still why not just keep the unit as it is? The unit is already reportedly extremely successful and highly cost effective, so why try to fix what is not broken?

Or do we now want civil servants looking at all angles of their jobs with a view to making a quick buck instead of the traditional public service ethos? If we can already quantify the unit's success in financial terms then we can already reward their hard work.

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