Mass public sector privatisation call

Ministers were today urged to privatise vast swathes of the public sector including libraries, schools, hospitals and even prisons and police stations, and transfer them to community ownership.

In a move designed to trump Margaret Thatcher's mass sell-off of council housing in the 1980s, a new report urges the sweeping transfer of state assets.

The call by centre-right think-tank ResPublica backs a radical extension of the former Prime Minister's right-to-buy policy to cover community assets and services, including leisure centres, roads and ports.

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The report will be launched today by Local Government Minister Greg Clark in a sign that the proposals are being taken seriously in Whitehall, according to the think-tank.

Under the plans, local community groups would be given a right to buy state assets, and even keep profits from running them.

The report warns that as spending cuts become more severe there will be an "unprecedented mass divestment" of state assets including council offices, police stations and Whitehall assets.