Shadow State

Pages: 320
Subject: Current Affairs, Politics
Imprint: Oneworld

Shadow State

Inside the Secret Companies that Run Britain

Alan White

A gripping investigation into the private companies that run Britain
9781780745749 (9 Jun 2016)
RRP £14.99 / US$22.99

The Book

Every year the British government spends £80 billion outsourcing public services. Today, private companies are responsible for fulfilling some of the most sensitive and important roles of the state - running prisons and providing healthcare, transport, legal aid, even child protection. These organizations have been handed enormous amounts of power and yet for the most part they operate with no transparency or accountability.

From deportations to NHS cutbacks, Alan White exposes what goes wrong when the invisible hand of the market is introduced into public services. Informed by exclusive interviews with senior managers, campaigners and whistle-blowers, Shadow State is the first book to examine the controversial phenomenon of government outsourcing. Not only does White provide the full story behind scandals involving G4S, Serco and ATOS, but he also reveals previously unknown cases of system failure in areas such as social care, welfare and justice. The picture that develops is deeply troubling.

Additional Information

Subject Current Affairs, Politics
Pages 320
Imprint Oneworld

About the Author

Alan White is UK Breaking News Reporter at Buzzfeed. He has written for The Times, the Guardian, Private Eye and the TLS, amongst other publications. His series of articles, 'The Shadow State', ran on the New Statesman website and were amongst its most read pieces. He lives in London.


'Readable and well ordered'.

- Literary Review

'[A] powerful account of the impact of the privatisation of public services…provides a timely and important analysis of this often overlooked feature of public life'

- Evening Standard

The takeover of government activity by a cartel of unaccountable corporations is a major shift in the way Britain works. Alan White shines a light into this murky world. Everyone is affected by the shadow state. Everyone should read Shadow State.'

- Andy Slaughter MP, Shadow Minister for Human Rights

‘In February 2014 the House of Commons Public Accounts Committee published a devastating report on the way in which public services were contracted out to the private sector... Alan White's well-researched book Shadow State, provides many examples that prove the Committee's case, and will, I hope, act as an urgently needed call for action, particularly to improve the standard of contracting throughout Whitehall.'

- Lord Ramsbotham, former HM Chief Inspector of Prisons for England and Wales

This is a must read for anyone who wants to know about the growing power and role of the private sector in delivering public services. It's comprehensive, written in a gripping style and chronicles many of the private sector's failures. It punctures the myth that the private sector is better at delivering public service.'

- Dame Margaret Hodge MP