Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Outsourcing Local Councillor Services?

Here’s an interesting piece sent in by our friend DopeyF. The emphases and the comments in italics are mine. Source.
All local services could be outsourced, say council chiefs

More than a third of council leaders and chief executives in England believe all local services could be outsourced to alternative providers, according to a survey. (except those provided by council leaders and chief excecutives…?)

Photo: Alamy
The poll of 73 council chiefs (out of 433) conducted by the Localis think-tank and Capita Symonds consultancy found that 38% of respondents said all services could be contracted out.

But other respondents felt some council services should always remain in-house. The most commonly cited service was planning, with 44% of respondents saying it should not be outsourced under any circumstances. This was followed by children’s social care (33%) and licensing (31%).

Localis’s report, Catalyst councils, predicted that the ‘traditional model’ of council provision – where authorities do everthing [sic!] from waste collection to road maintenance and social care – would be replaced by more partnerships with the private and voluntary sectors.

However, it warned that a lack of local commissioning skills remained a ‘barrier to innovation’. (now there’s a surprise)

The survey found that many council chiefs would like to improve their authority’s commissioning skills, although local government is better at this than other parts of the public sector. (now what other parts of the public sector are there? Oh yes, the national bit supposedly “managed” by the er, well, government of the day?)

More than two-thirds of those surveyed said making use of external expertise and skills was the biggest potential benefit of working with private or voluntary sector partners, or mutual organisations. More than half – 53.4% – also felt such partnerships would lead to more innovative services.

Localis called on both the government and the Local Government Association to establish a commission to ‘close the commissioning skills gap’ in councils. This would help town halls understand what they could and could not do under competition rules such as European Union procurement directives, and would assume responsibility for a national training programme.

Localis chief executive Alex Thomson said: ‘The financial situation faced by local government is serious and the status quo is not a viable option.

‘But I’m confident that if everyone is willing to play their part – the public sector to be more receptive to new ideas, the voluntary sector more open to working in collaborative alliances, and the private sector more of a risk-sharing partner – then we’ve got a decent shot at continuing to enjoy high-quality public services in the years to come.’

Oliver Letwin, minister for government policy, welcomed the report. Speaking at the launch yesterday, he said: ‘We absolutely have to find the means of allowing things to be done at a much more local level than they have been done before and within each locality find the means to allow things to be done by a much wider range of diverse providers.

‘I suspect that, 15 or 20 years from now, we will find a Britain in which people can’t imagine how things used to be so centralised and so dominated by one model of delivery.’
So, where are we here in Redbridge? Waste is contracted out via the East London Waste Authority and we have a 25 year contract with Shanks. Leisure and Libraries plus our ONE and ONLY Swimming Pool are outsourced to Vision. Education is, well, pretty much outside the control of our Council which is really just a postbox for passing on the funds from Central Government to Head Teachers. Council Housing, of which Redbridge has the least of all London Authorities, was outsourced but has recently been brought back in house. Highways work would be outsourced except we don’t have any money to tackle the £80 million backlog of work. Health and Policing, which the council have no control over, are being outsourced and privatised by the government and the local all party alliance opposing the local outfall is about as effective as an umbrella in a Tornado. There is no point in the council providing a Planning or Licensing function since all the rules have, or are being, scrapped.

So, once all this follows through and everything is magically provided by a private/voluntary alliance what will local Councillors actually do? Or will/should they be outsourced too?



  1. And when it's all "outsourced" (horrible jargon word) what happens to local democracy? We won't need local politicians any more. Hey, great idea! Electing councillors is very expensive. No more elections will save a bomb.

  2. Perhaps the Redbridge Tory group could outsource its own member bullying.

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