UNISONActive is an unofficial blog produced by UNISON activists for UNISON activists. Bringing news, briefings and events from a progressive left perspective.

Friday, 5 November 2010

CCT or Treasury dictat - which will it be?‏

According to a Cabinet Office news release the ‘Government is united in its drive to open up public services so the best providers get the job’ and Decentralisation Minister Greg Clark has said that he wants ‘local voluntary groups to have the right to deliver more services locally so that the sector are not confined to a walled-off part of councils' budgets’. http://www.communities.gov.uk/newsstories/communities/1759026

If they are taking in terms of ‘rights’ to deliver public services the only way this could be achieved by one of two ways. Firstly they could seek to open up a route to compulsory competitive tendering (CCT), which would create problems with EU legislation as you can’t generally limit contracts to local voluntary or third sector providers, or secondly, and most likely they would seek to impose centrally driven Treasury controls on the proportion of council money that must be spent in certain services with the voluntary or third sector providers. This is precisely what the Tories did with residential care for the elderly in the late 1980’s.

Aside from the fact that it jars completely with their supposed agenda on giving councils greater freedom and flexibilities over local budgets it is a pathetic attempt to engineer the failed Big Society’ idea. The voluntary and third sector are not ‘free providers’. It will still cost money to provide services through these routes and yet the Government claims efficiencies. That means the real savings will be found by undermining pay, conditions and pensions.

As most union reps who have every dealt with voluntary sector employers will know it is hardly cup cakes and tea when negotiating with a sector dogged by an inherent lack of HR skills, knowledge of employment law and yes lack of understanding in many cases about public service delivery. The public sector does not have the luxury of opting in or out of providing certain services in the way that the voluntary and third sector do. Lack of capacity, poor history on employee relations, as our members working in the sector will tell us, and yet central dictat forcing councils down a route that even Tory councillors quietly admit that they do not want.

Public services delivered by the third or voluntary sector will merely create a veil of outward facing conscience to excuse the attacks on the public sector from a bitter right wing administration.

Anna Rose