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

Friday, 10 August 2012

Tory Cockell sounds wake-up call on outsourcing

It’s as rare as hen’s teeth that I find myself agreeing with Conservative Council leaders but the piece in today’s Financial Times from Sir Merrick Cockell (former leading light amongst the Conservative Councillors Association and now Chair of the LGA) has warned that the days of unquestioned outsourcing belies the reality behind what can be delivered.

The FT states that 'in comments that may jolt the multi-billion-pound outsourcing industry, Sir Merrick Cockell said there had been a period when “public bad, private good” had “almost been a mantra”, accompanied by a belief that “the right way for local authorities to do things was to outsource everything”'

He also ‘gets it’; that outsourcing can be totally inflexible to the needs of the client and lead to whacking great increases in costs. It’s also a reasonably fair reflection to say that local councils have never delivered everything for themselves – most capital projects are ‘bought in’. But this piece perhaps signals the beginning of the end of the unquestioning love affair with outsourcing models as in the cases of Barnet, Southwest One and the like, that has blinkered genuine consideration of in-house alternatives to outsourced models of delivery.

Perhaps this also shows a deeper chasm between the ideological driven central machine of the Conservative Party and the battered Tory Councillors; They have been left with pittances for budgets after local government was offered up on a plate by Eric Pickles for harsher cuts than anywhere else in the public sector. Local Councillors taking a reality check know that the mantra of ‘more for less’ is a con which translates as ‘less for less’. And the private sector are only interested in delivering ‘less for more’ to inflate their profits.

Anna Rose