A free online guide for buyers has been developed to help improve the UK government’s outsourcing of public services.
The Institute for Government, which built the guide, said the impending spending review would “commit to outsourcing more public services to save government money and reduce the deficit, but recent scandals throw into question its ability to manage those contracts”.
The guide includes an explanation of public service market systems and advice on how to manage markets more effectively. It also contains a tool to provide a tailored report for specific services with practical suggestions for addressing identified risks.
The IfG said the shutdown of the charity Kids Company, which provided child care services, was “the most high profile recent example of criticism over Whitehall’s ability to manage contracts” but it referred to overcharging for electronic tagging and staffing at the Olympics.
Jo Casebourne, IfG programme director, said: “Many of our schools, care homes, prisons, and other public services are now run by private providers who receive taxpayers’ funding. The public services industry is worth approximately £90 billion today, and is still growing.
“The prime minister will only be able to deliver on his promise of ‘delivering more for less’ when civil servants are able to work with these providers more effectively. That is what makes the IfG’s work in this area – and an online guide like this – so important in the current fiscal environment.”
George McFarlane, head of public services at the CBI, said: “The relationship between the government and businesses shouldn’t just be about two signatures on a contract – partnership is essential and firms want to see dialogue by default as the transformation of public services begins to take shape.”