HCT Group is a social enterprise that provide local transport that helps the elderly. © Alex Grace Photography
HCT Group is a social enterprise that provide local transport that helps the elderly. © Alex Grace Photography

Public 'prefers social enterprises to private sector' for outsourcing

11 July 2019

There needs to be a shift in outsourcing models towards using “purpose-driven organisations” for the delivery of local public services, according to a survey. 

Research by YouGov, in collaboration with Social Business International, found that nine out of 10 people, who expressed a preference, would prefer public services to be delivered by social enterprises as opposed to the private sector.

YouGov revealed that people believe social enterprises would bring better value for money, higher expertise and higher social value than the private sector. Two fifths (42%) of people responded that social enterprises “can provide local authorities with good value for money,” while only 19% thought the private sector could.

More than a third (37%) of respondents agreed social enterprises have the expertise to provide the services, compared to only a quarter (26%) who believed the private sector did.

Half (51%) agreed that it is a risk to outsource local public services to private companies, while 24% said it is a risk to subcontract to social enterprises.

Eight in 10 (84%) respondents were aware that the public sector outsources services. 

Current enterprises that deliver public service include Catch22, a non-profit that delivers social care and health and well-being services, and the HCT Group, which provides local transport services.

Jonathan Bland, managing director of Social Business International, said: “Local authorities need to take this YouGov research seriously. The mood has changed: the public wants a different model of outsourcing that they trust, one which uses profits to benefit society rather than building shareholder value.”

Social enterprises make up £60bn of UK GDP and comprise 100,000 organisations, according to a separate report from Social Enterprise UK.

Speaking at the YPO World of Procurement conference in London, Jeremy Brim, director at The Bidding Toolkit, warned that procurement professionals “need to do more to drive the sector and partner with social enterprises, and push the message that they are real organisations that deliver fantastic services”. 

A recent report by UWS-Oxfam Partnership and the University of the West of Scotland also recommended that the Scottish public sector needs to provide more opportunities for social enterprises in public contracts.

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