Should we expect outsourcing U-turns in local government?

Recent weeks has seen a controversial outsourcing contract at Cornwall council in the news. The controversy has led to council resignations and a vote of no confidence in the leader.

Read this blog to see how the whole saga unfolded: What now for Cornwall Council outsourcing?

I have used the story as an opportunity to run a survey to get peoples’ views on outsourcing in local government. I have now had 64 people respond to my survey.

– 48 said that local government services should not be run by private companies.

– 11 said they should and 5 said they didn’t mind.

Below is the survey if you want to add your views and some weight to the sample.

The survey asked people for the reason for their answer. Not everyone gave a reason but here are some of the comments already left.

Those against outsourcing local government services said the reasons not to are:

“Security concerns on data.”

“Conflict of interests.”

“Private companies tend not to be accountable to the public.”

“Private companies have the shareholder and profit as there number one motive, public sector, if run effectively, is run for the customer & value for money for the taxpayer.”

“Because we are living in a democracy, and the decision needs to be made by the people.”

“Local government should not be run for profit. This sort of thing will lead to conflict of interest.”

“It’s undemocratic.”

“Loss of control and worse staff conditions.”

“Because private companies over-promise and under-deliver.”

“History proves low value – low accountability – no genuine outsourcing of risk.”

“Loss of democratic control and flexibility.”

“Too many failures and cost to the tax payer.”

“Same staff, same salaries, profit for company, how can that be cheaper? By cutting back on staff, which is what Mouchel are doing in IT at Bournemouth.”

“Complexity of services will never fit a solely for profit model.”

Those that said local government services should be outsourced said:

“Cost savings less bureaucracy.”

“Best value.”

“Because private companies have access to economies of scale and expertise that no local government organisation can ever access.”

“Because private companies use current and up to date practices.”

“Better service and better value, councils should be run for their consumers not their employees.”

“Many times government needs the employee for short term projects and it’s not possible every time to recruit. On that time is better to deal with private company to recruit the people for the short time.”

“Why not?”

Those that don’t mind if local government services are outsourced said:

“It’s about what is best for the resident/citizen and provides public purpose value to them at an acceptable cost.

Judging by this survey there could be a few outsourcing U-turns on the horizon.

What do you think?