Poll finds public demand for consultation on public-sector outsourcing

Poll finds 68% of the UK public want to be consulted on public-sector outsourcing, with Labour and UKIP supporters most in favour

A poll of over 1,000 people found 68% of the UK public want to be consulted on public-sector outsourcing, with Labour and UKIP supporters most in favour

The poll, conducted by campaign group We Own It, found half of the respondents are not in favour of outsourcing public-sector IT and would like to see more services run in-house.

The public sector outsources substantial amounts of business and social services, and IT outsourcing is common. According to research from Information Services Group (ISG), the UK public sector has spent about 70% more than UK businesses on IT outsourcing and business process outsourcing (BPO) over the two years up to July 2014.

The We Own It poll found only 22% think more public services should be outsourced to the private sector.

“Government hands over our public services to private providers under the veil of 'commercial confidentiality' – it's old-fashioned and undemocratic. We don't know what's been agreed in our name and with our public money," said Cat Hobbs, director of We Own It. 

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Misunderstanding of outsourcing

"The people affected by public service sell-offs and contracts – whether it's the East Coast line, the National Gallery or local council care services – want to have a say. We need a Public Service Users Bill for transparency and accountability, to put the public interest ahead of vested corporate interests.”

In 2012 the National Outsourcing Association (NOA) published the results of its The Public Perception of Outsourcing research, which claimed there was widespread misunderstanding of outsourcing’s contribution to the economy.

It found 80% of people surveyed by the NOA do not think outsourcing adds value. A total of 65% of respondents believe outsourcing’s main aim is to cut costs; 53% believe its purpose is to reduce staff numbers; and only 27% recognised a local computer company providing IT support to small businesses as an example of outsourcing.

About 340,000 UK workers in the IT services sector generated £48.4bn in UK turnover in 2013, according to a study carried out by Oxford Economics for the Business Services Association.

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