Cabinet Office Minister Francis Maude tells private sector: ‘Come and knock on our door’

By David Bicknell

Cabinet Office Minister Francis Maude has insisted that large private sector service providers are still a part of the Coalition’s pluralist vision for the delivery of public services.  Although the volume of conventional outsourcing will decline,Maude challenged the private sector to engage with the Government and to pioneer new ways of working.
Talking to members of the Business Services Association, Maude laid out his vision of a new chapter in public/private sector collaboration. Giving the Association’s Annual Lecture,  Maude urged private sector contractors to work with him to realise the opportunities to reform the delivery of public services.
As the public sector represents some 40% of the revenue of business services companies, there was ‘standing room only’ to hear Maude’s vision of the future. He referred to this interdependence to justify his call for a shared effort in looking for efficiencies. Whilst the inherited budget deficit lends an edge to the Government’s reforming drive, Maude was keen to look beyond mere cost savings to facilitate new approaches to accountability and stakeholder involvement. Referring to staff consultation over reform, he sees there is potential to energise and challenge Government from within and set out his mission to “set this passion for the public service ethos free” from the shackles of outmoded workplace practices. But he also realises that this objective cannot be realised solely from within and he is looking to establish relationships with the big service providers to help the Government on its way. And in particular, he sees the need for the large players to work with mutuals, SMEs and charities to find new models for the delivery of services.
Commenting on the address,  Michael Ryley, Head of Support Services at Pinsent Mason, the Annual Lecture’s sponsor said: “The Government is clearly conscious of the difficulty of driving change from within a public sector workforce which is steeped in a tradition of delivering services in a certain way.  Given that modern procurement creates the potential for workforces to move seamlessly between private and public sector employers, the Government is clearly attracted by encouraging flexibility and using private sector expertise to energise the public service ethos.” 

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