Tag Archives: Cameron

CSC ambivalent on prospects of new NHS IT deal

By Tony Collins

CSC is not quite as confident as it was on new NPfIT contracts

CSC is meeting UK Government officials next month to discuss the company’s £3bn worth of NHS IT contracts. It follows a review of the NPfIT contracts by the Cabinet Office’s Major Projects Authority.

It’s likely officials will discuss a major revision of CSC’s contracts – and possibly an end to them. The Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude is thought to favour termination but the Health Secretary Andrew Lansley, on the advice of NHS Chief Executive Sir David Nicholson, wants to keep CSC in a revised NPfIT.

Recommendations from the Cabinet Office have gone to David Cameron for a decision.

In a conference call yesterday on the company’s first quarter results CSC’s executives said the outcome of the NHS contracts represented an “elevated” risk factor.  But they said CSC is still on target for signing a new deal.

Mike Laphen, CSC’s Chief Executive, said his company has included in its forecasts about $250m [£155m] of NHS turnover until the end of its financial year in April 2012. Any delay in reaching a new deal in September could affect the $250m forecast said Laphen.

He said: “Right now we are assuming that we are still on target with the MoU [Memorandum of Understanding between CSC and the Department of Health]. We are absolutely staffed up ready to execute. We’ve got the products in the delivery pipeline and we believe we have the demand…”

On its NHS work CSC continues to “execute and deliver against our current commitments across primary and secondary care”. CSC’s iSoft “Lorenzo” remains in production routinely supporting daily operations at three early adopter sites.

“We are progressing delivery modules… including emergency care and outpatient prescribing which are anticipated to be installed at the University Hospitals Morecambe Bay once an agreement is reached with the authority,” said a CSC spokesman.

The company told analysts that for its 2012 financial year “there are still a number of large balls still in the air” which include the NHS contract, integration of iSoft and US government spending. “Our business is sound and we have one of the strongest balance sheets in our industry,” said the company.

UK IT market analysts Techmarketview said CSC’s management team “isn’t quite as confident of a positive outcome [on talks over NHS contracts] as it was a few months ago – and rightly so.”

CSC also noted there had been a “significant shift in the market”  from outsourcing to cloud, though with cloud many companies are still deciding “what they’re going to do, or not do”.

MP contacts No 10 and Cabinet Office on CSC’s NHS IT contracts.

BT slammed over NPfIT value-for-money claim.

Was NPfIT really a programme?

Trust forced to buy NPfIT software or face fine

NPfIT has proved unworkable – BCS

Will CSC’s £3bn NHS IT contract be cancelled?

By Tony Collins

Several people have asked us whether the Cabinet Office’s Major Projects Authority will cancel  CSC’s NPfIT contract or whether draft memorandum of understanding between the Department of Health and the supplier will be finalised and signed.

The position is that a deal with CSC has not yet been agreed – and it’s not clear when it will be. Recommendations from the Cabinet Office’s Major Projects Authority have gone to David Cameron, according to yesterday’s Observer.

We’ve also been asked whether the The Major Projects Authority has any authority over CSC’s NPfIT contracts.

In January Downing Street  gave the Cabinet Office a mandate to “intervene” in projects that are poor value for money, have hit delays or are failing. If there’s a dispute between the Major Projects Authority and a department, the Cabinet Office can ask David Cameron for a decision.  So if the Major Projects Authority wants to cancel the CSC NPfIT contract it can – up to a point.

If the DH doesn’t agree, and it probably wouldn’t, it would be up to Cameron, who would probably back the Cabinet Office’s decision. It would then be the DH that dealt with the consequences.

The Major Projects Authority is under a clear-thinking Australian David Pitchford who is understands what goes wrong with big IT projects and why. He reports to Ian Watmore who also has a good understanding.

These are some of the reasons Pitchford gives for failing government IT-based projects:

1.Political pressure
2. No business case
3. No agreed budget
4. 80% of projects launched before 1,2 & 3 have been resolved
5. Sole solution approach
6. No timescale
7. No defined benefits

Most of these apply to the NPfIT.

One view about what should happen is that at least the part of the CSC contract that relates to acute hospitals should be cancelled, and the NHS should be under no further contractual obligation to buy from CSC – that was always an artificial device. CSC should be under no further obligation to deliver to the NHS.

CSC’s obligation has been a means of Whitehall, through CSC, maintaining some control over trusts and justifying a large central team. End that obligation and you don’t need a large central team. Last week’s Public Accounts Committee report on the NPfIT detailed care records systems said that NHS CfH has 1,300 people.

Whatever happens CSC will maintain a strong  presence in the NHS, at least through its purchase of iSoft. Many trusts with iSoft systems are likely to replace them with iSoft – CSC – products. Patient administration systems are huge investments and changing them can be risky.

EC procurement rules mean that trusts will need to go open tender when their existing contracts expire but some will find ways of awarding new contracts to existing suppliers, if that’s their wish.

So CSC’s future in the NHS is assured, whatever happens with its NPfIT contracts.

Excerpts from report on GovIT: Recipe for rip-offs – time for a new approach

By Tony Collins

Today’s comprehensive report on the government’s use of IT is replete with strong and important messages, particularly on the domination of government IT by a small number of large suppliers, so-called systems integrators.

That said, Techmarketview, which tracks developments in the IT supplier market, has today attacked the report of the Public Administration Select Committee.  Techmarketview’s analyst Georgina O’Toole concedes she has not looked carefully at the full report but says she is irritated by the summary’s sensationalism.

It may be worth remembering that Parliamentary committees compete with each other for media attention. A bland report will be pointless: it won’t be read. Today’s report of the PASC, though, seeks more often than not to give the balacing view whenever it says something tendentious.  

For ease of explanation the Committee’s report “Recipe for rip-offs – time for a new approach” refers to government as if it were a single entity.

But government is, to some extent, at war with itself. The Cabinet Office is trying to have more influence over departments, in encouraging them to use SMEs,  adopt agile methods, simplify working practices and cut costs; and while the Cabinet Office has a mandate from David Cameron to enforce its wishes, in practice departments are giving strong reasons for not acting:

-long-term contracts are already in force

– EC procurement rules mean that SMEs cannot be preferred over other suppliers

– SMEs give insufficient financial assurances and could go bust at any time

– there are not enough internal staff and skills to manage a plethora of smaller companies

– existing (large) suppliers employ hundreds of SME as subcontractors.

There’s a particularly telling passage in the PASC report. It gave details of an exchange between the Department of Work and Pensions and Erudine, an SME. The Committee was given details of the exchange during a private session.

Erudine had given the department a way of migrating a legacy system onto a more modern, cheaper platform, which could generate potential savings of around £4m a year.

A senior DWP IT official rejected the proposal and suggested that the department was maintaining an interest in SMEs for political reasons – the government’s wish for 25% of contracts to be given to SMEs. This was part of what the DWP official said to Erudine:

“.. we have as you know an ‘interest’ in having SMEs present and working in the department for good political reasons. So you have other value to us … purely political.

“You guys need to be realistic. I will be very candid with you […] it is a huge amount of bother to deal with smaller organisations. Huge. And we wouldn’t necessarily do that because it doesn’t make our lives simpler.”

The Department declined to comment on the exchange and said the views expressed did not represent its own. It told the Committee that in 2009/10 SMEs made up 29.3% of their supplier base, either as a prime contractor or a subcontractor.

The Committee welcomed this assurance from the Department but added:

“… this account does suggest that attitudes at official level risk undermining ministers’ ambitions to increase the number of SMEs Government contracts with directly”.

These are other extracts from the PASC report:

Overcharging by large suppliers – an obscene waste of public money?

They [SMEs] also alleged that a lack of benchmarking data enabled large systems integrators (SIs) to charge between seven  to ten  times more than their standard commercial costs.


Having described the situation as an “oligopoly” it is clear the Government is not happy with the current arrangements. Whether or not this constitutes a cartel in legal terms, it has led to the perverse situation in which the governments have wasted an obscene amount of public money.

The Government should urgently commission an independent, external investigation to determine whether there is substance to these serious allegations of anti-competitive behaviour and collusion. The Government should also provide a trusted and independent escalation route to enable SMEs confidentially to raise allegations of malpractice.

Vested interests suppress innovation?

We received suggestions from some SMEs that the major systems integrators used legacy systems as leverage to maintain their dominance. Some SMEs reported that there were solutions that could easily transfer data from old platforms, but that a combination of risk aversion and vested interests prevented these solutions being adopted

Large IT contractors are “not performing well”

The Government’s analysis has shown that its large IT contractors are not performing well. A Cabinet Office review in September 2010 of the performance of the 14 largest IT suppliers found that none of them were performing to a “good” or “excellent” level, with average performance being a middling “satisfactory with some strengths”. Some were performing significantly worse.

Openness would help to cut costs

Making detailed information on IT expenditure publicly available for scrutiny would enhance the Government’s ability to generate savings, by allowing external challenge of its spending decisions.

The Government has already taken steps to provide more information about IT projects and expenditure in general, especially through the work of the Transparency Board and its publication of contracts on Contract Finder. To realise the full benefits of transparency, this is not sufficient. More information should be made public by default.

It should publish as much information as possible about how it runs its IT to enable effective benchmarking and to allow external experts to suggest different and more economical and effective ways of running its systems

Will government objectives be achieved?

We received numerous reports from SMEs about poor treatment by both Government departments and large companies who sub-contract government work to SMEs. There is a strong suspicion that the Government will be diverted from its stated policy and that its objective will not be achieved.

The drawbacks of using SMEs as subcontractors to large suppliers

“… subcontracting could lead to the Government paying a high price as it had to cover the margin of both the sub and prime contractor.


SMEs approached us informally to express concerns based on their own experiences of subcontracting. We heard of cases where systems integrators [large IT suppliers] had involved SMEs in the bidding process so they could demonstrate innovation, only for the SME to be dropped after award of contract.

In some of these cases SMEs felt that they have provided innovative ideas which had then been exploited by the larger systems integrators. We were also told by SMEs that by subcontracting with an SI they were barred from approaching government directly with ideas that might allow it to radically transform its services and reduce costs. This was because systems integrators did not want the Government to be provided with ideas that could result in them losing business, or having to reduce costs.

“… When we put these [SME] concerns to the Government we were told that their contracting arrangements did not stop subcontractors speaking directly to Departments…However, during our private seminar with SMEs, we were told that this did not reflect their experiences. SMEs reported that they were instructed to approach the systems integrator first in order to obtain permission to talk to a Department and that some Departments refused to deal with them directly.


We take seriously the concerns expressed by many SMEs that by speaking openly to the Government about innovative ideas they risk losing future business particularly if they are already in a sub-contracting relationship with a systems integator.

Government should deal directly with SMEs

The Government should reiterate its willingness to speak to SMEs directly, and commit to meeting SMEs in private where this is requested. We recommend that the Government establish a permanent mechanism that enables SMEs to bring innovative ideas directly to government in confidence, thereby minimising the risk of losing business with prime contractors.

Is government policy shutting out SMEs even more?

“…the Government has been moving to act as a single buyer to obtain economies of scale… This approach can be counter-productive. The effect of demand aggregation can be to aggregate supply, further concentrating contracts in the hands of a few large systems integrators.

Departments are following instructions from the Cabinet Office Efficiency and Reform Group to switch away from their existing direct SME contracting arrangements in favour of centralised procurement models. This would mean that SMEs would become tier 2 suppliers behind selected large suppliers, preventing SMEs from contracting directly with departments. The Cabinet Office has confirmed that:

Spend is being channelled into three current channels: a) existing framework contracts where spot buying is undertaken centrally (this is known as Home Office Cix), b) department-specific arrangements based on their unique needs (such as FCO’s arrangements with Hays) and c) an existing contract with Capita, owned and managed by DWP and available to all government departments.

It is unclear to us how narrowing the supply channels will create a more open and competitive market. The nature of this supply-side aggregation of SMEs under large contracts appears to be in direct contradiction of the policy articulated by the Minister when he indicated his desire to encourage Departments to secure more direct contracting with SMEs.

“… the Government’s plan to act as a single buyer appears to be leading to a consolidation towards a few large suppliers. This could act against its intention to reduce the size of contracts and increase the number of SMEs that it contracts with directly. We are particularly concerned with plans to move SME suppliers to an “arm’s length” relationship with Government. The Government needs to explain how it will reconcile its intentions to act as a single buyer, secure value for money and reduce contract size to create more opportunities for SMEs.

Procurement barriers for SMEs

The way procurement currently operates favours large companies that can afford to commit the staff and resources to navigate the convoluted processes. It also encourages the Government to confine discussions to as few potential contractors as possible.

If the Government is serious about increasing the amount of work it awards to SMEs it must simplify the existing processes


We recommend that the Government investigate the practices which seem unintentionally to disadvantage SMEs. When contracts and pre-qualifying questions are drawn up thought must be given to what impact they could have on the eligibility and ability of SMEs to apply for work, and whether separate provision should be made for SMEs. We believe it would be preferable if the default procurement and contractual approach were designed for SMEs, with more detailed and bespoke negotiation being required only for more complex and large scale procurements.

Have Departments the people and skills to handle more SMEs?

Increasing the use of SMEs will place extra pressure on departments. The management of smaller organisations is currently outsourced to the large systems integrators.

For example the Aspire framework provides HMRC with access to over 200 IT suppliers. Mr Pavitt, HMRC Chief Information Officer said that:

“managing those individually would be quite a heavy bandwidth for a Government department”.

It is not clear that Departments are willing to take on the additional work that contracting directly with SMEs implies even where this could yield significant savings…

Ministers need to ensure their officials have the skills, capacity and above all the willingness to deliver on ministerial commitments to SMEs.

On agile methods:

“… greater use of agile development is likely to necessitate behaviour changes within Government. As agile methodology requires increased participation from the business to provide feedback on different iterations of the solution, departments will need to release their staff, particularly senior staff with overall responsibility of the project, to allow them to participate in these exercises.

Agile development is a powerful tool to enhance the effectiveness and improve the outcomes of Government change programmes. We welcome the Government’s enthusiasm and willingness to experiment with this method. The Government should be careful not to dismiss the very real barriers in the existing system that could prevent the wider use of agile development.

We therefore invite the Government to outline in its response how it will adapt its existing programme model to enable agile development to work as envisaged and how new flagship programmes will utilise improved approaches to help ensure their successful delivery….

The Government will have to bear in mind the need to facilitate agile development as it renegotiates the EU procurement directive and revises the associated guidance.

Need for more people with the right skills to manage suppliers

Managing suppliers is as important as deciding who to contract with in the first place. To be able to perform both of these functions government needs the capacity to act as an intelligent customer. This involves having a small group within government with the skills to both procure and manage a contract in partnership with its suppliers.

Currently the Government seems unable to strike the right balance between allowing contractors enough freedom to operate and ensuring there are appropriate controls and monitoring in-house.

The Government needs to develop the skills necessary to fill this gap. This should involve recruiting more IT professionals with experience of the SME sector to help deliver the objective of greater SME involvement.

When disaster strikes is anyone responsible?

We are concerned that despite the catalogue of costly project failures rarely does anyone – suppliers, officials or ministers – seem to be held to account. It is therefore important that, when SROs do move on they should remain accountable for those decisions taken on their watch, and that Ministers should be held accountable when this does not happen.

Open source and open standards

Recent initiatives such as the Skunkworks team, dotgovlabs, data.gov.uk, and the Alphagov project suggest that the Government is moving in this direction

Government should omit references to proprietary products and formats in procurement notices, stipulating business requirements based on open standards. The Government should also ensure that new projects, programmes and contracts, and where possible existing projects and contracts, mandate open public data and open interfaces to access such data by default..

Report’s conclusion

“… The last 10 years have seen several failed attempts at reform. The current Government seems determined to succeed where others have failed and we are greatly encouraged by its progress to date.

“Numerous challenges remain and fundamentally transforming how Government uses IT will require departments to engage more directly with innovative firms, to integrate technology into policy-making and reform how they develop their systems.

“The fundamental requirement is that Government needs the right skills, knowledge and capacity in-house to deliver these changes. Without the ability to engage with IT suppliers as an intelligent customer – able to secure the most efficient deal and benchmark its costs – and to understand the role technology can play in the delivery of public services, Government is doomed to repeat the mistakes of the past.”


Jerry Fishenden, adviser to the PASC, gives his view of the report.

Today’s Public Administration Committee report: Recipe for rip-offs – time for a new approach

Government reliance on large IT suppliers is recipe for rip-offs.

Government IT rip-offs – surely time for a new approach – my view of the report

Techmarketview on the report

Good analysis of PASC report – Centre for Technology Policy Research.

Mutuals: Government must deliver on radical public services agenda, says Institute for Government

By David Bicknell

Responding to the Government’s Open Public Services White Paper launched by David Cameron this week, the Institute for Government says the agenda is a radical one, but failure to deliver will come at a cost.

Commenting on the launch, the Institute’s Programme Director, Tom Gash said:

“There’s not much that is new in this white paper but it is still a radical agenda for change. Other governments have tried and failed to remodel public services. The difference this time is that the stakes are higher. With massive cuts to public spending, if these measures don’t work, the state will not be in a position to shore up services.

“A white paper by itself doesn’t change anything. To make this vision a reality, a lot of work lies ahead. Failure to take these next steps in any of the policy areas covered by the paper will lead to the risk of future u-turns, uncertainty and failure”.

The Institute argues that several key issues need to be addressed going forward. These include:

  • Mechanisms for accountability in service delivery must be thought through. Voting in a local election is very different from choosing your GP but in future there are likely to be different combinations of accountability mechanisms for different services.
  • Whilst removing top-down targets  and giving greater autonomy to frontline professionals, government must still be clear on the lowest level of service permissible before this autonomy is withdrawn or restricted.
  • Transparency – data will need to be accurate, timely and accessible if people are going to be able to use it to exercise their choices.
  • Ministers will have to be willing to relinquish power. They’ll still be held responsible for local decisions even though they no longer have control over them.
  • As public services are opened up to new providers, ministers must be absolutely clear about who is responsible for what.
  • Mutuals will need to have the scope to blend state and private investment and not be soley dependent on a single source of funding.
  • Commissioning for outcomes must focus on those outcomes that are measurable. But measuring outcomes is often harder than measuring outputs. For example, it is easy to measure whether a hip operation took place. It is less easy to measure whether or not the operation has improved the patient’s quality of life.

The Institute argues that policies in the white paper are at different stages of their development.  Ministers, central and local government and practitioners will all have work to do if they are to ensure that they are implemented in a way that genuinely improves public services and the lives of citizens. Drawing on its publication Making Policy Better, the Institute recommends that departments will need to:

  • Carry out a “reality check” on policies, involving implementers and/or users of services in testing or piloting them.
  • Consult those affected by changes and address the issues that arise as a result of these consultations.
  • Ensure that policies have been properly costed and that they are resilient to external risks.
  • Make sure the role of central government is properly thought through and that it is clear who is accountable for delivering particular services and the criteria on which they will be judged to have succeeded or failed.
  • Have plans in place for collecting feedback on how policies are being delivered in practice and the mechanisms are in place to act on this feedback.
  • Make sure that policies are implemented in a way that allows government to assess whether they have worked or not and how they can be adapted and strengthened.

 Gash added:

“In order to avoid repeating the experience of the beleaguered NHS reforms, the coalition will need to invest a good deal of time and resources in delivering its radical programme for reforming public services. To publish a white paper and then walk away will not be enough but today’s announcement, with its emphasis on consultation and analysis seems to show that government has learnt from its mistakes and is ready to take the time to deliver something which could change forever the way citizens choose and receive their services”.

Mutuals: white paper offers public services choice as Cameron tells Civil Service to take more risks

It was unfortunate that yesterday’s press conference to launch the Open Public Services White Paper by David Cameron was hijacked by journalists quizzing him on the ongoing News International story.

The event, organised by Reform in Canary Wharf, also featured speakers from big business i.e. the CBI, the consumer organisation Which, and the voluntary sector – “a Coalition in support of the White Paper,” suggested Cameron.

Detailing the public services landscape, Cameron scarcely mentioned mutuals by name, though they do feature significantly in the White Paper itself.

Modernisation of public services, he said, will give people choice and control over the services they use, and end the ‘get what you’re given’ culture.

People will be given more choice to shape the public services they use, putting control in the hands of individuals and neighbourhoods so everyone can benefit from the best public services available.

“I know what our public services can do and how they are the backbone of this country. But I know too that the way they have been run for decades – old-fashioned, top-down, take-what-you’re-given – is just not working for a lot of people.“Ours is a vision of open public services – there will be more freedom, more choice and more local control. Wherever possible we are increasing choice by giving people direct control over the services they use,” said Cameron, who detailed five core principles for modernising public services: choice, decentralisation, diversity, fairness and accountability.

He also made some key points about change and also about risk-taking for those now in the public sector:

“This is the case for change. If we want to compete in the world; if we want to get value for money; and above all if we want the decent, reliable public services that make life better for people, there will be no progress if we stick with the status quo.  What does change look like? It’s about ending the top-down, big government way of running public services,  and bringing in a Big Society approach, releasing the grip of state control and putting power into people’s hands. The old dogma that says ‘Whitehall knows best’ – that is going.”

“We really need to ensure that civil servants and arms length bodies see that there is a clear set of principles to apply: about choice, about diversity, about payment by results, about the role of private and voluntary sectors.

“The biggest challenge for the Civil Service is to try and adapt to this new culture and also a very difficult thing to do, and an easy thing to say, is that actually civil servants will have to take some risks. We all know that in business it is very easy to award the contract to Price Waterhouse. They’ve done it before, they’re an enormous organisation, they won’t fail. I think there’s a similar tendency within the Civil Service. It’s safe to keep it in house and deal with one of the big providers.

“If we really want to see diversity, choice and competition, we have to take some risks and recognise that sometimes there will be a new dynamic social enterprise that has a great way of tackling poverty or drug abuse or helping prisoners go straight, and we do need to take some risks with those organisations and understand that rather like in business, when you have a failure, that that doesn’t mean that the Civil Service has done a disastrous job.

“In business, we try new things in order to do better, and when they don’t work, we sit back and think, ‘How do we do that better next time?’ We do need a sense of creativity and enterprise in our Civil Service which is clearly there….a change of culture, perhaps a different attitude towards innovation and risk and a sense that that will be a good way of driving performance.”


This what the White Paper says about public service mutuals:

6.14 We are doing much more than just sweeping away regulations. We are giving public sector staff new rights to form new mutuals and bid to take over the services they deliver, empowering millions of public sector staff to become their own bosses. This will free up the often untapped entrepreneurial and innovative drive of public sector professionals.

6.15 Ownership and control, through mutualisation, empower employees to innovate and redesign services around service users and communities, driving up quality. We will not dictate the precise form of these mutuals; rather, this should be driven by what is best for the users of services and by employees as co-owners of the business. Options include wholly employee-led, multi-stakeholder and mutual joint venture models.

6.16 The Government will take steps to identify and overcome the barriers placed in the way of public sector workers who want to exercise these rights.

6.17 Public sector employee ownership: the key policies we are already implementing include:

  • Right to Provide – we are giving public sector workers who want to form mutuals or co-operatives to deliver public services a Right to Provide. This will enable public sector workers to form independent, or joint venture based, mutual and co-operative social enterprises. Progress is already being made with a new Right to Provide for NHS staff and opportunities for local authorities to invoke the Right to Challenge;
  • mutual pathfinders – the first wave of employee-led mutual pathfinders was launched in August 2010 with a second wave announced in February 2011. These pathfinders are being mentored by expert organisations as well as leading figures in social enterprise and public service to support their growth and share best practice; the pathfinders will provide critical learning as more employees look to exercise these rights;
  • Mutuals Task Force – Professor Julian Le Grand, one of theUK’s leading thinkers on public service reform, has been appointed to lead a Task Force to push employee ownership across the public sector;
  • Mutuals Support Programme – we will invest at least £10 million in the Mutuals Support Programme, to support some of the most promising and innovative mutuals so that they reach the point of investment readiness. This support will be available from autumn 2011;
  • Enterprise Incubator Unit – this has been set up within the Cabinet Office to provide advice, challenge and resources for public service providers from central government departments and their agencies who want to move from the public sector to the independent sector. The unit will help management teams to restructure themselves and their teams into independent businesses, which may include partners providing finance or expertise, for example through a joint venture;
  • Post Office mutualisation – In May, Co-operativesUK published a report commissioned by the Government on options to transfer Post Office Ltd from government ownership to a mutual run for the public benefit. The Government will carefully consider this report before launching a public consultation later this year; and
  • My Civil Service Pension (MyCSP) – plans have been announced for MyCSP to become the first mutual enterprise to spin out of a central government service. MyCSP administers Civil Service pension schemes for 1.5 million public sector workers. MyCSP’s plans to mutualise, which have the full backing of the Government, will give employees a stake in the new business, alongside government and a private sector partner. The innovative ownership model will be matched by a participative management approach: there has already been a strong turnout in elections for the Employee Partnership Council, through which employees will have a meaningful say in the running of the business.
Enabling new provision

7.7  Creating open public services will require new types of investment in public services: investment of money, inspiration and entrepreneurial effort. The Government will promote the opportunities being created by open public services, tailored to individual sectors. This promotion will aim to support:

  • accessing new forms of external finance – there is an exciting set of opportunities to bring new forms of finance into public services. This includes social investment (e.g. social impact bonds); payment for results on capital improvements (e.g. energy efficiency) and the financing of modernisation programmes (e.g. joint ventures to introduce new technology). Work is under way to develop effective measures of the social impact of investment and to launch the Big Society Bank, which will catalyse the growth of a sustainable social investment market;
  • empowering public sector staff to take control of their own services in new enterprises like mutuals – the creation of mutuals is a critical step in achieving more diversity in public services. However, we recognise that this is a big step to take for both staff and the public body that employs them. We will set out a full range of support available to those who are considering setting up a mutual, in the same way that we seek to stimulate both voluntary and private sector development. This will include a £10 million Mutuals Support Programme to provide support to fledgling mutuals that are being set up to deliver public services by employees leaving the public sector; and
  • actively encouraging new providers, of all sizes and from all sectors, to deliver public services– when we say we want diversity in public services, that is exactly what we mean. We will take active steps to avoid simply switching from one type of monopoly to another. We will launch a positive action programme to improve the awareness of public service opportunities to new providers, especially small and medium-sized enterprises. Many of our policy changes have already opened up attractive new opportunities, for example in the Work Programme and through personal budgets in social care. In addition, we will take positive action on procurement and through regulators to ensure that other opportunities (e.g. in central government procurement) are opened up to new types of provider, be they from the public, private or voluntary sector.

If you want more details, you can access the White Paper here – and the Government has unveiled an Open Public Services website

Mutuals: Financial Times report says the Coalition’s Public Service Reform Plan is On Hold until July

By David Bicknell

A report in the Financial Times has suggested that David Cameron’s plan to free public services “from the grip of state control” has been put on hold until July, in the face of opposition from the Liberal Democrats and public concern over the privatisation of health and social care.

The positive aspect of this story, however, is still that the White Paper has been delayed, not shelved, and that  ‘mid-July’  is still only a few weeks away.

The report says the plan to transform public services through greater use of private providers, mutuals and social enterprises has already been cut back and is now the subject of coalition wrangling.

The FT report says: “Downing St insiders confirmed on Wednesday that the vaunted white paper on reform – originally set for publication in January – is now unlikely to be published until mid-July.

“Mr Cameron has already been forced to abandon a proposal in last year’s comprehensive spending review that the white paper should set quotas for handing over public services to independent providers.

“In February, he promised to create “a new presumption” for public services to be open to a range of providers competing to offer a better service.

“Conservative officials said work was under way to create a white paper that set the framework for the coalition’s approach to the public services, including opening up opportunities for small and medium-sized companies and mutuals.

“An earlier draft largely set out existing government plans, including cutting the cost of Whitehall procurement by centralising much of it, encouraging a million public sector employees to form social enterprises and using payment by results for welfare-to-work and offender rehabilitation.

“Nick Clegg, deputy prime minister, is insisting the final white paper does not pave the way for the wholesale privatisation of public services – resisting a push for a big expansion in independent provision by Mr Cameron’s policy adviser Steve Hilton.

“Nick does not want there to be any sense that the public sector can’t be a provider of good quality public services,” said one Lib Dem official.”