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Maude: “We want services to be run by mutuals, social enterprises and small businesses”

By David Bicknell

Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude is to reinforce the message that the government wants its  services to be run and delivered by mutuals, social enterprises and small businesses.

Maude will tell a conference: “In the current climate we can no longer afford waste – demand for services is growing at a time of fiscal constraint.

“But we should not tolerate wasting public money whatever the economic climate. We need to find new ways of delivering public services that are high quality, cost effective and genuinely responsive to the needs of individuals, communities and businesses at local level.

“We believe that nearly all public services can be improved by being delivered by a wide range of organisations. What and how services are delivered are more important than who they are delivered by, and competition breeds innovation and creativity. These in turn will deliver service improvements.

“We want services to be run and delivered by mutuals, social enterprises and small businesses; and we want the talented people who are enthusiastic about what they do to be freed up to deliver services in the way that they think is best.”

Maude’s message comes as most public sector managers say they outsource work to save money, with few believing it leads to improved services.

A survey of 100 human resources directors from government departments, local authorities, NHS trusts and police forces revealed concerns that outsourcing services to private firms would lead to a loss of expertise in the public sector.

The research, by Totaljobs.com, found that almost two-thirds of managers believed outsourcing would cut costs, while only one in four said it would deliver better quality services.

The report will be discussed at the conference aimed at examining the implications on recruitment and skills of Government plans to achieve £40 billion of procurement savings in the next three years

Mike Booker of Totaljobs.com said: “The perception that the skills needed in the public and private sector are somehow different is being swept away by the more pressing need to work together to achieve £40 billion in savings.

“While we’re seeing large numbers of public sector workers looking to migrate to the private sector, it must not be forgotten that essential private sector skills are in high demand in the public sector with our site alone housing 326 postings for public sector procurement professionals.”