3rd sector and efficiency - baths and babies

28 Jan 2010 by Karl Hallam

Council taxpayers will be intolerant if told front lines services are being cut back when their local authority hasn’t made every effort to be as efficient as possible, Communities Secretary John Denham warned this week. He also said that councils shouldn’t ignore the social outcomes the third sector can provide such as jobs for the workless or better services, in the stampede the hunt down the cheapest deal. These two lines from the Secretary of State for Communities came from two separate press releases both relating to a speech he made to the New Local Government Network.

The effiecieny one was released first and highlighted Total Place pilot cost savings including:

It also announced 'Scrutiny powers for councils will be extended to exercise greater influence over all the spending in their area in line with the Total Place approach'. This is interesting as it mirrors some of the thinking we have done in our work for LGYH and the business case for local government.

Some might mischeviously suggested that the second press release might have been an afterthought to ensure the impression that a cheapest is best approach is being advocated, whoever the provider is. John Denham is quoted directly and says that:

"It does not make sense to exclude the many excellent voluntary and third sector providers. They may not offer the cheapest contract in terms of narrowly defined cost/benefit in the short-term. But they can deliver important additional social outcomes such as jobs for the workless and marginalised and better quality service which saves money in the long run.

"Third sector organisations - as well as groups of local public service employees and new private sector providers - must have the chance to show how they could deliver the outcomes local people want by new ways of working, and new ways of delivering services - not just asked to compete to deliver the current services at the lowest possible cost.

"I have a real concern that the third sector is not getting the opportunity to play its part in the big issue of public service reform locally".

Interestingly he then adds that, "I have invited in representatives from local government and the third sector to discuss the issues and look at how we can address this."

Cadence's work on the relationship betweent the VCF sector and public agenices in Sheffield looked specifically at these issues and laid out an approach to that addresses some of the challenges Denham highlights. The Sheffield City Council Cabinet has recently approved the strategy. See the cabinet papers and report summary here.



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