The Centre acted as an “external challenger” to Darlington Council’s Best Value review on regeneration services. The review focussed on economic development and community involvement. The work included making an initial assessment of the approach adopted to the review, presentation to the review team and a subsequent report containing a number of detailed recommendations.
The Centre is the procurement and contracts adviser to the Stonebridge Tenants Advancement Committee (STAC) for the regeneration of the Stonebridge Housing Action Trust.
The Centre has commenced a national two year research project of strategic partnerships in local government. It will focus on eight case study authorities – six which have outsourced services and two which have developed in-house improvement programnmes. We will also be monitoring strategic partnerships in other authorities and assessing national trends and developments. The project will be producing detailed evidence, briefing papers and other material for UNISON.
In autumn 2000, Salford City Council considered the possible outsourcing of financial and legal services. Although the Cabinet concluded that much of the potential savings from outsourcing financial services could be achieved by reorganisation, further work was carried out on four options.
Salford UNISON published a report ‘Privatising Salford? An Alternative to the Outsourcing of Council Services‘ in December 2000 from the Centre for Public Services. The aims of the report were to assess the implications of a strategic partnership for corporate support services, to identify the costs and risks of such a strategy and to inform Elected Members and staff of an alternative approach for Salford.
In summer 2001, a Social, Economic and Environmental Audit provided detailed evidence of the social, economic and environmental impact of options on the community, local economy, the labour market and the sub-regional economy. It included a detailed analysis of the residential location of staff and the impact of employment change. The report included an assessment of the proposals on community well-being and on particular groups in the community. In August 2001, the city council decided not to outsource services and to continue with its in-house improvement programme. 40 pages.
Report commissioned by Bradford UNISON critically examining the scale of city council’s ‘change programme’. Details privatisation plans including the education strategic partnership, proposed transfer of the city’s housing stock to local housing companies, private involvement in information and communications technology, asset management joint venture and the establishment of a city centre company. The analysis also highlights the risks to frontline service delivery and the wider social and economic impact on some of the most deprived wards in Britain. A series of recommendations presents coherent alternatives to the outsourcing agenda. 32 pages. Published April 2001.
The third report written by the Centre for the Residents Action Group for the Elderly (RAGE) and Birmingham UNISON focusses on the relationship between the proposed privatisation of residential care, race and gender implications and Best Value. Transfer and proposed unit cost reductions are predicted to directly impact on the quality of care and to increase inequality in Birmingham. The impact of privatisation on staff would fall directly on large numbers of women and black and ethnic minority groups who are already amongst the lowest paid working for the city council. The report highlights the contradictions of the council’s own policies for community well-being and Best Value and makes a series of recommendations. 50 pages. Published July 2001.
A critique of the Outline Business Case for the Newcastle-North Tyneside Street lighting PFI project. This document demonstrates how the OBC has over £16m of cost savings and efficiencies built into the financial model in order to make the PFI appear to provide value for money. The report challenges the basis of these assumptions. It also shows, using detailed traffic accident data, how the community safety and social benefits from reduced road accidents and crime have been exaggerated.
A new report from the Centre for Public Services investigates the impact of the growing trend of using Private Finance Initiatives (PFI) and Public Private Partnerships (PPP) to fund public services. What future for public services? charts the history of PFI from their Conservative origins to the Labour government’s use of such projects. The report explains the alleged rationale behind these initiatives before providing a comprehensive series of points that are highly critical of them. An entire section of the report highlights twenty-five reasons to oppose PFI. They range from the expense of such projects, many of which cost more than publicly financed ones, to their lack of democratic accountability.
Drawing on the Centre’s research on PFI/PPPs over the last seven years, the report also details the overlapping business interests of the major companies which are at the core of the PFI industry (see section). What future for public services? provides a thorough critical evaluation of the seismic shifts which are slowly altering the way in which the nation’s public services are funded, whilst providing a set of alternatives to these projects.