HBS sacked by Bedfordshire County Council

Bedfordshire County Council has terminated the £265m Strategic Service-Delivery Partnership contract with HBS Business Services (owned by private equity group Terra Firma) in August 2005. HBS was been given a months notice for breach of contract. Over 500 staff transferred back to the County Council. This is the second SSP contract to be terminated and is a major setback for the Government and business lobby which promoted the SSP concept. Bedfordshire UNISON and the Centre for Public Services produced a detailed report revealing HBSs poor performance in March 2005 – see news items below to download a copy of the report.

ALMOs – National Housing Survey of Elected Members, Tenant and Trade Union representatives

The Centre for Public Services and Defend Council Housing are carrying out a national survey on behalf of the House of Commons Council Housing Group to assess the views of tenants associations and federations, elected members, trade unions and housing organisations on their perspective for the future of a Arms Length Management Organisation (ALMO).  ALMOs were initially promoted as a short-term solution to access additional investment to meet the Decency Standard by 2010 in local authority areas where tenants and, perhaps, elected Members, were known to be opposed to stock transfer.

There are now, as predicted, vested interests keen to expand the role of ALMOs and move them even further away from local authorities. Many ALMOs have already/are considering outsourcing repairs and maintenance and other services. Yet in many authorities tenants were given the clear promise that once Decent Homes had been achieved the homes would revert back to council management. In other authorities tenants were assured that the ALMO would only involve a cosmetic change and they wouldn’t notice any difference.

Economic and Social Audit for the North West

The final report of a three-year scrutiny of regional performance for the North West Regional Review, published by the North West Regional Assembly. The report examines progress in eleven targets – sustainable economic performance, investment, employment, skills, productivity, innovation, enterprise, urban, rural, regeneration and physical development. It examines progress towards social justice in the North West, assesses the impact of external opportunities and challenges to regional performance and recommends a new approach to assessing regional performance.

Democratic Governance and the Future of the City

A joint project by Centre for Public Services and the Sustainable Cities Research Unit, University of Northumbria involving the Wainwright Trust, Millfield House Foundation, Newcastle UNISON, the Public and Commercial Services Union and the Northern Region of the TUC.  The first theme is an analysis of the ‘state of governance’ and the systematic erosion of democratic institutions through neoliberalism and corporatisation and marketisation in particular. It will also examine alternatives strategies how a multi-cultural and sustainable city built on social justice can be created. The second theme is the relationship between democracy and the quality of life. This theme will examine how more sustainable local and regional economies can be developed, enhancing both urban and rural quality of life.

Swansea City Council ICT

The Centre provided assistance to the ICT Staff Employment Model Team between December 2004 and April 2005 who were assessing three employment options in the outsourcing of ICT services. Despite the staff making a strong case for a secondment/mixed economy model, the City Council decided to opt for full outsourcing.

Strategic Partnership in Crisis

An investigation of the performance of the Strategic Service-Delivery Partnership between HBS Business Services Group and Bedfordshire County Council. Bedfordshire County Council agreed a £267m Strategic Service-Delivery Partnership with HBS Business Services Group in June 2001 and transferred 550 staff to HBS.

Bedfordshire UNISON commissioned the Centre to undertake an evaluation of the Strategic Partnership. The study revealed that the partnership was in crisis and had failed to deliver improvements in the quality of services,  the software system for schools failed to be implemented, a promised National Centre of Excellence in Education and a Bedfordshire Regional Business Centre and new jobs. The Centre examined County Council and partnership documents and interviewed several County Council and HBS staff.