CPS helps to retain in-house services in Northamptonshire

A CPS report on the alternatives to a strategic partnership with the private sector helped Northamptonshire UNISON retain in-house services. (16/12/04) Northampton County Council and Milton Keynes Council were planning the largest joint strategic partnership in Britain covering a wide range of council services. The project was a government pathfinder project. Amey and HBS were shortlisted. The project was eventually defeated in Northamptonshire but went ahead in Milton Keynes.

Northamptonshire County Council was proposing to transfer over 2000 jobs to the private sector as part of a strategic business partnership with Hyder, in a deal worth an initial £766m. Both branches commissioned CPS to develop an in-house service improvement strategy and the report was widely distributed in the two authorities. CPS also produced briefing papers analysing the bids, held meetings with UNISON members and presented alternative options to the respective councils and Labour Groups. HBS and the council eventually agreed to terminate their relationship due to an ‘unbridgeable financial gap’, effectively recognising the validity of many of the issues highlighted by CPS.

Care Homes Saved in Stoke

CPS assisted in the drawing up of a Best Value alternative to care home closures, cuts and privatisation, saving seven care homes in Stoke-on-Trent. CPS assisted in the development of an alternative to narrow sighted and wholescale residential care home closures. Stoke Council was considering a proposal for the closure of eight care homes in the city but now plans a programme of investment and modernisation, saving all but one home. The decision will retain and improve the Council’s capacity to deliver social care services and save much needed jobs in the City.

CPS had worked with Stoke UNISON and councillors to promote an alternative Best Value solution to privatisation and budget cuts. CPS first prepared a critique of the proposal for privatisation, budget cuts and care home closures. CPS also worked with the UNISON branch, staff and councillors to develop and alternative Best Value report arguing for the retention of the homes and a programme of investment, modernisation and service improvement to meet the challenge of an ageing population and increased demand for social care in the future. Mick Burrows, from Stoke UNISON, said the work of CPS had: “Helped to achieve a result that is second to none“.

Mortgaging our Children’s Future

Mortgaging our Children’s Future is essential reading for LEAs, school governors, trade unionists, campaigners, education professionals and anyone concerned about the future of secondary education in Britain. Much has been written about the wrongs of privatisation of education, but so far there has been no overall analysis of the various policies and initiatives underway in our secondary schools. Mortgaging our Children’s Future is essential reading for LEAs, school governors, trade unionists, campaigners, education professionals and anyone concerned about the future of secondary education in Britain. The report will help those involved in the planning and delivery of secondary education to be much more acutely aware of the key issues in the sector and assist them in assessing policy options.


Sustainable Development in the NHS

A study commissioned by the East of England Public Health Group, the Department of Health and the Health Development Agency, together with regional partners such as the EEDA, EERA, COVER, NSCWDC, Environment Agency and SHAs. This study quantifies the regional health and social care economy (public, voluntary and private sectors); identifies how the NHS can contribute to the East of England Regional Economic Strategy; and identifies strengths, opportunities and barriers to maximise the health and social care economy’s contribution to reducing health inequalities, creating employment and improving community well-being. A Stakeholder event will be held in early September followed by the sub-regional events in November.

Investigators Handbook

A guide to investigating companies, organisations, government and individuals. The Handbook is a unique and practical guide to investigating companies, PFI and partnership projects, public bodies and quangos, developers and contractors, central and local government and international organisations and policies. The Handbook will be of use to local authorities, public bodies, organisations, community groups, journalists, students, and trade unions. It tells you what information is available and how to get it from more than 1500 sources on the world wide web, local libraries and public and private publications.

It also has sections on how to find out about policies, projects and initiatives in health, education, housing, regeneration, criminal justice, roads and transport, utilities, the environment and waste management and a section on investigating internationally. The Investigator’s Handbook was originally published in 1975 as part of Community Action magazine and sold more than 8000 copies. Now OUT OF PRINT

Promoting Gender Equality in the Public Sector

Research which examines the strategic approaches adopted by selected public sector organisations to promote gender equality and the case for a public sector duty on gender. Written by Karen Escott & Dexter Whitfield. Published by the Equal Opportunities Commission. The report was commissioned by the EOC to provide further evidence which could be used to support the introduction of a public duty on gender. Case study research was conducted in six selected, named, public sector organisations in Britain (some of which have a formal statutory duty to promote equality of opportunity and some of which do not). The research examines the strategic approaches which the case study organisations currently adopt to tackle gender equality and assesses the extent to which they addressed equality issues when setting their objectives and forming policies. It also examines the case for a public sector duty on gender. Download the report from: www.eoc.org.uk/EOCeng/dynpages/research_gps.asp

Our City is NOT FOR SALE

Exposing the crisis in local democracy; Revealing Labour’s privatisation programme; Disclosing the impact on services, jobs and communities. Our City is NOT FOR SALE: The Impact of National, European and Global Policies (October 2002). Published by Newcastle City Council Trade Unions, researched and written by the Centre for Public Services, the report analyses the current proposals and their implications. Plans for outsourcing, Private Finance Initiatives (PFIs) and Strategic Partnerships, which threaten jobs, services and the local economy.

A move to cabinet government and the creation of partnership boards, quangos and trusts which will undermine local democracy. Going for Growth, a 20 year “regeneration” strategy which offers the private sector an opportunity to take over large parts of the city, creating privatised “urban villages” which will displace rather than benefit the existing communities. These changes are taking place as a result of Labour’s so-called “modernisation” agenda – under which councils are judged by their willingness to embrace privatisation rather than the quality of their services or the opinion of the local community. Examines the corporatisation of the city, the challenge to democratic accountability and local control and an alternative modernisation strategy for Newcastle and nationally.

Newcastle ITRS in-house success

The Centre has worked closely with Newcastle UNISON in their highly successful campaign to get the Information Technology and Related Services contract awarded in-house instead of establishing a £250m joint venture with BT. In September 2002, the city council retained the work in-house. This is a very significant decision in the development of strategic partnerships. CPS worked with the Branch to produce “No Corporate Takeover of Council Services ” which presented the case of in-house capacity for change management and included a detailed analysis of BT’s track record of strategic blunders, outsourcing, cuts and closures.


Milton Keynes / Northamptonshire SSP

Milton Keynes Council and Northamptonshire County Council are considering a joint strategic partnership for a large range of corporate and support services.

The Centre has been a devising the two UNISON branches and has produced an alternative plan “A New Vision for Local Government in Milton Keynes and Northamptonshire” available on the the CPS website. We have also provided the branches with an assessment of the two bids from Amey and Hyder and made a presentation to Milton Keynes Council.

Privatising Justice

A report commissioned by the Justice Forum demands an immediate end to all Private Finance Initiative and Public Private Partnerships projects and a substantial increase in public sector capital investment in the Criminal Justice System. The report was written and researched by the Centre for Public Services (CPS) and concludes that the U.K. already has the most privatised Criminal Justice System in Europe. The Justice Forum which comprises all major unions in the justice system believes that privatisation is a bar to joined-up and effective justice because of the inflexibility of contracts, the length and complexity of the procurement process and the poor performance of information technology. In addition PFI is at least twice as expensive as public sector investment and it results in poorer service delivery. The Labour Government has systematically driven PFI projects within the Criminal Justice System since 1997.

The report concludes that claimed successes for PFI projects are largely an illusion. The cost of three court IT systems rose by 79% above the fixed control price; the transfer of risk is not financial as claimed but on service delivery, but there is little evidence of monitoring of discrimination issues within contracts, there is a lack of evidence of cost savings, a failure to justify best value in planning and procurement and financial information is systematically withheld from the public on “commercial in confidence” grounds. The claim of additional innovation through PFI is also found to be unsubstantiated.

The research finds that nearly all private contractors employ new staff on lower rates of pay, with fewer holidays and limited sick pay entitlement. Staff in private jails are paid 25% less on average than their state counterparts. In addition, consultation with trade unions in planning and procurement has been negligible and dominated by secrecy.