PPP Strategic Service-delivery Partnerships

See Publications section (ESSU reports for public bodies, trade unions and community organisations) for additional reports on strategic-service delivery partnerships.

  • ITRS Retained In-house - Newcastle City Council

    The City Council decided not to proceed with a Strategic Partnership for ICT and related services following a procurement process and to undertake the work in-house. No Corporate Takeover of Council Services is by Newcastle's UNISON's ITRS Evaluation Team assisted by the Centre for Public Services. Part 1: In-House Capacity for Change Management – makes the case for an in-house solution. Part 2: BT Performance – describes the company's strategic blunders, outsourcing and investment record in the North East region.

    In 2001 Newcastle City Council began a procurement process for ICT and corporate services.  UNISON began a series of briefings to Councillors making the case against outsourcing and the failures private contractors and workplace meetings. Following industrial action, the Labour Group agreed that an in-house bid should be prepared. A series of workshops involved senior management, staff and trade unions examined how services could be improved, reorganised together with new ICT systems. The Council gave a commitment to fully engage with staff in the affected services and to involve trade unions. An in-house bid was prepared by a group of senior officers.

    A team of ten shop stewards from the affected services held a day-long evaluation of the BT proposals with the Centre for Public Services (Centre for Public Services, 2002). In September 2002, the City Council Cabinet accepted a £250m ten-year Information Technology and Related Services (ITRS) in-house bid and rejected a bid from BT, which included a proposal for a joint venture company with the City Council (Centre for Public Services, 2002). The in-house option was chosen because it gave better value for money, provided the same investment at lower cost with virtually the same Service Improvement Plan, required fewer job losses, demonstrated it could achieve the required changes and contained a commitment and cooperation from staff and trade unions to in-house transformation.

    A new division, City Service, was created and has since successfully transformed ICT and corporate services and achieved the required savings. It now forms the core of a council-wide transformation strategy. Staff and trade unions have been engaged in the design, planning and implementation of each service improvement initiative and the introduction of new ICT systems (Wainwright and Little, 2009). A retraining and redeployment strategy meant there were no compulsory redundancies.

    City Service successfully bid for and implemented the Information and Communications Technology £16.5m contract for the City Council’s Building Schools for the Future PFI contract in 2006. In the first five years City Service achieved net savings of £28.5m, projected forward over an 11-year period. Additional savings have been achieved.

  • PPP Briefing: Strategic Service-delivery Partnerships and Outsourced Shared Services Projects

    This 20-page Briefing, commissioned by Northumberland, Durham and Northamptonshire UNISON branches, is a summary for elected members, staff and service users of the current evidence against SSPs and outsourcing of shared services projects. It covers finance, savings and investment; accountability and transparency of JVCs; performance; risks levels; employment and job creation; and in-house capability to transform services.

  • PPP Database

    A Database of Strategic Partnerships for local authority ICT, corporate, planning, education, property, police, fire and rescue support services, highway services and waste management in Britain. Annual reports available for 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011 and a combined 2012-2013 report.

    The PPP Database is an annual report, beginning 2007, of the strategic partnership sector with detailed tables of contracts awarded, those in procurement, regional distribution, employment models, private sector market share and local authorities which rejected the this option.

  • Public Private Partnerships: Confidential ‘Research’, A Critique of the Audit Commission’s study of Strategic Service-delivery Partnerships by Dexter Whitfield

    A highly critical assessment of the Audit Commission’s recent report, For Better, For Worse, on Strategic Service-delivery Partnerships. It finds ten fundamental flaws ranging from inadequate methodology, no evidence base, employment issues ignored, no audit of private sector investment and no comparison of an alternative in-house approach. The Commission’s claim that the information on which its findings are based is “commercially confidential” makes a mockery of transparency, performance management, democratic accountability and community engagement. The second section of the report uses quotes from the Audit Commission report to highlight the shortcomings in more detail.

  • Social and Economic Audit: Oldham Strategic Service Delivery Partnership

    Assesses Oldham's planned PPP Strategic Partnership and shows that the project falls well short of the targets and claims made for community cohesion, regeneration and job creation. Oldham Council is proposing a £170m – £260m ten-year Strategic Partnership contract which will transfer property, highways, information and communication technology, customer and exchequer services to a Joint Venture Company (JVC) formed with a group of private contractors. The Council proposes to transfer, rather than second, about 350 council staff to the JVC. A potential second phase of the project would include the transfer of human resources, payroll, financial services and administration to the JVC.

    The report concludes that the Council is embarked on a high risk strategy. The job creation figures are highly questionable, many are not new jobs because they are part of planned major infrastructure projects in Oldham and Mouchel Parkman’s plan is to create a monopoly supply of professional and technical services. The regeneration effect of a Business Centre is overstated. The project is designed to meet the needs of the market rather than the strategic social and economic needs of Oldham – a point conceded by the Council’s advisers, PricewaterhouseCoopers.


  • Somerset ISiS or Crisis? An Assessment of the proposed Strategic Service-delivery Partnership with IBM

    The report is critical of:

    the unprecedented degree of secrecy in a public sector project.
    the continual overuse of commercial confidentiality by the ISiS project team.
    the lack of public consultation and public debate.
    the lack of rigorous scrutiny of the project, to ensure the protection of public services and allay public concerns.

    The report raises major questions about the way the ISiS project has been managed; the absence of any form of public impact assessment of the project; and the adequacy of the proposed retained client structure and governance arrangements. It was commissioned by Somerset County and Taunton Deane DC UNISON branches.

  • Southwest One: Lessons and New Agenda for Public Services in the South West

    Somerset County Council and Taunton Deane District Council signed a £400m Strategic Service-delivery Partnership contract with IBM in September 2007. The Joint Venture Company, Southwest One, is the first SSP to have a framework agreement to enable other local authorities and public bodies to obtain services bypassing the procurement process. It is also the first to potentially include a Police Authority as a partner (Avon and Somerset Police Authority negotiating to join the partnership) and the first to combine secondment with a 10-year assurance to staff in the founding authorities. This report exposes the unprecedented use of commercial confidentiality in the procurement process, identifies effective ways for UNISON to respond to the new agenda and ensure a good industrial relations framework in Southwest One. It also proposes regional and national public policy changes to improve the accountability and transparency of options appraisal and procurement processes.

  • Strategic Partnership in Crisis - Bedfordshire County Council (Contract Terminated)

    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 for Public Services to undertake an evaluation of the Strategic Partnership. The study revealed that the partnership was in crisis and had failed to deliver many of the contractual commitments. The report – Strategic Partnership in Crisis – was published in April 2005 and highlighted how the strategic partnership was not delivering improved services or new jobs.

    The following documents include: Strategic Partnership in Crisis report (2005), a Centre for Public Services presentation to Bedfordshire CC staff (2005), the Bedfordshire CC/HBS Business Services Termination Agreement (2005) and the original report by the Centre for Public Services for Bedfordshire CC UNISON in 2000 making the case against a strategic partnership. Plus the Bedfordshire CC formal response to the Centre for Public Services report for UNISON when they engaged the law firm Eversheds to prepare a response to our criticism that the County Council had failed its Best Value responsibilities. The response reflects a very narrow interpretation of the duties of Best Value and consultation.