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2017 Local Government Service Group Conference
14 February 2017
Carried as Amended

Conference notes that outsourcing and privatisation constitute a failed economic model for local government services. It only serves to reduce our members’ pay, terms and conditions and maximise profits for contractors, consultants and shareholders.

Conference also notes that services get worse following privatisation and outsourcing. Private companies have a legal duty to reward shareholders, so profit is the driver rather than public service. Costs go, up not down. Shareholders receive dividends, top executives get paid more and investment does not happen. Accountability is removed from local authority contracts and workers are undermined, with two-tier workforces introduced. Services become fragmented and less joined up.

According to the National Audit Office, Atos, Capita, G4S and Serco are the four biggest outsourcing companies in the UK, receiving more than £4 billion a year to run many of our public services.

The public is against outsourcing and privatisation. We Own It commissioned polling which shows that people do not trust these companies to do a good job:

1) Only 21% of the public trust outsourcing companies, and 64% distrust them;

2) 69% of the public think Atos, Capita, G4S, Serco are motivated by maximising profit – while 38% think this should be important;

3) 22% of the public think Atos, Capita, G4S and Serco are motivated by providing the best service to the public – while 80% think this should be important;

4) Only 16% think there is adequate regulation of private companies running public services, compared to 59% who think more regulation is needed.

Against this background, the government is encouraging more privatisation, the outsourcing of children’s social care to so-called trusts and supporting the creation of Public Service Mutuals (PSM). Spinning out to a trusted name such as a co-operative or mutual is a way of deceiving the public into thinking the service is still provided by the local authority or that there is a high degree of control. This is not the case.

Conference therefore calls on the local government service group executive to:

a) Continue to campaign for services to be delivered in-house;

b) Provide branches and regions with model procurement agreements and briefings on achieving in-sourcing;

c) Provide resource and briefing material on alternatives to outsourcing and privatisation to local councillors and decision makers, such as income generation options and advice on challenging the outsourcing narrative;

d) Work with relevant partners in local government to document and case study contracts outsourced to PSMs;

e) Continue to provide an online knowledge base of information on mutuals;

f) Analyse and inform branches and regions on the impact of the negotiations to leave the European Union on procurement law, and work with UNISON’s NEC to influence new UK laws to favourably support in-house services.