A National Insourcing Strategy for Local Government

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2022 Local Government Service Group Conference
17 February 2022

Conference congratulates the Neath Port Talbot Local Government Branch on the resounding success of their campaign to bring leisure services back in-house. Following a concerted campaign by the branch, on 1 February 2022 Neath Port Talbot Council made the unprecedented decision not to renew their contract with Celtic Leisure Trust, or seek another provider, but instead bring leisure services back under full council control. Bringing the services back in-house will bring about an end to nearly 20 years of outsourced leisure provision which has seen a two-tier workforce emerge between front line staff and management, poor management practices, a demoralised workforce and the proliferation of zero hour and casual contracts.

Behind the headlines lays a sustained, tactical campaign led by the branch. This included a petition signed by over 3800 people, protracted negotiations, public demonstrations, a webinar for councillors, the rebuttal of legal challenge, APSE involvement, tactful political lobbying, multiple press releases, social media videos and graphics.

Other in-sourcing developments in Wales include a decision by Powys County Council earlier this year to end a joint venture company with Kier which will bring maintenance staff back in house by July 2022. In Blaenau Gwent a decision has recently been taken to bring Silent Valley Waste back under full council control largely due to influence from the trade unions working in partnership.

Conference recognises the effort that such campaigns can take to win but the outcome is to be celebrated and used as a springboard for further success across UNISON. We must use these positive examples to serve as models for best practice and learning.

Conference therefore calls on the Local Government Service Group Executive to:

1)Campaign for continued in-sourcing of contracted out services in Local Government across the UK, sharing best practice and positive news stories across regions;

2)Develop a national public facing campaign, making best use of social media, to explain the benefits of in-sourced services;

3)Work with the Private Contractors Unit to support the development of a national data base of contracted out services to support regional organising strategies;

4)Disseminate contract end date details to regions using the current approach in home care services as an example of good practice;

5)Support regions and branches to develop organising capacity to negotiate for in-sourcing, including identifying target employers across regions;

6)Provide updated training for branches and organisers on contract negotiation using best practice in-sourcing models;

7)Support a reflection and learning approach when in-sourcing campaigns are won or lost;

8)Empower UNISON’s position by encouraging branches to consider commissioning organisations like APSE to look beyond the narrow assessment of short-term costs commonly set out in the options analysis of a procurement process, providing a platform to identify long term financial and social investment opportunities that benefits public services and our communities.