Feeds

Audit commission tells councils to get competitive

If you're going to save £4.9bn, it's time to get creative

Gartner critical capabilities for enterprise endpoint backup

The Audit Commission is urging councils to be more creative in using the market to drive down costs and improve services.

Local authorities need to be more open minded and creative if they are to realise the £4.9bn efficiency savings required following this year's Comprehensive Spending Review, says a new report by the local authorities spending watchdog.

Entitled Healthy Competition, the paper finds that most councils lack the necessary information, skills, and mindset to use market mechanisms to raise service performance standards and achieve better value for money.

The report recommends that councils:

  • adopt a pragmatic approach to using market mechanisms, including competition and contestability, alongside other ways of improving services;
  • improve their commissioning and procurement skills; and
  • collect and use better information about service performance and cost, and information about public service markets.

Audit Commission chair Michael O'Higgins said: "Twenty years ago, many councils thought that competition meant outsourcing services to the private sector. Some believed it was the right thing to do; others resisted it. But the world has moved on.

"Councils should no longer let dogmatic views stand in the way of service improvement or offering value for money. Competition is now a two way street where services may sometimes be improved by councils being able to offer a competitive threat to commercial providers."

The report includes several examples of councils that have taken an active approach to market management to improve services and generate savings. East Cambridgeshire DC, for example, partnered with two neighbouring councils to aggregate demand and acquire economies of scale, in respect of its revenue and benefits service.

Councils can also impose competitive pressure on current providers by creating additional supply. The commission suggests this can be done by either developing a credible inhouse option or a publicly owned trading company, or by encouraging other external providers to enter the market.

A third way is for councils to develop alternative approaches to contracting. In the case of Croydon Council's housing department, this method has generated improved performance on cost, quality, and timeliness, says the report. The council gave contracts of equal size to two providers and incentivised them to outperform each other with the possibility of gaining a greater share of the service in the future.

This article was originally published at Kablenet.

Kablenet's GC weekly is a free email newsletter covering the latest news and analysis of public sector technology. To register click here.

Boost IT visibility and business value

More from The Register

next story
UK fuzz want PINCODES on ALL mobile phones
Met Police calls for mandatory passwords on all new mobes
Munich considers dumping Linux for ... GULP ... Windows!
Give a penguinista a hug, the Outlook's not good for open source's poster child
EU justice chief blasts Google on 'right to be forgotten'
Don't pretend it's a freedom of speech issue – interim commish
Hello, police, El Reg here. Are we a bunch of terrorists now?
Do Brits risk arrest for watching beheading video nasty? We asked the fuzz
Detroit losing MILLIONS because it buys CHEAP BATTERIES – report
Man at hardware store was right: name brands DO last longer
Snowden on NSA's MonsterMind TERROR: It may trigger cyberwar
Plus: Syria's internet going down? That was a US cock-up
UK government accused of hiding TRUTH about Universal Credit fiasco
'Reset rating keeps secrets on one-dole-to-rule-them-all plan', say MPs
Caught red-handed: UK cops, PCSOs, specials behaving badly… on social media
No Mr Fuzz, don't ask a crime victim to be your pal on Facebook
e-Borders fiasco: Brits stung for £224m after US IT giant sues UK govt
Defeat to Raytheon branded 'catastrophic result'
Yes, but what are your plans if a DRAGON attacks?
Local UK gov outs most ridiculous FoI requests...
prev story

Whitepapers

5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup
IT departments are embracing cloud backup, but there’s a lot you need to know before choosing a service provider. Learn all the critical things you need to know.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Build a business case: developing custom apps
Learn how to maximize the value of custom applications by accelerating and simplifying their development.
Rethinking backup and recovery in the modern data center
Combining intelligence, operational analytics, and automation to enable efficient, data-driven IT organizations using the HP ABR approach.
Next gen security for virtualised datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.