Feeds

Audit commission tells councils to get competitive

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

Top three mobile application threats

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.

High performance access to file storage

More from The Register

next story
Putin tells Snowden: Russia conducts no US-style mass surveillance
Gov't is too broke for that, Russian prez says
One year on: diplomatic fail as Chinese APT gangs get back to work
Mandiant says past 12 months shows Beijing won't call off its hackers
Lavabit loses contempt of court appeal over protecting Snowden, customers
Judges rule complaints about government power are too little, too late
MtGox chief Karpelès refuses to come to US for g-men's grilling
Bitcoin baron says he needs another lawyer for FinCEN chat
Don't let no-hire pact suit witnesses call Steve Jobs a bullyboy, plead Apple and Google
'Irrelevant' character evidence should be excluded – lawyers
Edward Snowden on his Putin TV appearance: 'Why all the criticism?'
Denies Q&A cameo was meant to slam US, big-up Russia
EFF: Feds plan to put 52 MILLION FACES into recognition database
System would identify faces as part of biometrics collection
Record labels sue Pandora over vintage song royalties
Companies want payout on recordings made before 1972
Ex-Tony Blair adviser is new top boss at UK spy-hive GCHQ
Robert Hannigan to replace Sir Iain Lobban in the autumn
Judge halts spread of zombie Nortel patents to Texas in Google trial
Epic Rockstar patent war to be waged in California
prev story

Whitepapers

Securing web applications made simple and scalable
In this whitepaper learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Top three mobile application threats
Learn about three of the top mobile application security threats facing businesses today and recommendations on how to mitigate the risk.
Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.