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Bury council considers mass outsourcing

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Bury council is considering a transformation programme that would involve transferring the delivery of most services to private or third sector organisations.

It has published a consultation document on it future that includes a number of commitments within the programme. These begin with the key point that it "will start with the assumption, that can be tested, that the council will not directly deliver services".

Other sections of the document cover the potential of the council to increase its role as a commissioning organisation. This raises the prospect of it following Suffolk county council in its intention, announced last year, of outsourcing the majority of its services.

The document justifies the proposals on the grounds that the sharp cut in funding from central government is combining with increased demand for statutory services and the requirements of the localism bill to demand that the council adopts a new approach to its business.

The document also mentions a review of business processes to remove duplication, the development of a new ICT strategy, the roll-out of web based self-services, more standardisation and collaboration in procurement, and an increased role for the voluntary sector.

A spokeswoman for the council said the consultation will run until 20 March and that, if accepted by the executive, a four-year work programme will begin in the next financial year.

Bob Bibby, leader of the council, said: "We are asking some difficult questions and some very significant changes will need to be made.

"The messages within the document are clear, standing still is not an option, nor is ignoring the significant financial challenges and new localism agenda, both of which require a different response from local councils. This strategy is Bury's way of meeting these needs."

This article was originally published at Guardian Government Computing.

Guardian Government Computing is a business division of Guardian Professional, and covers the latest news and analysis of public sector technology. For updates on public sector IT, join the Government Computing Network here.

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