Outsourcing by local government doubled in the last parliament, yet our polling shows the public don't support this trend and that we want a say over our services. We're calling on councils to sign up to Our Services Our Say - and tell us how they're working towards transparent, accountable public services that put people first.
- If you're a member of the public, ask your councillors to support Our Services Our Say.
- If you're a councillor, have a look at our local authority guide and model motion - and get in touch to sign up or find out more.
TRANSPARENCY - information about decisions made in our name
1) Public service contracts should be publicly available
2) We need access to the performance and financial data of providers
3) Freedom of Information should apply to private providers of public services
ACCOUNTABILITY - a real say over our public services
4) The public should be consulted about public services
5) We need to be consulted before any outsourcing of services or privatisation of assets
6) We need a right to recall bad providers
PEOPLE BEFORE PROFIT - public services that put people first
7) Public ownership should be the default - the public interest case must be made for any privatisation and outsourcing
8) If a decision is made to contract out, there should be always an in-house bid on the table (or a reason given why not)
9) Social value needs to be prioritised whenever public services are outsourced
The campaign is supported by
John McDonnell MP, Shadow Chancellor, Labour Party: "Outsourcing and privatisation have gone much too far without giving the people affected any kind of say. ‘We Own It’ is calling for highly popular, common sense measures that would increase transparency and accountability and put people ahead of profit. The Public Service Users Bill is a great idea that councils around the country should start putting into practice."
Caroline Lucas MP, Green Party: “For the last three decades we’ve seen the scandal of more and more areas of public life being outsourced – a project which the Tories have accelerated. There are effective alternatives. When services are owned by the people who rely on them, there is more accountability, more democracy, and the knowledge that profits aren’t ending up in the pockets of big business. This research clearly shows that people want to be consulted when local services are outsourced. Local authorities should respond by doing what they can to be more transparent and accountable to the people who they represent.”
Claire McCarthy, General Secretary, Co-operative Party: "The Co-operative Party has long supported the need for a Public Service Users Bill as we believe that it is a critical step in improving accountability and defending the delivery of local services. The Party supports the ‘Our Services Our Say’ campaign as we believe that the principles which underpin it would give people more say and power over public services."
Dan Gregory, Head of Policy at Social Enterprise UK: “People are right to be worried about a lack of transparency and accountability in many areas of our economy and lots of us believe that putting people before profit should be a defining characteristic of public services. So it’s great to see We Own It promote these values through Our Services Our Say which thousands of social enterprises across the country can also get behind."
Stewart Wallis, Executive Director, NEF: "Our work on local services has always advocated that commissioners focus on the outcomes that matter to local people when commissioning services. Transparency and accountability need to be at the heart of our public services."
Ed Mayo, Secretary General of Co-operatives UK: “It is more critical than ever that public ownership should give the public a sense of ownership. Change is here for all local authorities, so take us with you.”
Kathy Evans, Chief Executive, Children England: "Children England supports the principles of transparency, accountability and people before profit in the provision of public services, as embraced in the Public Service Users Bill. For children and families, it’s essential that any organisation providing a public service is able to put the needs and welfare of people at its heart, as the statutory and voluntary sectors are intrinsically motivated and duty-bound to do. Along with many other organisations, we recognise the interdependence of the two sectors and champion open, collaborative working rather than price-driven competition in public service delivery."
Debbie Jolly, Disabled People against Cuts (DPAC): "DPAC fully support the crucial work being done by 'We Own It'. Outsourcing and privatisation have left our services in tatters with severe impacts on disabled people and everyone else - its right that we, the owners of public services should be calling all to account and taking action to say no to the lack of transparency and no to the huge loss of public funds accompanying poor services."
James Angel, Fuel Poverty Action: "From spiralling costs to declining quality services, all the evidence shows that privatisation has failed us. But the Conservative government are intent on ramping up the sell-off of the public services we all rely upon. It's time for local authorities to take a stand. By committing to Our Services Our say, local authorities can show their commitment to the well-being of their constituents over the profits of big business."
Jonathan Gray, Director of Policy and Research, Open Knowledge: "In the wake of a long series of scandals and crises about the reckless profiteering and abysmal incompetence of some of the UK's biggest contracting companies it is time for public institutions to take real action. Despite the UK government's commitment to being the most open and transparent government in the world, huge sums of public money are vanishing into the black boxes of corporate coffers. It is vital for citizens and civil society groups to have access to information about outsourced services as well as recourse to strong accountability mechanisms when things go wrong."
Frances O'Grady, General Secretary, TUC: "Privatisation and outsourcing are bad news for the people who use public services, and it's time for all of us to have a say over contracts and decisions agreed in our name. I wholeheartedly support the Our Services Our Say campaign and hope that councils around the country will sign up to these principles."
Dave Prentis, General Secretary, UNISON: “We are living in unprecedented times of enormous public service funding and job cuts. More worryingly, the government is trying to hoodwink the public that privatisation or mutualisation of public services can somehow give us better quality services on the cheap. UNISON holds firm that all public services by default must stay public unless there is an evidenced ‘public interest case’ to prove otherwise. UNISON welcomes Our Services Our Say as a vital public service campaign and voice to simply put the case forward about the fundamental importance of public services to society and communities. We hope that every public service authority will sign up to its principles along with trade unions, civic groups and communities.”
Gail Cartmail, Assistant General Secretary, Unite: “The principles of the Public Service Users Bill chime with Unite as they address the critical issues of transparency and accountability. Councils are beginning to appreciate that in-house options for delivering good quality services efficiently can ‘trump’ bids whose only appeal is the lowest price.”
Simon Sapper, Assistant Secretary, CWU: “Our Services Our Say is about putting service users – that’s us - at the heart of the debate. For too long, outsourcing has been synonymous with short-term quick-fix fast-buck cost avoidance rather than sound planning, efficient delivery and wellbeing of society.”
Sue Ferns, Director of Communications and Research, Prospect Union: "Prospect is pleased to support We Own It's 'Our Services Our Say' campaign. The Chancellor's Spending Review should prioritise the three campaign principles of transparency, accountability and people before profit. Public services make a vital, but often unsung, contribution to everyone's quality of life and must be treated with the value and respect they deserve. We, in Prospect, will be making our contribution through our campaign 'Your world, our work'. Please support both campaigns."
David Hall, former Director, Public Services International Research Unit: "The UK government continues to impose, encourage or perpetuate outsourcing and privatisation, despite a great body of evidence that it delivers no benefits, and despite the evidence of widespread public opposition. In other countries, many such proposals have been rejected after being submitted to public votes. The UK desperately needs some democratic controls over the surge of privatisation by outsourcing, and this bill would go a long way to delivering them."
Professor Andrew Cumbers, Adam Smith Business School, Glasgow University: “Thirty years' experience of private solutions to public services shows that not only do they lead to poorer and less efficient outcomes but they put private profit above social need. I therefore fully endorse the principles of We Own It’s Public Service Users Bill which would return vital services to public ownership and control.”
Dr Ian Taylor, Director, Transport for Quality of Life: “The Our Services Our Say campaign goes to the root of a crucial issue. The UK, unlike other countries in Europe, has laws that mean public transport services that provide essential services to millions of people must be outsourced to private companies. As a consequence our public transport services now lose large amounts of money as profit leakage, the shareholders who receive those profit dividends cannot be held to account, and a veil of commercial confidentiality prevents the public and politicians assessing whether their public transport services are being run for profit rather than for public benefit.”
Colin Haslam, Professor in Accounting and Finance, Queen Mary University: “Outsourcing of public services creates new problems and risks. Public sector expertise and capacity to deliver essential services are being hollowed out. Foundational services, upon which we all depend, are transferred to conglomerates and specialists prone to financial instability and collapse. Public sector reporting entities, in the meantime, are not able to transfer asset risk associated with their outsourced contracts – leaving them exposed to impairments that could undermine their financials.”
John Tizard, independent consultant, advisor and commentator: “Whenever they are considering alternative service delivery models especially outsourcing local authorities should always be transparent, involve service users, the wider community and staff in decision making, publish the business case and require service providers to be transparent and accountable. Outsourcing especially to the business sector should never be the default option and a holistic assessment of the impact on accountability, services quality, employees and the local economy should be taken into account. The messages in the “Our Services Our Say” campaign should be considered by every council leader and chief executive.”
Fri 04 Mar 2016.
Fri 04 Mar 2016. Source: www.theguardian.comAnti-privatisation groups demand greater transparency
Fri 04 Mar 2016. Source: www.localgov.co.uk
Thu 19 Nov 2015. Source: www.morningstaronline.co.ukPublic call for more consultation over outsourcing plans
Thu 19 Nov 2015. Source: www.localgov.co.uk