Decades of forced outsourcing of local services have hollowed out councils and left communities with little control over key public services says Stephen Morgan MP
Backing a commitment to reverse the trend of public services being outsourced to private providers and bring these services back ‘in house’, to be delivered by the public sector city MP Stephen Morgan has backed announcements by Labour to revolutionise local public services.
Criticising the “scandal” of “rip off” outsourcing of key public services the Shadow Chancellor and Shadow Communities Secretary are committing Labour to ‘insourcing’ the delivery of key public services to improve services, save taxpayers’ money and increase democratic accountability of public services.
Labour’s plans will roll back decades of orthodoxy that have seen local councils forced into outsourcing the delivery of key public services to private companies, including construction and maintenance work, bin collections, cleaning, school dinners, playing field maintenance and the management of local leisure centres.
Announcing the plans, Labour have also criticised the legacy of decades of outsourcing in local government, with private companies failing to uphold their contracts to deliver services, standards deteriorating and the taxpayer picking up the bill.
Under the new plans, Labour will:
- Legislate to ensure that local authorities review all service contracts when they expire;
- Legislate to create a presumption that service contracts will be brought back inhouse and delivered by the public sector unless certain conditions and exemptions are met;
- Empower citizens and community groups by giving them the right to request information from councils showing that any outsourcing decision is consistent with these criteria;
- Transform the legislative framework around outsourcing contacts by making them subject to the Human Rights Act and the Freedom of Information Act and introducing a new set of minimum standards in contracts where outsourcing has to continue, including a fair wage clause, trade union recognition, support local labour and supply chains, annual gender pay audits and time-limited contracts;
- Support local government in delivering these changes by providing a model contract (to save councils time and resources), access to the Government Legal Department for contract management and greater support for collaboration amongst councillors.
Democratising Local Public Services: A Plan for Twenty-First Century Insourcing – Labour’s blueprint for a radical overhaul of local government – was announced at an event in London held by Labour’s Community Wealth Building Unit, a network of councillors and experts working together to rebuild local economies, renew faith in local services and deliver a renaissance of local government in communities across Britain in the face of austerity.
Newly appointed Shadow Communities Minister, Stephen Morgan MP said:
“Decades of forced outsourcing of local services have hollowed out councils and left communities with little control over key public services.
The current law is stacked against councils taking back control and heavily tilted in favour of outsourcing.
Yet across our country Labour councils are leading the way in taking back control of local services, and showing that inhouse delivery improves service delivery while saving money.
That’s why I back my party’s pledge to see an end to the privatisation circus and put the power with the people proven to be most effective: local communities”.
Labour’s Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell MP said:
“After year upon year of failures the public has rightly lost confidence in the privatisation of our public services and the carve up of the public realm for private profit.
The government’s ideological pursuit of privatisation and outsourcing has seen the public pay the price as fat cat bosses count their profits.
It’s time to end the outsourcing scandal which has seen private companies rip off the taxpayer, degrade our public services and put people at risk whilst remaining wholly unaccountable to the people who rely on and fund these services.”
Labour’s Shadow Communities and Local Government Secretary Andrew Gwynne MP said:
“Labour will end this racket and ensure that our vital public services are delivered in the interests of the people our local authorities are here to serve, not in the interest of outsourcing firms’ profit margins and wealthy shareholders.
People are more important than profit, and our public services belong to local people.
Labour will set out in law that inhouse delivery of public services delivered by the public sector will be the default option for councils.
In government, Labour will boost local economies by spending taxpayers’ money on local suppliers and local workers, and we will support councils as they deliver radical change and give power back to our communities.
Our plan is a plan for public services run for the many, not the private interests of the few.”