Can commercial individuals change the quality of our public services?

Can commercial individuals change the quality of our public services?
Can commercial individuals change the quality of our public services?

With increasing demands to reduce the cost of local services, government are continuously looking to the private sector for the commercial nous and expertise that will reduce spend. Great if we can cut costs – but how does this impact our social services?  Can the commercial sector really drive lasting change in the way public money is spent and sustain or improve the levels of care that users receive?

Well, it’s no secret that our social services are in crisis.

As a consultant in the executive interim market, I am always engaging this topic with Chief Execs and members of our local authority’s leadership teams and there is simply no clear cut answer. It is, however, broadly suggested that the expertise we need isn’t something that we need to bring in from private sector individuals, but is instead a behaviour and mindset that our local authorities can adopt themselves.

With nearly half the people who need social support not receiving any at all, how can we possibly reduce social care budgets by nearly £5 billion and expect to see an improvement? Do we not need the commercial sense from the likes of financial services to ‘sort out’ our overspend and help us generate income?

I firmly believe that we need those who have lived and breathed our social service system to make the key decisions that impact change in our communities. The majority of local authorities are, in fact, already successfully procuring and commissioning services out to the private sector. Some are generating income and leveraging their current assets to bring capital into the authority – a substantial shift in this entrepreneurial mindset has already been adopted, so is not a model unfamiliar in the leadership of our public service.

With five-year strategic plans well under way and transformations being implemented across the country, perhaps conclusions have already been drawn on what public services will look like by 2020. This poses the question, however, “is that picture clear”?  

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Local Government , Public Sector
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