public services

Economic think tank calls for restoration of public values

CLES, the UK’s independent progressive economics think and do tank, has today launched a paper calling for the restoration of public values in public services.

Restoring Public Values in Public Services outlines how a ‘private is best’ approach has led to a situation in which public services are too often outsourced to low quality, high cost providers who, in a race to the bottom, have compromised the dignity and safety of people who rely on these services.

Social Value is not enough – It’s time to restore Public Values

Last week the government launched a series of new initiatives around ‘Social Value’, a much vaunted policy agenda which started with the passage of the Social Value Act in 2012. Cabinet Office Minister David Lidington has announced that by summer 2019, government procurements will be required to take social and economic benefits into account in certain priority areas, as well as new transparency rules for those bidding for public contracts.

The government’s attempt to get businesses to consider their social impact can be understood as an acknowledgement that something has gone awry in the state of commissioning public services. The dramatic collapse of outsourcing giant Carillion in January 2018 has prompted a new wave of governmental thinking about how goods and services are purchased. With public opinion increasingly moving against poor provision of public services (most noticeably the much criticised railway system), this extension of the Social Value Act represents the government’s response.

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