‘The pub­lic and pri­vate sec­tors suc­cess­fully work­ing to­gether’

Yorkshire Post - Business - - FRONT PAGE - Beckie Hart

Agame changer for pub­lic ser­vices? It will come as no sur­prise to hear that bin col­lec­tion has im­proved over time. There are now state-of-the-art waste man­age­ment fa­cil­i­ties han­dling higher lev­els of re­cy­cling, which is bet­ter both for the en­vi­ron­ment and tax­pay­ers. Why does this mat­ter?

Be­cause this is just one ex­am­ple of the pub­lic and pri­vate sec­tors suc­cess­fully work­ing to­gether to im­prove peo­ple’s lives while sav­ing money.

There are plenty of oth­ers. Whether ed­u­cat­ing our young, treat­ing the sick or re­spond­ing to crime, ef­fec­tive and ef­fi­cient pub­lic ser­vices and in­fra­struc­ture are crit­i­cal to the func­tion­ing of our day-to-day lives.

Part­ner­ships be­tween the pub­lic and pri­vate sec­tors in pub­lic con­tracts de­liver jobs, sup­port in­no­va­tion and pro­vide the UK with a com­pet­i­tive ad­van­tage as a coun­try. Got right, these cru­cial col­lab­o­ra­tions play a vi­tal role in spread­ing pros­per­ity right across all UK re­gions and na­tions.

Yet it’s clear these part­ner­ships must evolve if they are to be fit for the chal­lenges of the fu­ture. A new sur­vey by the CBI and law firm Browne Ja­cob­son sug­gest three ways for im­prov­ing pub­lic ser­vice de­liv­ery by re­form­ing how con­tracts are ten­dered.

Wher­ever pos­si­ble public­sec­tor bod­ies – from lo­cal coun­cils to the NHS – should work with sup­pli­ers to move away from fo­cussing on short-term costs to long-term value. This would al­low com­pa­nies to in­vest more in in­no­va­tion that can re­ally make a dif­fer­ence, for ex­am­ple us­ing AI to bet­ter un­der­stand peo­ple’s chang­ing health­care needs, sav­ing lives and ul­ti­mately tax­pay­ers’ money.

There also needs to be a more di­verse and com­pet­i­tive mar­ket­place for pub­lic con­tracts, with com­pa­nies of all sizes able to ben­e­fit from these op­por­tu­ni­ties. A first step is driv­ing bet­ter com­mer­cial be­hav­iours across the wider pub­lic sec­tor by learn­ing from what’s work­ing well else­where and ap­ply best prac­tice, for ex­am­ple by us­ing stan­dard­ised con­tracts.

Mak­ing bid­ding for con­tracts more straight­for­ward is es­sen­tial to re­mov­ing bar­ri­ers for SMEs in par­tic­u­lar. Lat­est fig­ures for 2015/16 show that SMEs ben­e­fit­ted from £5.6 bil­lion in cen­tral gov­ern­ment direct spend­ing. While this is an im­prove­ment of around 20 per cent com­pared with 2011/12, the re­port finds that ma­jor up­front costs con­tinue to re­duce com­pe­ti­tion and make bid­ding for con­tracts unattrac­tive for SMEs.

Tak­ing this ap­proach will drive so­cial and eco­nomic pros­per­ity, and help avoid an­other Car­il­lion by learn­ing lessons about the dan­gers of short­ter­mism. It’s im­por­tant in­dus­try and gov­ern­ment put their part­ner­ships on a more sus­tain­able foot­ing to pro­tect pub­lic ser­vice de­liv­ery and peo­ple’s jobs long into the fu­ture.

PIC­TURE: GETTY IM­AGES.

IN­NO­VA­TION: A plas­tic bot­tle be­ing re­cy­cled.

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