‘The public and private sectors successfully working together’
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.
INNOVATION: A plastic bottle being recycled.