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CBI chief advocates more ‘private’ in public services

25/09/15

John Cridland to tell conference that business can provide investment in technology but needs greater role in transformation

Businesses could be a source of investment in technology for the transformation of public services, but need to be given a greater role in their delivery, the director general of the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) is to say in a speech today.

John_CridlandJohn Cridland (pictured) is due to state the position at the CBI Public Services Network event in London. He will suggest a more active role for the private sector, saying the most important factor is the quality of a service rather than whether it is provided by a public authority or a commercial enterprise.

“If some councils continue to put ‘who’ provides a service above ‘what’ service is delivered, it will ultimately mean less choice and less value for money,” the text of his speech reads.

This will be accompanied by a claim that some local authorities are not making full use of market solutions, and adding to the pressures created by the squeeze on budgets.

It points to business becoming even more active in services, with the promise of it providing more of the large scale investment needed. This would require a change in the way government works with the private sector, with an emphasis on what Cridland describes as “dialogue by default”, in which there are more discussions after contracts have been awarded.

Five year savings

In anticipation of the Comprehensive Spending Review, to be published in November, the CBI has said the government could save £16.3 billion over the next five years through a series of measures that include digitising more transactional services.

It has also estimated that if all departments use the government’s shared service centres for back office processes it would provide savings of £640 million per year.

Cridland will say that digital could be a “win-win” for local authorities and their residents, along with local businesses. As an example, the London Borough of Hammersmith & Fulham has saved more than £1m per year by developing a customer service portal to which 70% of the borough’s households have signed up.

Cridland will add that, while organisations in local government, Whitehall and the NHS will have to find their own solutions, common approaches such as the use of new technology, joined up services and a long term perspective will be crucial.

 

 

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