William Eichler 13 August 2018

Reading council considers ‘huge scale privatisation’

Reading Borough Council plans to undertake a programme of ‘huge scale privatisation’ that will affect thousands of council workers, union warns.

The council has launched a public consultation on ways to reduce costs by £42m over the next three years, against a net budget of £143m.

GMB has accused the council of considering options to outsource ‘huge numbers’ of public sector jobs without warning the unions who represent council workers.

‘This will affect not only thousands of council workers in Reading, but every single service user,’ said Nikki Dancey, GMB officer for Reading.

‘The recent collapse of Carillion and the very unstable financial position of many private contractors in the public sector should be evidence enough for the council that outsourcing is not only far worse for the staff involved but is now proven not even to be economically beneficial.’

In response, Reading council said that the Government has cut nearly £58m of its funding between 2010 and 2020.

‘Considering alternative ways of delivering services is just one way the council may be able make the savings needed in order to balance the budget and to help protect vital public services,’ a council spokesperson said.

‘Our in-house teams continue to work extremely hard to reduce operating costs whilst maintaining good quality services for residents,’ they continued.

‘The financial challenge however, means we need to be sure we are delivering the best possible quality of service for the best possible value for money, which is why we are now market testing some services.’

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