William Eichler 28 March 2019

Think tank warns against banning outsourcing

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A think tank has called for a review of the regulations governing outsourcing, but stressed it opposed the idea of banning the controversial practice.

The Government currently spends £284bn annually buying services from the third and private sectors, which is a third of its budget.

This practice has, however, come under fire in the wake of high-profile scandals such as the Carillion collapse.

A new report from the think tank Reform has urged Whitehall not to ban the practice.

Instead, it recommends providing more training for civil servants who are tasked with dealing with private companies and charities.

In particular, it calls for extra funding to bolster training for local government and a new online training platform.

The think tank also believes that the Government should select contracts based on their wider social benefits, known as ‘social value’, such as boosting local employment.

It argues that the Government should review outsourcing rules to ensure social value is better considered in deciding contracts and improve transparency.

It also calls for ‘better data and guidance’ to allow service providers to quantify and compare the potential social value of different contracts.

Dr Joshua Pritchard, report co-author, said: ‘The way Government buys services can be improved but banning outsourcing would be throwing the baby out with the bath water.’

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