Outsourcing everyting 2.0!! Suffolk Inc.

September 23, 2010 at 2:39 pm 1 comment

By Peter Baeck

As my colleague John Craig has previously blogged about new ways of designing public services inspired by private sector brands such as Easy Jet or John Lewis are emerging across the UK.

two rival private sector brands are now doing battle in debate about public sector reform. On the one hand, both the Tories and Labour have suggested a shift to a John Lewis approach, in which local services are owned and run by those who deliver and receive them. On the other, Conservative-led Barnet Council has suggested that their approach to reform is akin to Easyjet’s, providing a bare minimum of services are for free and others at a fee 

It now looks af if we have to add another model to the list, Suffolk Inc. As described in todays Guardian Suffolk council is considering a new strategy that allows for the council to outsource most of its services.

The Tory-controlled county’s “new strategic direction”, set for approval tomorrow, could see virtually every service outsourced to social enterprises or companies. The aim is to turn the authority from one which provides public services itself, to an “enabling” council, which only commissions them.

 I have previously blogged about Maywood, a small town in California who has succesfully managed to outsource all public services to either private providers or departments from neighbouring towns and cities. Suffolk  Inc. sounds to me as the first UK example of this approach and is to me an interesting example of completely rethinking the way we design and run our public services. What will be crucial for Suffolk and other councils considering going down the ‘inc’ route, will be how they commission services. Social Enterprises is mentioned as an oppportunity along side private providers. From my perspective there is a real innovation potential in the Inc model if it goes beyond commissioning to the usual suspects, as well as integrate the users of commissioned services in the commissioning proces, to realize their potential and ensure that their needs and aspirations are met.


Entry filed under: Uncategorized.

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1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. JonSHarvey  |  September 24, 2010 at 9:52 am

    I once asked Sir Digby Jones whether he would advocate outsourcing everything including the armed forces? He said that for him the limit was that if people were putting their lives on the line, you could not outsource them on that basis.

    So what intrigues me about Suffolk is if they outsource Child Protection – whilst it isn’t the providers whose lives are on the line, but it could well be their clients…. And if there is the Suffolk equivalent of Baby P a couple of years from now – who will get the blame – the commissioners or the providers?

    I would be interested to know what parameters and limits people put around what should / can be outsourced and what cannot?


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