This blog has been created to throw a spotlight on Suffolk County Council’s drive to outsource itself. I have created it because I believe that this dramatic change is being introduced at great speed, without sufficient scrutiny and without the consent of the people of Suffolk.
The blog represents my opinions (or prejudices) which are these.
- This is not a robust plan. Its huge implications have not been adequately considered not has any rigorous attempt to define how this will actually save costs been carried out.
- In particular it is not clear who will be expected to deliver all the services that the Council is looking to shed. The Council is keen to suggest that existing not-for-profit community organisations will assume this responsibility. However, it is obvious that the task is way beyond the capacity of these groups as it currently stands. There is no plan that sets out how all these community organisations will either be created or expanded in the very short time available other than a vague notion of “creating a market” within which this will somehow emerge.
- This creates the suspicion that, in reality, the involvement of community groups will be minor and that the vast majority of the functions will be outsourced to a small number private sector contractors.
My fear, therefore, is that the net effect of what is being proposed will be this.
- An enormous transference of public money into the pockets of a small group of private sector contractors, accountable to their shareholders not the people whose money they are receiving.
- A reduction in the ability of elected councillors or public officials to have effective control over the services the people of Suffolk pay them to deliver.
- The disappearance of many services altogether, especially those which are deemed non commercially viable (i.e. exactly the services that a public body, rather than a private business, should be delivering)
- Ultimately very little actual cost or efficiency saving.
I hope that this blog will be joined by many others and that we can start to create a digital community within which the changes proposed can be subject to proper scrutiny. As part of this I have created a Big Society Suffolk Facebook page (http://www.facebook.com/pages/BigSocietySuffolk/133991093316937) within which people can leave comments and create discussions. If you basically agree with my opinions, I would suggest that you become a fan of this page (click the ‘Like’ option). The more fans (on this or any other Pages), the more likely it is that Suffolk County Council will have to take notice and start to answer the questions that need to be answered.