Council accused of ‘huge scale’ privatisation for outsourcing plans

14 Aug 18

Union GMB has criticised Reading Borough Council for plans to outsource a number of services to save £42m over the next three years. 

The council has agreed to “market test” several services, which are currently provided in-house - a move which the GMB union called “huge scale privatisation”.

Reading said that according to a medium term financial plan it agreed in February 2018, the council must now achieve a £42m cost reduction from a net budget for services of £143m over the next three years.

To do so, the council has said it will “market test services against other providers”.

The services affected include the collection of council tax and business rates, waste collection and streetcare, facilities management, parks and grounds maintenance and highways and civil engineering.

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

“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 not even proven to be economically beneficial.”

A council spokesperson said the consultation, which ends 31 August, will involve a number of formal exercises, which will be carried out in accordance with rules set out in public procurement law.

The authority said: “The financial challenge means we need to be sure we are delivering the best possible quality of services for the best possible value for money, which is why we are now market testing some services.”

GMB branch secretary David McMullen said: “The GMB is working with other unions and the Reading Trades Council to make their position clear to RBC, and will be meeting with the head of the council soon for further discussion.”

In July, Barnet Council said it would review its outsourcing contracts over concerns they did not offer value for money.

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