Political swing points to partnership working

19 Jun 23

Norse chief executive Justin Galliford considers the impact of the local election results, and how they will encourage service delivery through partnerships.

Justin Galliford

With the political map changing to reflect views that favour insourcing services, many local authorities will now be reassessing their current outsourcing arrangements, with a view to taking services back inhouse.

The swing away from the Conservatives, who by and large lean towards outsourcing as a means to reduce costs, introduce competition, and promote efficiency in the public sector, means that different political parties are in power; and these parties broadly favour insourcing as the way to maintain control, improve service quality, and deliver social value. 

Where external service providers are retained, we could well see greater emphasis on companies with a strong commitment to creating social benefits and contributing to the local community.

However, implementing such changes in service delivery models, replacing outsourcing with insourcing, will require careful planning: councils will need to build capacity, invest in resources, vehicles and equipment, and develop staffing levels and inhouse expertise.

I believe that partnership working offers the best of both worlds: our twenty-plus local authority joint ventures have always been closer to insourcing than outsourcing, and delivered a wide range of benefits to local authorities: greater operational efficiency and cost savings, together with the ability to develop revenue streams, while sharing objectives and a public service ethos. 

Crucially, the model also means our local authority partners retain a high degree of control through shared ownership and the governance structure. This gives them direct influence over the partnership’s strategy but does not inhibit the flexibility and commercial creativity that Norse, with its trading experience and knowhow, contributes.

Partnership also overcomes another problem that many councils will have to address: the long-running skills shortage that means that many local authorities will no longer have enough people to manage the demands that taking services back inhouse will make.

With a wide range of disciplines, from traditional ‘blue collar’ operations through to professional property services, Norse’s partnership model complements and augments local councils’ own capabilities and I believe that this makes it the ideal vehicle for those planning on moving away from outsourcing. 

  • Justin Galliford

    Chief executive of Norse Group. Wholly owned by Norfolk County Council, Norse’s turnover is over £350m. The company operates local authority partnerships across the UK, providing a wide range of services including waste and environmental, highways, FM, property consultancy and care homes.

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