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APSE has urged local authorities to return to in-house services, reports Herpreet Kaur Grewal. 

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01 July 2019 Herpreet Kaur Grewal

Insourced services are “essential” to future funding for council services, according to a report published recently by the Association for Public Service Excellence (APSE).

The body, which informs and advises more than 250 local authorities across the UK on a broad range of frontline public services, argues that local councils “cannot make money from resources over which they have no control”.

Insourcing, it believes, provides a means for councils to organise activities to support income generation and commercial activities. 

Its report says the scale and volume of insourcing in UK local government is supporting the idea that, rather than simply re-letting or extending contracts, insourcing as “an alternative model of delivery is not only viable but increasingly viewed as an innovative solution”. 

Bringing a service back in-house is not a simplistic correction to a contract that is not working but “a process of innovation in its own right”. Insourcing allows the public provider to exercise “more effective resource allocation and maximise its limited resources”, adds the study. 

It allows local councils to do “the right things in the right way” and it is a means “to ameliorate the impact of austerity based on both the primary qualitative data and secondary data analysis [used in the report]”.

It also establishes the ability for councils to be the “connecting force between local services and communities and businesses” and it joins up the endeavours of public services with sustainable local outcomes, say the authors. 

The report recommends that insourcing should be viewed as a form of innovation in both service delivery and resource allocation. It adds that decisions to insource “should not be driven by form but by what the local council wishes to achieve”. In most cases there will be a wide range of powers to simply get on and deliver a service under a simple direct employment model.   

Emma Potter