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As Interserve goes bust, the government must avoid another Carillion style disaster.

Commenting on today’s (Friday) news that Interserve is going into administration, TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said:

“We can’t afford another Carillion style disaster. The government must urgently sit down with unions to protect jobs, and to stop firms in Interserve’s supply chains going to the wall.

“Interserve has thousands of public service contracts – these must be brought back in house.

“This case highlights again why we need much more scrutiny when public services are handed to the private sector and far more robust oversight of the private firms handed millions by the government. This means a proper watchdog and a national risk register.

“Right now confidence in private providers of public services is at an all-time low and there should be a complete moratorium on any further outsourcing.”

Research published by the TUC in January found that private firms receive around £3,500 per household of taxpayers’ money each year for the outsourcing of public services.

The TUC report A Domesday Book for public service contracts – better data, better value for money proposes a set of actions for government and public service bodies:

  1. Improve data collection on outsourced contracts – the Cabinet Office and Treasury have begun making improvements, but progress must be faster. The Cabinet Office should be given a greater role in collecting data from Whitehall, local authorities, police and crime commissioners, and the NHS.
  2. A ‘Domesday Book’ for all contracts – a new public body should be set up that operates at arm’s length from central government. It would have statutory powers to require both commissioners and contractors from across the public sector to supply it with data. And it should maintain a ‘Domesday Book’ of all contracts including their performance on the outsourcing of services.
  3. Major reforms to improve value for taxpayers from outsourcing – the National Audit Office should become audit supervisor for the whole public sector. And a new Office for Equity, Efficiency and Effectiveness should be established to maximise social and public value.
Editors note

- The TUC A Domesday Book for public service contracts – better data, better value for money can be found here: https://www.tuc.org.uk/research-analysis/reports/domesday-book-public-service-contracts-%E2%80%93-better-data-better-value-money

- Details on the TUC estimate of the amount per household going to private outsourcing firms are here: https://www.tuc.org.uk/news/private-outsourcing-firms-get-%C2%A33500-household-services-%E2%80%93-tuc-analysis