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UK: Call for Public, Private and Charity Sectors to Start Working Together
Source: heraldscotland.com
Source Date: Monday, November 22, 2010
Country: Europe
Created: Nov 22, 2010

As the public sector shrinks, government will have to help the private and not-for-profit sectors play a bigger role in delivering services.

That theme has been encouraged by the Coalition Government, and last week it began to emerge in reaction to the Scottish Budget.

At the annual forum of Scottish Business in the Community, Labour’s finance spokesman David Whitton MSP admitted the future of public services would be about “team Scotland” (arguably evoking David Cameron’s “Big Society”), and avowed: “I believe the answer lies in the public, private and third sectors working together.”

Aberdeen City Council’s chief executive Sue Bruce said the “third sector” should change its name, as it implied “some sort of hierarchy which I don’t think exists”.

Ms Bruce said there was already “a rich seam of collaboration going on between businesses, community groups and social enterprises in Scotland”. She cited two recent anonymous donations from Aberdeen philanthropists, one of £1m to a charity and the other of £5m to a “city development prospect”. 

"The private and public sectors need to work together to maintain the present level of high-quality jobs" Neil Maclean, Capgemini

She said pub entrepreneur Gareth Wood was supporting a secondary-school research project into local charities, and that the Prince’s Trust programmes for 16 to 25-year-olds showed what could be done outside the private sector. She added that the Retail Rocks initiative had just offered seven derelict shops in Torrey to the local community, which could be an exciting catalyst for regeneration.

“We are hugely optimistic it will be a success, and these are the kind of examples we need to promote,” Ms Bruce said.

Antonia Swinson, chief executive of the Scottish Social Enterprise Coalition, said a key way forward was community ownership of assets such as renewable energy facilities, to generate an income stream.

John Telling, of support services group Mitie, commented: “There are going to be a lot of different models about how we create service delivery across the private and public sectors.

“There will be shared ownership and a blurring of what it means to be a business.”

He said the Government should be doing more to facilitate competition for public contracts by small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and social enterprises.

Meanwhile, Scotland’s biggest IT outsourcing company, Capgemini Consulting, is promising a major expansion in Scotland.

Neil Maclean, Capgemini’s head of local and devolved government consulting, told The Herald: “We are working on what we hope will be a multimillion-pound investment in 2011. This will form an integral part of our growth plans in Scotland over the next three years as we seek to double our employee numbers here to at least 1400.”

Mr Maclean admitted that progress had been slower in Scotland than south of the Border. “What we are finding with the Scottish Government is that they want to do things themselves, but where we can demonstrate there are true savings to be made you can have that conversation.”

Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon had cited an £800m potential saving from one unnamed outsourcing initiative, he added. “That is one we are involved in.” He also said Capgemini had helped one Scottish local authority “completely change the way they operate as an organisation” and drive out £10m of costs.

Mr Maclean added: “If the pressure is going to be so big, there has to be a new way of thinking … the private and public sectors need to work together to maintain the present level of high-quality jobs.”

On the high-profile consultancy spends and IT project disasters in various realms of public life, he commented: “Most people concentrate on the bad experiences, but the reality is if we do it right and do it in partnership you generally can save substantial amounts.”

A research report for Capgemini published last week found two-thirds of senior public servants predicted a bigger role for consultants in government, but that they expected a new reward framework “based on the successful commercial outcome of the entire venture”.

Mr Maclean said consultants would have to be “willing to be long-term partners, roll their sleeves up, and take responsibility for working with organisations to deliver changes”.

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