A future Labour government would ban the outsourcing of public service contracts that involve close contact with vulnerable groups, over concerns that people are being put “at risk” by private contractors such as Atos and Capita.
This would include services like assessments for sickness and disability benefits, NHS care, the treatment of people in detention centres and prisons, and failures over recruitment and substandard housing for Armed Forces personnel.
Under Labour’s plans, whenever a outsourced contract expires or is terminated, central or local government will be required to assess whether a service involves significant contact with “at risk” groups or threatens people’s rights.
If the answer to these questions is “yes”, then new statutory guidance would be used to bring the service back in house, lessening the grip of the private sector over our public services.
There may however be exemptions to the rule where:
- The contract does not fall under a statutory definition of ‘relevant contract’.
- The value of the contract is below a certain threshold.
- The contract is between local authorities (or between a local authority and another public authority).
- The public authority can demonstrate that it has ‘good reason’ to override statutory guidance.
Andrew Gwynne MP, Labour’s Shadow Communities and Local Government Secretary, said: “For too long the British public have paid the price for outsourcing.
“The Tories’ dogmatic commitment to markets at all costs has delivered sub-standard services at inflated prices. And when they fail, as they often do, it’s the taxpayer that picks up the bill.
“Labour is proposing a radical new settlement that gives people the power to end outsourcing and decide for themselves how best to deliver the services they need.
“For too long this county has been run by and in the interests of a small few who are all in it together.
“It’s time to shift the scales and bring democracy and accountability back to government, and put power in the hands of the many”.