The high-profile collapse of Carillion, and the widespread suspicion that the private sector is not paying its fair share to the public purse, has caused a seismic shift in opinion among local politicians and public alike.
There has been a significant drop in contracts being awarded externally in recent months, proving that many councils have fallen out of love with the big players in the outsourcing world.
This seems particularly true in waste services. At a district level this is a vitally important service which residents expect their council to get right first time at a fair price – and every time after that.
At the same time, the need to deliver services consistently and ever more efficiently isn’t going away. It’s more important than ever in these tough times.
But despite the suspicion, councils are free to follow a different approach which offers the best of both worlds, via a local authority trading company model, in which Norse is the market leader.
With concern about the performance and ethos of the big private sector outsourcers, we are seeing a rise in the number of councils actively interested in following this ‘insourcing’ approach.
Existing services and staff transfer into the company, and services are improved, costs reduced, and profits shared. Partnering in this way not only saves money by delivering greater efficiencies, it provides a welcome dividend for councils.
The system works. At Daventry, by working in a true spirit of partnership with Daventry DC, Norse has delivered dramatically increased recycling rates.
Under the 123+ service, residents receive a weekly food waste collection, a fortnightly mixed recycling collection in a blue-lidded wheelie bin, and a general waste black bin collection every three weeks.
Latest recycling figures show a 63% increase in food waste collection and a 14% rise in recycling levels for cans, glass, paper and other dry recyclables, as well as a 27% reduction in the amount of rubbish being put in waste bins.
The public-public partnership approach which lies at the heart of local authority trading companies does away with the traditional, prescriptive supplier/client relationship by adopting mutually-agreed and shared values, objectives and outcomes.
Clearly, no single approach will work for all, but more and more councils are looking for a different way of doing business and adopting an ethical commercialisation partnership approach which combines the best of the public and private sectors.
Geoff Tucker, commercial director, Norse Group
Column sponsored and supplied by Norse Group