Environment minister Sir Paul Beresford said last week that a consultation paper on the framework of white-collar competition would be produced soon after the local elections.
It is expected to recommend an increase in the percentage of services which will have to be exposed to competition and raising the limit under which authorities can claim exemption from CCT (LGC, 4 April).
The announcement has been delayed by the local elections but senior council officers are warning against complacency.
Under CCT regulations, councils have to satisfy their auditors annually that they have fulfilled their competition requirement. The DoE could use this to ensure councils that have tendered services under existing rules must expose more work. This would force them to offer smaller pieces of work for competition, which would be easier for the private sector to win.
'Councils will be thrown into chaos,' said Lesley Courcouf, assistant secretary for public services at the Association of Metropolitan Authorities. The hardest hit would be councils which had done no preparation on the assumption they were exempt from competition.
Ms Courcouf said councils would have to be given at least a year to 'sort themselves out'.
There is concern that the extra work required to expose services to competition would not be worthwhile because the private sector does not have the necessary capacity.