Effective risk allocation, penalties for non-performance and escape clauses in contracts should be introduced to improve strategic partnerships, according to a new report.
The first study of strategic service delivery partnerships, carried out by the New Local Government Network, suggests competition drives progress, but there are concerns over whether the partnerships will deliver promises.
There is concern delivery will change over the next decade and no-one can predict what services will be required.
The market for strategic partnerships needs management at either regional or national level because there is a danger of monopolisation by a few inexperienced providers.
The report says councils must ensure:
-Good dialogue with suppliers
-Robust procurement processes
-Evidence of good commercial and service outcomes
Local government minister Nick Raynsford said: 'Most local authorities are happy to review what they do and see if it can be done better.'
The report shows there are no large-scale strategic partnerships at smaller councils.
The report adds: 'Local government needs to move away from the arm's-length style relationship and be prepared to engage the private sector as a real strategic and intellectual partner.'
The NLGN report was carried out by a mixed public and private steering group.
retirements to cost£4.5m
A wave of staff taking early retirement in the wake of Birmingham City Council selling off its housing repairs firm will cost£4.5m.
More than 300 staff, 234 of whom worked for the loss-making repairs organisation, decided to retire after the company transferred to private hands in May having run up debts of£14m.
The council has insisted it will not have to increase the contributions to its pension scheme as a result.
A council spokeswoman said the provision was well within the level estimated by the actuary.
£311m boost for new pfi projects
Seven local private finance initiative projects, including two light
rail schemes, are to receive£311m under
the latest PFI.
Local government minister Nick Raynsford announced the projects, which will be focused in Amber Valley BC, Breckland DC, Lewisham LBC, and Penwith DC.
Private sponsors fund academies
The government has announced three new city academies with private sector sponsors.
Schools standards minister Stephen Timms said: 'We want to continue the transformation in standards taking place in primary schools, using the momentum to build on the good work already being done in the secondary sector.'
Barnet LBC's city academy will specialise in business, enterprise and information technology, and will be sponsored by Peter Shalson.
Manchester's academy will be sponsored by the Manchester Science Park and specialise in science.
Middlesbrough Council has launched a consultation on the establishment of an academy specialising in business and finance, to be sponsored by the Vardy Foundation.
Each academy will get a£10m government grant.