Magazine article Public Finance

Suffolk Deputy Leader Defends Wholesale Outsourcing Plans

Magazine article Public Finance

Suffolk Deputy Leader Defends Wholesale Outsourcing Plans

Article excerpt

Outsourcing almost all services at Suffolk County Council will not be 'a quick fix', but councillors were left with no other option, Public Finance has been told.

Jane Storey, deputy leader of the Conservative-run council, defended criticism that offloading services to the private and voluntary sector would not lead to the scale of savings the council had estimated.

The council expects to have to cut its annual £l.lbn budget by 30%, but doubts have been cast that the target can be met Last month, councillors voted to open up almost all service provision to other providers, particularly community groups, social enterprises and co-operatives.

Storey told PF that immediate savings would be achieved by cutting capital spending, internally restructuring the council and ensuring services were not oversupplied. Savings from outsourcing would kick in later.

'The new strategic direction is about doing things in a different way, less duplication, seeing if voluntary organisations will and can do it

'There are ways of providing services that are not the traditional way that will save us money and won't be a quick fix,' she said.

She added that the alternative was 'to put up council tax, which is quite untenable for us'.

Residents are being consulted over the plans. Storey said: 'If s up to communities to tell us what they want and need and it may be they offer up a solution themselves. Or charities may be more than happy to talk to us. We are not saying no to anything. We have to think of new and innovative ways of working and that will give us the flexibility in the future to meet the financial crisis we have been left with. …

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