Partners in service

Private and public sector partnerships are the way to provide localentral government. government services, according to local government minister Hilary Armstrong.

Last week the Lord Chancellor’s department contracted out its accounting services in a #130m PFI deal, to Deloitte & Touche subsidiary CSL.

Armstrong then announced 23 local authority PFI projects, including nine school projects, two waste management schemes, two libraries and a couple of police projects. All these schemes will get revenue support from central government.

She followed this announcement by issuing an open invitation to the private sector to come up with new ideas for partnerships with local authorities, to provide ‘best value’ in local services.

‘Delivering the best local services at a price which the local taxpayer can afford means making the most of the skills and experience in the public sector, the private sector and the voluntary sector,’ said Armstrong.

She added: ‘Can local authorities and the firms concerned make better use of certain facilities? Could works canteens provide meals-on-wheels services? Could banks provide technology, expertise and investment in council tax collection or housing benefit payments? Could private sports grounds provide more sports facilities for schools?’

Armstrong said she would like to see proposals which would involve private sector firms working with more than one local authority.

David Bowles, CSL director, thought there would be opportunities for the Big Six to capitalise on Armstrong’s enthusiasm for PFI. ‘This is a huge area of opportunity,’ he said.

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