Charities that had tried to work with the private sector had often been “set up to fail”, particularly those involved in the work programme, which aims to help the long-term unemployed find jobs. We hope that the MoJ reforms will lead to a bigger role for charities but the signs from the tender process are ominous. 300 page applications with 2 financial models and capital backing are required. Now, clearly this are large sums of public money but we also need a process that doesn't push us to the margins of delivery. When our sector has the real experience of delivering reduced reoffending it will be silly if we end up not involved in these programmes. And the private sector oligopolies have not exactly covered themselves with glory with their delivery of public services so far.
Several private sector “prime” contractors have been “guilty of poor treatment of civil society subcontractors, including failing to refer sufficient clients and refusing to lessen the degree of financial risk to which subcontractors are exposed”.
But I hope that the letter I wrote is also a constructive critique. ACEVO still supports the prime minister’s original aims. The ideas Mr Cameron set out in the Open Public Services white paper “are as relevant and important today as in 2011”. I know from my own discussions with the PM that he believes our sector does have the abilities to deliver a more citizen focused approach. And he does understand that public service reform is not simply about cutting costs but also about a more citizen and consumer approach.
What the NHS needs is the “right to challenge that there is in the Localism Act for local council services. It is time patients had the ability not simply to complain but to demand that their loved one is treated elsewhere if the hospital they are in is failing them. After all, the NHS Constitution does state that the “NHS belongs to the people".