Conservative Home

« Social worker vacancies | Main | Lib Dem councillor blocked ambulance »

Why Essex is turning to the private sector

HannigfieldLord Hanningfield, the Leader of Essex County Council, on how he hopes to save £200 million a year. But he won't be using it to cut Council Tax.

I am unapologetic in wanting the absolute best for the people of Essex. This means delivering the best quality services at the very best price. I am also proud that in Essex we are creating one of the most
innovative authorities in the country unafraid at doing things differently if it delivers on those twin objectives.

Let me explain both our underlying philosophy and the route we are now engaged upon.

ECC exists to serve the people of Essex and to assist in delivering to them the best quality of life available. To do this we need to provide world class services at an affordable cost. This means radically changing how we currently operate. Our ultimate aim is to save over £200m a year by finding better ways of delivering services. These savings will be channelled into front line services to the benefit of our communities.

We have already begun this process ourselves. Improvement programmes over the last couple of years have saved over £60m and will deliver over £35m more savings next year. We are also in the forefront of
introducing new ways of delivery including self-directed-support that allows each individual to make their own choices about the support and care they wish to receive.

These savings have helped us keep our latest Council Tax increase to below 2%, while still investing in priority areas like education, older people, youth offending and highways.

However, we now need to do more, and to do it more quickly.

Our residents will not thank us if we take years to deliver improvements and cost savings that we could have delivered in months. Indeed, based on our aim of saving £200m a year, every month of delay would cost the council taxpayers of Essex over £16m per month - or £30 a year each. That is why we are moving ahead with this more quickly and on a greater scale than any other authority and is why we need to turn to the private sector.

Private sector skills, capacity and experience will help us transform ECC and will ensure that our targets are delivered. We have therefore invited expressions of interest from the market on how we can deliver
services in new or different ways including those not yet considered by the public sector. Potential partners must also provide clear evidence that any new approach will deliver savings and genuine value for money. Clearly we cannot rule out any new model of service delivery and the contract with our partner will obviously allow for that.

We hope to have selected a partner in late March or early April.

The fundamental issue for us is about making sure we have the right quality service at the right cost, whether that is in-house, delivered elsewhere or a combination of the two.

I am also very clear that we intend to pay our partners for delivery, not promises. It will be in their interests to provide us with their best quality people and advice. They will of course be held to account at every step.

This is a hugely ambitious project worth potentially £5.4 billion over eight years and, again, potentially covering every part of our existing operation. However, I believe it goes to show the scale of own ambitions that we have for improving services to our residents and for the organisation itself.

I am confident that what Essex is doing will help shape the future of modern public service delivery and of the local government sector itself.

We recognise that local government has to change and do things differently if it is to meet the ever growing expectations and needs of the people it serves, and at Essex, we are committed to taking a lead on doing this and delivering the best quality of life for our residents.


You must be logged in using Intense Debate, Wordpress, Twitter or Facebook to comment.