Parliament debate on outsourcing of public services ‘timely ahead of Social Value Act implementation’


Social Enterprise UK’s Chief Executive Peter Holbrook comments on today's debate in Westminster Hall on The Shadow State.

“We are delighted that Chris White MP has won time for this debate. It could not be more timely or important. Decades of public sector outsourcing have taught us some very painful lessons and it is usually the most vulnerable people in our society who bear the brunt when outsourced services are degraded in pursuit of shareholder profit. 



“The Public Services (Social Value) Act that Chris White MP created and got through Parliament with cross-party support provides a once-in-a-generation opportunity for commissioners to turn the tide. We are calling on them to embrace the Act which is coming into force in January. It gives them the green light to commission services that have the greatest value to society, rather than to go for lowest immediate cost, creating a race to the bottom in our public service markets.”

‘Shadow State’ emerging in public services 

The debate came on the back of a report published by Social Enterprise UK last month - The Shadow State - which details evidence that points to private companies providing lower-quality services in their drive to maximise shareholder profits.  Such companies, contracted by central and local government, are difficult to hold to account and operate without transparency, says the report. 

The Shadow State makes a number of recommendations including:

  • That the Act be supported with Statutory Guidance.
  • A call for open-book accounting on all public sector contracts with a value of more than £250,000 to help prevent excessive profiteering and increase transparency.
  • Calls for some Freedom of Information powers to be extended to businesses providing public services, where the information relates to public services, allowing for proportional cost burdens on smaller providers.

The Shadow State is the latest in our Campaign for Social Value.