Challenge to in-sourcing policy

Monday 29th July 2019

Care providers say Scottish Labour plans to see councils take services back in-house are a ‘blunt instrument’ which fails to take into account the work of charities.

Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard has spoken of his wish to see local authorities take privately run out-sourced services back under control and run them themselves.

It mirrors the policy of Labour politicians in England, who say the public sector delivering services should be the “default option”.

But third sector groups providing care for older and disabled people say they’re concerned at the proposals.  

Annie Gunner Logan, of the Coalition of Care and Support Providers in Scotland, says the plans fail to recognise the support provided to more 200,000 people by the charities she represents.

She told healthandcare.scot “I think they’re gunning for the Sercos and the Capitas, but this is a bit of a blunt instrument.

“If they are going to, in effect, legislate to compel authorities to bring services back in-house, then in my view that’s just as bad as compelling outsourcing in the first place because there is no nuance. It’s a dogmatic position that is not based on evidence.

“If your solution to addressing that is to bring everything back in-house then you’re actually sacrificing an awful lot of good stuff on the altar of ideological purity,” she added.

In a speech in March this year, Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard spoke of his hope that ‘we can end the economics of privatisation and outsourcing and bring modern public services into public ownership.’

Labour announced a major policy in July that a future Jeremy Corbyn-led government would legislate so that the default would be for the public services to deliver their own services.

In response to this, the Labour leader of North Ayrshire Council Joe Cullinane tweeted that ‘we are already committed to insourcing – over 70% of our care contracts are currently in house, for example.’

Ms Gunner Logan wants Labour to clarify its plans urgently.

She has raised concerns the party’s agenda could clash with self-directed support, a reform that aims to give people more power over how their care is organised.

“For some time now in care and support we have all been subscribing to this agenda whereby it’s the people who use the services and their families who get to be in the driving seat and they get to exercise choice and control,” Ms Gunner Logan said.

“So, the idea that a political party is going to decide once and for all time, a priori, that their needs will best be served by doing it this way just seems to be totally undermining everything we’ve been working for last 10 years.”

And Ms Gunner Logan adds third sector delivered care regularly receives the highest proportion of top ratings from Scotland’s care watchdog.

“I cannot see a good argument for bringing back successful high quality, value-for-money voluntary sector services which people want and have chosen. What on earth rationale would you have for bringing that back in-house?”

Scottish Labour has yet to respond to a request from healthandcare.scot for comment.

North Ayrshire Council says, where services have been brought in-house, it has been for the sake of users and staff.

A spokesperson told us:

“A number of care contracts have been insourced as a result of the market failure of some external providers. The insourcing of these contracts has secured the continuity of care that users require as well as improving the terms and conditions of the workforce.”

 

PICTURE: Annie Gunner Logan, director of the Coalition of Care and Support Providers in Scotland