Richard Vize Public Policy Media Ltd
LATEST ARTICLES
CV
Northern cities must lead HS2 debate 27 September 2013 The HS2 lobby should get the cities and towns that would benefit most from it to lead the campaign to get it built. Depending on the route, the beneficiaries include Birmingham, Manchester, Sheffield, Derby and Leeds. Sir David Higgins, the newly appointed chairman of the HS2 rail link, said yesterday that it is essential the £50bn scheme has cross-party backing. His remarks followed shadow chancellor Ed Balls' intimation that Labour might withdraw support if the costs climb. By threatening to withdraw Labour consent, Balls sees an opportunity to tout Labour's message that it can be trusted with taxpayers' money while kyboshing one of Chancellor George Osborne's flagship projects. The uncertainty is fuelled by the extraordinarily long and complex procedure for getting the route agreed, punctuated by court and parliamentary battles. Any major infrastructure scheme, no matter how compelling the arguments, would be destabilised by such a process. Read the full article on the Guardian local government network ____________________________________________________________________ Making police procurement a force 23 September 2013 The latest wave of reports from Margaret Hodge’s hyper active public accounts committee – six in the last week – include one on procurement which highlights the near futility of trying to herd organisations dispersed across the country into a national procurement scheme. Its report on police procurement reveals that the 43 police forces in England and Wales spend around £1.7 billion – 13% of their budget – on procurement. The Home Office has attempted to initiate value for money projects but forces have shown little interest in participating. As the MPs point out, the Home Office has failed to provide convincing evidence that the new approaches will indeed offer value for money. Hodge and her colleagues provide wincingly good examples of poor procurement – the price paid for handcuffs ranges from £14 to £43, while the price paid for boots varies from £25 to £114. Read the full article on Outsourcer Eye ____________________________________________________________________ Primary care crisis is driving change 20 September 2013 Primary care is about to be seized by a degree of turbulence and change that will make the acute sector look ordered and calm. The pressures for change are coming from every direction: the short-term crisis in A&E, the long-term need to move care out of hospitals, the need to improve access to GPs while reducing their workload, the tightening economics of general practice and the need to improve clinical quality. Looming over all this is the determination of Jeremy Hunt, the health secretary, to claim the government has "sorted out primary care". His speech to the King's Fund last week made plain his game: having decided that the Labour's 2004 GP contract is the source of problems ranging from poor care of older people to A&E pressures, he is going to rewrite it by next April, sweeping away bureaucracy and securing a "dramatic simplification" of targets and incentives. The demands for higher clinical standards and a wider range of community services are combining with the need for GPs to cut costs to eradicate singlehanded practices slowly. While GP federations and networks are growing, others are taking a more radical approach. Read the full article on the Guardian healthcare network ____________________________________________________________________ CBI must admit private sector faults 16 September 2013 The CBI IS pushing the public sector to improve its performance on commissioning and procurement. Now it should do the same with its own members. In her speech to the Government Knowledge Procurement Conference in London last week, CBI chief policy director, Katja Hall, had lots to say about the improvements the public sector could make to develop a strong procurement market. Changes the CBI wants include tackling the “skills deficit” in public sector commissioning to strengthen its ability to analyse needs and use the market effectively, as well as get the basics right around the  procurement process itself and then monitor performance effectively. “Many of our members remain frustrated by how public procurement currently works; they don’t encounter the right incentives to innovate and work together,” she said. But very often, public sector organisations feel much the same way about providers. Read the full article on Outsourcer Eye ____________________________________________________________________ Labour is stuck in policy black hole 13 September 2013 Labour Leader Ed Miliband has talked in broad terms about the need for a Labour government to "get on with devolving power away from Westminster to English local authorities and the people, without the need for mayoral referendums or such-like". However, as in other policy areas – where we had had to put up with the usual platitudes trotted out by opposition parties – we still don't know the party would actually do. Intriguingly, Miliband opens up the prospect of Labour introducing mayors without local consultation, but beyond that morsel we don't know what he means by devolution. Shadow communities secretary Hilary Benn talks enthusiastically about liberating cities – and, as the MP for Leeds Central, he has a local city council that is determined to improve skills and economic prospects across the region – but he has offered virtually no clue as to how this would translate into action. Read the full article on the Guardian local government network ____________________________________________________________________ MPs investigate public procurement 10 September 2013 The imminent inquiry by the Commons’ communities and local government select committee into procurement is opening up debate about whether the public sector is securing good value for money through the way it uses EU a UK procurement laws. The inquiry was announced in July, and the deadline for submissions passed last Friday. MPs want to know whether local government procurement is allowing councils to secure their social, economic and environmental objectives such as stimulating the local economy. This includes examining whether local authorities have the skills and expertise to run procurement effectively, whether they have sufficient understanding of the way different markets operate, and how good they are at negotiating and managing contracts, such as keeping them flexible to cope with budget cuts and other shocks. The submission to the inquiry from the Society of Local Authority Chief Executives highlights many of the problems with the “tortuous and frustrating” procurement process. Read the full article on Outsourcer Eye ____________________________________________________________________ Playing politics with the top NHS job 3 September 2013 Applications for the post of NHS England chief executive close this week. The winning candidate will be made or broken by their ability to negotiate the politics of health policy. While choosing the successor to Sir David Nicholson is nominally in the hands of NHS England chair Sir Malcolm Grant, in reality he will be sidelined from the process. Health secretary Jeremy Hunt will be in control, and Downing Street will be all over it. In terms of the Conservatives' electoral chances, this appointment is as important as the governor of the Bank of England. Like the Bank of England position, this is a role with an international profile, which will be filled after an international search. But the central role of politics in the job is a complicating factor when looking for candidates overseas. Even the chief executives of major healthcare companies, for example, may find the political environment of the health service tough to negotiate. Read the full article on the Guardian healthcare network ____________________________________________________________________ Fraud probe highlights transparency 3 September 2013 The revelation that justice secretary Chris Grayling has called in the police to investigate allegations of fraud by Serco again highlights the risk of corrosive cultures developing when there is a lack of transparency around public sector contracts. This is the second time in recent months that Serco staff have been accused of falsifying records. Investigations by the Guardian following information from a whistleblower revealed that the company had been falsifying data to cover up weaknesses in its out of hours GP contract in Cornwall. The comments by Grayling on the latest scandal quoted in the Guardian highlight the issue of openness and transparency. He said: “There has been a culture within parts of Serco that has been totally unacceptable… We have been clear with the company: unless it … becomes completely open with government about the work it is doing for us, then it will not win public contracts in future. The taxpayer must know that their money is being properly used." As the need to cut costs creates a surge in demand for public sector outsourcing, the issue of openness and accountability in the management and oversight that these contracts needs to be re-examined. Read the full article on Outsourcer Eye
September 2013
Richard Vize Public Policy Media Ltd
LATEST ARTICLES
CV
Northern cities must lead HS2 debate 27 September 2013 The HS2 lobby should get the cities and towns that would benefit most from it to lead the campaign to get it built. Depending on the route, the beneficiaries include Birmingham, Manchester, Sheffield, Derby and Leeds. Sir David Higgins, the newly appointed chairman of the HS2 rail link, said yesterday that it is essential the £50bn scheme has cross-party backing. His remarks followed shadow chancellor Ed Balls' intimation that Labour might withdraw support if the costs climb. By threatening to withdraw Labour consent, Balls sees an opportunity to tout Labour's message that it can be trusted with taxpayers' money while kyboshing one of Chancellor George Osborne's flagship projects. The uncertainty is fuelled by the extraordinarily long and complex procedure for getting the route agreed, punctuated by court and parliamentary battles. Any major infrastructure scheme, no matter how compelling the arguments, would be destabilised by such a process. Read the full article on the Guardian local government network ____________________________________________________________________ Making police procurement a force 23 September 2013 The latest wave of reports from Margaret Hodge’s hyper active public accounts committee – six in the last week – include one on procurement which highlights the near futility of trying to herd organisations dispersed across the country into a national procurement scheme. Its report on police procurement reveals that the 43 police forces in England and Wales spend around £1.7 billion – 13% of their budget – on procurement. The Home Office has attempted to initiate value for money projects but forces have shown little interest in participating. As the MPs point out, the Home Office has failed to provide convincing evidence that the new approaches will indeed offer value for money. Hodge and her colleagues provide wincingly good examples of poor procurement – the price paid for handcuffs ranges from £14 to £43, while the price paid for boots varies from £25 to £114. Read the full article on Outsourcer Eye ____________________________________________________________________ Primary care crisis is driving change 20 September 2013 Primary care is about to be seized by a degree of turbulence and change that will make the acute sector look ordered and calm. The pressures for change are coming from every direction: the short-term crisis in A&E, the long-term need to move care out of hospitals, the need to improve access to GPs while reducing their workload, the tightening economics of general practice and the need to improve clinical quality. Looming over all this is the determination of Jeremy Hunt, the health secretary, to claim the government has "sorted out primary care". His speech to the King's Fund last week made plain his game: having decided that the Labour's 2004 GP contract is the source of problems ranging from poor care of older people to A&E pressures, he is going to rewrite it by next April, sweeping away bureaucracy and securing a "dramatic simplification" of targets and incentives. The demands for higher clinical standards and a wider range of community services are combining with the need for GPs to cut costs to eradicate singlehanded practices slowly. While GP federations and networks are growing, others are taking a more radical approach. Read the full article on the Guardian healthcare network ____________________________________________________________________ CBI must admit private sector faults 16 September 2013 The CBI IS pushing the public sector to improve its performance on commissioning and procurement. Now it should do the same with its own members. In her speech to the Government Knowledge Procurement Conference in London last week, CBI chief policy director, Katja Hall, had lots to say about the improvements the public sector could make to develop a strong procurement market. Changes the CBI wants include tackling the “skills deficit” in public sector commissioning to strengthen its ability to analyse needs and use the market effectively, as well as get the basics right around the  procurement process itself and then monitor performance effectively. “Many of our members remain frustrated by how public procurement currently works; they don’t encounter the right incentives to innovate and work together,” she said. But very often, public sector organisations feel much the same way about providers. Read the full article on Outsourcer Eye ____________________________________________________________________ Labour is stuck in policy black hole 13 September 2013 Labour Leader Ed Miliband has talked in broad terms about the need for a Labour government to "get on with devolving power away from Westminster to English local authorities and the people, without the need for mayoral referendums or such-like". However, as in other policy areas – where we had had to put up with the usual platitudes trotted out by opposition parties – we still don't know the party would actually do. Intriguingly, Miliband opens up the prospect of Labour introducing mayors without local consultation, but beyond that morsel we don't know what he means by devolution. Shadow communities secretary Hilary Benn talks enthusiastically about liberating cities – and, as the MP for Leeds Central, he has a local city council that is determined to improve skills and economic prospects across the region – but he has offered virtually no clue as to how this would translate into action. Read the full article on the Guardian local government network ____________________________________________________________________ MPs investigate public procurement 10 September 2013 The imminent inquiry by the Commons’ communities and local government select committee into procurement is opening up debate about whether the public sector is securing good value for money through the way it uses EU a UK procurement laws. The inquiry was announced in July, and the deadline for submissions passed last Friday. MPs want to know whether local government procurement is allowing councils to secure their social, economic and environmental objectives such as stimulating the local economy. This includes examining whether local authorities have the skills and expertise to run procurement effectively, whether they have sufficient understanding of the way different markets operate, and how good they are at negotiating and managing contracts, such as keeping them flexible to cope with budget cuts and other shocks. The submission to the inquiry from the Society of Local Authority Chief Executives highlights many of the problems with the “tortuous and frustrating” procurement process. Read the full article on Outsourcer Eye ____________________________________________________________________ Playing politics with the top NHS job 3 September 2013 Applications for the post of NHS England chief executive close this week. The winning candidate will be made or broken by their ability to negotiate the politics of health policy. While choosing the successor to Sir David Nicholson is nominally in the hands of NHS England chair Sir Malcolm Grant, in reality he will be sidelined from the process. Health secretary Jeremy Hunt will be in control, and Downing Street will be all over it. In terms of the Conservatives' electoral chances, this appointment is as important as the governor of the Bank of England. Like the Bank of England position, this is a role with an international profile, which will be filled after an international search. But the central role of politics in the job is a complicating factor when looking for candidates overseas. Even the chief executives of major healthcare companies, for example, may find the political environment of the health service tough to negotiate. Read the full article on the Guardian healthcare network ____________________________________________________________________ Fraud probe highlights transparency 3 September 2013 The revelation that justice secretary Chris Grayling has called in the police to investigate allegations of fraud by Serco again highlights the risk of corrosive cultures developing when there is a lack of transparency around public sector contracts. This is the second time in recent months that Serco staff have been accused of falsifying records. Investigations by the Guardian following information from a whistleblower revealed that the company had been falsifying data to cover up weaknesses in its out of hours GP contract in Cornwall. The comments by Grayling on the latest scandal quoted in the Guardian highlight the issue of openness and transparency. He said: “There has been a culture within parts of Serco that has been totally unacceptable… We have been clear with the company: unless it … becomes completely open with government about the work it is doing for us, then it will not win public contracts in future. The taxpayer must know that their money is being properly used." As the need to cut costs creates a surge in demand for public sector outsourcing, the issue of openness and accountability in the management and oversight that these contracts needs to be re-examined. Read the full article on Outsourcer Eye