New government: the task ahead

  • BSA staff
  • 13 May 2015
Landscape front cover

As the new government settles in to tackle the challenges of taking the country forward, this is an ideal time to seize the moment for efficiency and civil service reform and transform the relationship between the public, private and voluntary sectors.

The public-private relationship needs to make positive progress over next five years, both in government and in the public eye, challenging suggestions of inefficiency, poor quality and lack of value.

And as the government strives towards the “efficiency revolution” promised by the Conservative manifesto, a pragmatic and balanced view should be taken by government on the significant role the private and voluntary sectors can continue to play in delivering the best possible services for the British people.

Already, significant progress has been made over the last five years to boost the competitiveness and success of the private sector, reducing the burden of regulation and creating a supportive environment for small and medium enterprises. The UK economy has benefitted from such changes and the public sector is now in a position to do the same. With a thriving value-led and transparent private sector working in tandem with an efficient, outcomes-focussed public sector, better services can be provided across the country.

The government should foster responsible and responsive working relationships that can enable the private and voluntary sector to deliver value for tax-payer money, drive innovation and quality, and offer social value through the jobs it produces and by endorsing fair business practices.

The BSA – Business Services Association – works closely with its members to promote transparency, accountability, fair wages, and workforce value across the sector and represents members as they continue to provide improved services.

The government must also make commitments. The Conservative manifesto pledged to “continue to make government more transparent” and “to cut out wasteful spending and make government more efficient, effective and accountable.” Nowhere will these pledges produce more value than in public procurement and delivery of services.

By ensuring greater visibility of public sector needs in the procurement process, private partners will be better equipped to deliver positive outcomes; by appointing responsible and accountable personnel to oversee long-term contracts, stronger and more fruitful relationships will be built; and by reducing the barriers to tendering and supporting responsible practice with supply chains, competitive and mature business can be stimulated. As a matter of principle, the public sector must be held up to the same standards in transparency and payment practices as the private sector.

In the aftermath of a vote of confidence by the British public for the new government, Ministers and legislators can act confidently to continue the reforms and initiatives of the past five years and to see those successes translated and augmented in the areas where they will most benefit the electorate.

Public sector efficiency, industrial relations and government transparency should be a focus. The government has the mandate to drive efficiency and reform in the Civil Service, to follow through on the vision set out by the Conservative manifesto, and to build for the public and private sector an environment which supports, advances and improves the delivery of high-quality public services for Britain.

The BSA and its members stand ready to work alongside the government as the country continues on its journey of change and looks forward to the developments which, no doubt, lie ahead for the sector.

  Related topics: Procurement, Public service reform, Economy and growth