As we continue to emerge from lockdown measures and deal with local measures and the short and long term economic impact of Covid-19, local authorities will need to re-assess how services will be delivered for years to come.
This is happening in local government and central government, especially the National Health Service. Because “public service mutuals” actually constitute a wide variety of legal forms, the extent to which mutuality and employee leadership actually are the modus operandi of these organisations will inevitably vary.
One development that many in the cooperative movement should welcome is the requirement in England, on any organisation that has to comply with the EU procurement regime, to consider the economic, social and environmental well-being of the area that they serve and how improvements in the well-being should be built into the procurement process for services. This requirement to think about the place that they are responsible for holds the key to sustainability being embedded in contracted-for services: for some public bodies, especially Government departments, their responsibility for people and place is what they have failed to grasp in delivering real value for money. Yes, this is the true meaning of the Public Services (Social Value) Act 2012.
Cooperatives, social enterprises and the voluntary sector have often regarded the application of competition rules as something best to avoid when seeking contracts to deliver public services. Actually, it depends.
Under the current EU procurement rules, for some services such as care, health and sport (categorised as “Part B” services) it has been possible for contracts to be awarded without a competitive tender where there is thought to be a lack of “cross-border” market.
New EU rules coming in some time (we think) in 2014 pose new challenges and opportunities.
New challenges include the sweeping away of the Part B categorisation so that for many services currently under that heading they will have to be tendered competitively if the contract is of a value above 750,000 euro. But competition, if done well, really can be healthy and does not need to exclude the likes of cooperatives. The skill is in setting up competitions that really do allow the governance of a mutual to be part of the service solution.
There are also new opportunities because social characteristics in the requirements of a contracting authority will have greater explicit prominence. In addition there will be the scope to have tendering exercises for a very limited list of public services limited to competition between, effectively, social enterprises (although the definition does warrant examination!), which will exclude the private sector from such services.
What this means is that any person contemplating setting up a public service mutual must expect to participate in some sort of competitive tendering exercise, certainly from 2015 onwards. The only way that mutuals can flourish in public services is for the Cooperative movement (with others of like mind) to give its full backing and resources to creating fit-for-competition public service mutuals that can compete effectively with a corporate sector that is struggling to recover its own credibility. This would be a good news story to build over the next decade.
Mark Cook is a partner at Anthony Collins Solicitors. Mark has over 20 years’ experience of advising on relationships between the public, private and not for profit sectors. He is a leading expert in sustainable procurement and uses his specialist knowledge to position social value in the heart of public services.
For more information
Contact Mark Cook on firstname.lastname@example.org or 0121 212 7472.
The Government first announced plans for a shared ownership right to buy in October 2019. At the time the sector raised concerns about the impact the plans would have on housing associations ability to borrow. An election and a pandemic later the Government announced, during the CIH Housing Festival last week, the return of the right to shared ownership as part of its Affordable Homes Programme (AHP).
Two final pieces of the possession jigsaw have been published on 15 September 2020. Mr Justice Knowles’ working group on possession proceedings has issued its guidance on the “overall arrangements” for possession proceedings.
One change proposed by the Building Safety Bill is the introduction of a duty holder regime, which will see statutory responsibility for the safety of higher risk buildings placed on key individuals
Throughout this pandemic, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has been publishing various “Statements on Coronavirus” (Statements) which provide guidance on consumer rights during this time.
A recent increase in COVID-19 cases in the UK means new measures are being put in place in an effort to reduce the risk of a second wave. Whilst the impact of COVID-19 continues to be felt, it is important to remain focused on the sector’s road to recovery.
Sometimes half an hour at a conference gives you the reality that has been staring you in the face all along. That was my experience watching “Change is on the Horizon”
Following our recent e-briefing on Possession Notices, Helen Tucker and Emilie Pownall from our housing litigation team discuss the impact of the changes on social landlords.
Not only has the possession stay been extended until 20 September, the notice periods to be given to tenants has been extended in certain circumstances with some important exceptions.
The Court has confirmed that a party cannot withhold its consent in order to re-write the original bargain.
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