Nominate your worst example of outsourcing

Unison are inviting nominations for the all new 'Wolfie Awards' - focusing on waste and service failure caused by the outsourcing of public services.

Unison are inviting nominations for the all new ‘Wolfie Awards’ – focusing on waste and service failure caused by the outsourcing of public services

UNISON is pleased to announce a new opportunity for private sector contractors delivering public services (and everyone else who has to deal with them). We are inviting nominations for the all new ‘Wolfie Awards’ (Full Name: The Big Bad Wolf Awards for Fairytale Contracting). Anyone is free to make their nominations here.

Waste and service failure caused by outsourcing of public services is not being taken seriously by the coalition government. Ministers talk about transparency and openness but have done nothing to open the system up to genuine scrutiny.

Each day brings more news of services suffering because of rash decisions to privatise or extend outsourcing. The stories in the national media often concentrate on Whitehall contracts or failures at high profile events such as the Olympics.

But a bigger, perhaps more important story is emerging in hospitals, councils, colleges and universities up and down the land: contracts are failing and companies are going bust at great expense to the taxpayer and nothing is being done to address the issue.

Take the example of Somerset County Council, who in September 2013 paid £5.9m to settle a contract dispute with Private company Southwest One who were supposed to be managing back office tasks for Somerset and several other public sector organisations. Southwest One tried to sue Somerset for £25m, but the matter was eventually settled out of court. The dispute centred on the level of charges and service quality.

Or how about Mouchel’s contract to manage a number of services at Milton Keynes Council? By August 2012 the contract was ended, amid serious questions about how much was paid to bring about early termination of the contract. The council announced that the original contract no longer allowed the “sufficient flexibility to operate most effectively in what is a very different political and economic environment”.

There are a rapidly growing number of cases such as these, and many more that are hushed up at local level with taxpayers being left non-the-wiser.

The Wolfies have been set up to get this issue the recognition it deserves. We want your examples of contractors who have failed to deliver on their promises – letting down service users and the workers who provide them. Please nominate here.

Sara Gorton is a senior national officer at UNISON

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