Islington Council is to consult on an historic proposal that could give hundreds more workers better pay and conditions, improve the quality of council services and deliver better value for money for tax payers.

Last week the council’s Executive agreed to consult on a policy that looks to deliver services in-house by default whenever possible in future.

The proposal is backed by almost a decade of evidence amassed in Islington that, in the vast majority of cases, insourcing – or bringing private sector contracts back in-house – has benefitted both residents and staff.

From cleaning services and housing repairs to refuse collection and education services, it is estimated that more than £400million worth of contracts have been brought back in-house by Islington Council since 2010. It is one of the biggest insourcing programmes in the country, generating net savings of about £14million.

Cllr Andy Hull, executive member for finance, performance and community safety, said:

“For almost a decade we have been turning our back on outsourced contracts that made for expensive arrangements and below-par results. From housing repairs to education support, we knew we could offer both better services and better value for money for our residents by doing it ourselves.

“The main driver for delivering a council service should always be quality, not profit; value for money, rather than value for shareholders.

“With central Government cutting our core funding by 70% since 2010, every penny counts, and bringing services back in-house benefits everyone. Residents and businesses get better-quality services, and staff get better pay and conditions.

“While the private sector – from Carillion to Capita – lurches from disaster to disaster, costing UK taxpayers millions, our strong track record of insourcing means it’s common sense to make it our default option in future.”

Cllr Asima Shaikh, executive member for inclusive economy and jobs, added:

“Providing services in-house also helps us to carve out a fairer employment landscape for local people, and incorporate greater social value in our work.

“Recruiting locally means creating more opportunities for our residents to get back into work, or to find good-quality, long-term employment in which they can thrive. In turn, this supports our community wealth building agenda, and greatly advances our ambition to create a fairer, more inclusive local economy.”

As well as the savings, Islington’s insourcing programme has so far secured better pay and conditions for more than 1,400 frontline staff. As a London Living Wage employer, and one of the first to achieve the Mayor of London’s ‘Good Work Standard’ for high employment standards, the council is committed to offering healthy, fair and inclusive workplaces for its staff.

Services have improved too: Earlier this year, Islington’s streets, which were cleaned by a private operator until the service was brought in-house in 2013, were independently assessed as being cleaner than they had been for at least a decade.

If, following consultation, the policy is adopted, the council’s default position will be that services will be delivered in-house unless it can be demonstrated that outsourcing them would be better for residents in terms of service quality and cost.

There will still be some services which are better provided by outside organisations. Proposals to continue outsourced arrangements will be challenged by the council’s Commissioning and Procurement Board, which will assess each service in terms of quality as well as financial and social value.

Notes to editors

Since 2010, Islington has brought the following services back in-house:

Building cleaning services (2010);
Housing management (2012);
Education services (2012);
Refuse and recycling collection, street cleansing and grounds maintenance services (2013);
Housing repairs service and gas servicing and maintenance (2014);
‘Handyperson’ service for older people, disabled people and unpaid carers (2014);
Housing concierge service (2015);
Temporary Accommodation (2018)
The £400million value of the contracts already brought back in-house, the net saving of £14million, and the 1,400 frontline staff referred to above are approximations, calculated using estimates provided to the Executive at the time that each contract was brought back in-house.

On Thursday 19 September, the council’s Executive agreed to consult on the above policy proposal. The council has a duty to consult with specified groups: local taxpayers, local ratepayers, service users, and persons appearing to have an interest in the area. The consultation will run via the council’s website for 30 days following the expiry of the call-in period for the Executive’s decision.

Photo caption: In March this year, Islington’s street sweepers celebrated winning a Keep Britain Tidy award for Outstanding Service Delivery. They are pictured with Cllr Claudia Webbe, executive member for environment and transport.

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