What a surprise! “Outsourced public services ‘still not adopting ethical standards’ “

“Little significant progress has been made on reinforcing ethical standards in outsourced public services, a Lords committee has cautioned.

It also suggested a consultation be set up looking at whether the Freedom of Information Act should apply to private sector providers working on public sector contracts, the Lords committee on standards in public life also said in report out yesterday.

Chair Lord Bew noted “very little progress” had been made on implementing the recommendations of the committee’s 2014 report, aimed at enhancing the ethical standards of contractors commissioned by the public sector.

“Disappointingly, very little progress has been made on implementing these recommendations and evidence shows that most service providers need to do more to demonstrate best practice in ethical standards,” Bew said.

He called for services providers to “recognise that the Nolan Principles apply to them, for moral courage among key financial and other professionals in securing and maintaining high ethical standards”.

The Nolan Principles were drawn up in 1995 and are seven ethical standards people in public office are expected to uphold: selflessness, integrity, objectivity, accountability, openness, honesty and leadership.

Bew added: “Some [service providers] remain dismissive of the Nolan Principles or adopt a ‘pick and mix’ approach which is not in the public interest.”

The committee noted one-third of government spending is on external providers and that “the public is clear that they expect common ethical standards”. But some providers were not applying these public sector ethical standards in their work, the Lords concluded.

Bew said the committee called for a “consultation on the extension of the application of the Freedom of Information Act to private sector providers where information relates to the performance of a contract with government for the delivery of public services”.

The committee recommended that service providers should acknowledge the Nolan Principles applied to them.

Bew also said: “The committee remains of the view that more must be done to encourage strong and robust cultures of ethical behaviour in those delivering public services.”

The CSPL report suggested commissioners of services should include a ‘statement of intent’ in addition to contracts to set out the ethical behaviours expected by the government.

In the light of the collapse of Carillion, the committee suggested it is “essential” that ethical standards are reinforced for those delivering services with public money.

The report released yesterday is one in a series being done by the committee on ethical standards of providers of public services.”


“Consult on extending FOI to private sector providers of public services: watchdog”

Owl says: can’t come a moment too soon for EDDC, Ccou table/Integrated Care System companies and our Local Enterprise Partnership!

“The Committee for Standards in Public Life has called for a consultation on whether the Freedom of Information Act should apply to private sector providers where information relates to the performance of a public service contract.

In its latest report, The Continuing Importance of Ethical Standards for Public Service Providers, the CSPL said there had been little real progress on measures to enforce ethical standards in outsourced public services.
It urged the government, service providers and professionals to do more to encourage robust cultures of ethical behaviour in public service delivery.
Lord Bew, Chair of the Committee on Standards in Public Life, said: “From waste disposal to health care and probation services, all kinds of public services are routinely supplied to many of us by private or voluntary sector organisations, paid for with public funds – accounting for almost one third of government spending in 2017.

“The public is clear that they expect common ethical standards – whoever is delivering the service – and that when things go wrong there is transparency and accountability about what has happened.”

Lord Bew said that, “disappointingly”, very little progress had been made on implementing the recommendations in the CSPL’s 2014 report, Ethical standards for providers of public services. He added that evidence showed that most service providers needed to do more to demonstrate best practice in ethical standards.

“In particular, we remain concerned over the lack of internal governance and leadership on ethical standards in those departments with significant public service contracts. Departmental and management boards spend little, if any, time considering ethical considerations and tend to delegate such issues ‘down the line’. Those involved in commissioning and auditing contracts remain too focused on the quantitative rather than the qualitative aspects of their role. And departments lack clear lines of accountability when contracts fail,” the CSPL’s chair said.

He added: “While many service providers have developed a greater awareness of their ethical obligations in recent years, partly due to the high-profile failure of some organisations to adhere to these standards, some remain dismissive of the Nolan Principles or adopt a ‘pick and mix’ approach, which is not in the public interest. And many service providers continue to expect that setting and enforcing ethical standards remain a matter for government alone.”

Lord Bew said the committee remained of the view that more must be done to encourage strong and robust cultures of ethical behaviour in those delivering public services. “To that end, the Committee reaffirms the recommendations made in its 2014 report and has made a further set of more detailed, follow-up recommendations to address particular issues of concern.”


“Over a million elderly people missing out on help they need due to dire state of social care system, watchdog warns”

“More than a million vulnerable elderly people are missing out on help they need because of the dire state of the social care system, the UK’s spending watchdog has said.

The National Audit Office (NAO) called for urgent action as it published a detailed report citing evidence showing the number of people over 65 with unmet care needs jumped by some 200,000 in the last year alone.

The body said a spiralling turnover of poorly paid staff and increasing job vacancies are at the root of the problem, which is being worsened by ongoing deep cuts and fewer employees from the European Union since Brexit.

In particular, the NAO struck out at the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) for being unable to demonstrate how it is going to fund care for the elderly in the face of burgeoning future demand.

Ministers know working out how to pay for social care is one of the biggest challenges they face, but have been unable to bring forward clear proposals of how to meet it.

The report said the DHSC’s own modelling had shown the number of full-time jobs in the care system would need to rise by some 2.6 per cent per year until 2035 to meet increased demand.

But the annual growth in the number of jobs since 2013 has been two per cent or lower.

The report said: “The failure of formal care to meet this increased demand may have contributed to the growth in individuals’ care needs not being met.

“Age UK estimated that 1.2 million people over the age of 65 had some level of unmet care needs in 2016/17, up from one million in 2015-16.”

The NAO found that In 2016/17, the annual turnover of all care staff was 27.8 per cent – with care workers. …”


Young political adviser to George Osborne “carried more authority” than Swire

Matt Hancock was one of the “Cameron/Osborne gang” in the last parliament, acting as a SpAd (Special Adviser) to Osborne. He became an MP in 2010 and is now Cabinet Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport. In a (somewhat critical and unflattering profile of him there on an influential Conservative website there is an interesting bit of information on Hugo Swire:

“Hancock became Osborne’s chief of staff, sat with Ed Llewellyn (who played the same role for Cameron) in the room between their bosses’ rooms, attended the morning meetings in Cameron’s room and the preparation sessions for Prime Minister’s Questions.

“He was there throughout,” a Cameroon says. “He really was part of the gang.” A shadow minister of those years, pursuing a less gilded path, recalls:

“I knew him as one of the SpAds [Special Advisers – political Appointees] who wanted more power than shadow ministers. If Matt said something, it was his master’s voice [Osborne’s]. It carried more authority than, say, HUGO SWIRE.”

However, he and Swire apparently shared some characteristics:

I have to say I never took to the man [Hancock]. Clearly able in a Bank of England sort of way. But devoid of principle, transparently ambitious and pleased with himself beyond measure.”


So now we know – a junior MP had more authority than Swire!