Council tendering out services in big shake up

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By Cara Sulieman

A COUNCIL is preparing to tender out a raft of its services to private firms – potentially putting thousands of jobs at risk.

Edinburgh City Council is contracting out services such as bin collection, street cleaning and school meals in the biggest shake up of its kind to date.

Over two thousand staff could be affected by the changes as the council desperately tries to save money.

With a £90m black hole over the next three years, the local authority is facing one of the worst financial crises in a century.

“Unparalleled”

If the services are re-tendered the council could make savings of between 10 and 30 per cent in each area.

The leader of Edinburgh City Council Jenny Dawe said: “The financial situation facing the council is unparalleled.

“The council must continue to provide maximum value for taxpayer’s money, while delivering the quality frontline services that residents expect.

“We must therefore radically review the council’s operations to transform customer service and secure real efficiencies.

“Proposals would only be progressed where a strong business case demonstrated.”

“All options”

Seventeen services will be put up for the process and they will be grouped into three categories: corporate and transactional services, property and facilities management and environment services.

Companies will be able to bid for individual services or a whole group.

Each service will be advertised in the European Journal in January if councillors back the plans at a full council meeting next month.

The plans could lead to job losses if companies think they can run a service with fewer staff. However, pension rights would be protected.

Councillor Dawe said: “The council is committed to working constructively with the trade unions to explore and evaluate all of the options, and staff will be kept informed of any decisions.”

Tom Aitchison, chief executive of the council said: “A range of research studies have indentified that public sector organisations have typically achieved savings of between 10 per cent and 30 per cent.

“It is not possible to predict the level of savings in Edinburgh that could result from the programme until the competitive dialogue process is completed.”

Areas set to be offered by the council to private firms include:

Environment:

Refuse collection

Street cleansing

Ground maintenance

Property and facilities management:

Building maintenance

Security

Mail

Janitorial/caretaker

Reception

Porterage

Event management

Room booking

Ground maintenance

Corporate and transactional services:

Revenue and benefits

Human resources

Payroll

Procure to pay

Contact centre

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