Keeping it in the family

The rationale for outsourcing services has long been an article of faith across the public sector. Lower costs, greater expertise, increased economies of scale. Or so says the theory, at least. And it is a rare local authority – or NHS trust, university or other publicly-funded body – that hasn’t contracted out at least some of its activities.

But what once seemed such a rock-solid argument appears now to be built on less-than-stable foundations. Continue reading

VFM: It’s about the value, not the money

With higher education institutions in England being required to report annually on value for money, universities need to raise their game when talking about what they do and how well they do it.

As funding gets tighter and competition for students becomes more intense, our higher education institutions are coming under increasing pressure to justify the public investment that they receive. So it is now more important than ever that we are able to explain clearly and effectively what we do and how we use the funding entrusted to us to create lasting value. Continue reading

The cost of things

I am a big fan of the ‘slow’ movement. For those not familiar with the concept, ‘slow’ is about doing things mindfully, taking the time to focus on what we are doing and making a conscious effort to do it well. ‘Slow food’, for example, encourages people to choose fresh, high quality ingredients, to cook them with care and to take the time to enjoy eating them, preferably with family or friends. Continue reading

From block grant to spot purchasing

I went to an excellent seminar the other day, in which Bristol City Council’s health and social care commissioning team explained key changes in how they are going to fund various organisations around the city. But while the changes make sense financially and in terms of service user choice, they could spell problems for the provider organisations concerned. Continue reading

Social Impact Bonds: What’s the deal?

They are being touted in some quarters as the solution to the funding crisis in public services. A way of bringing private sector investment to address social issues. Perhaps, even, as the successor to the Private Finance Initiative (PFI). But what are social impact bonds and how do they work? Continue reading