Posted by: westlancashirerecord | May 11, 2018

Could We Hold Serco To Account For Its Leisure Services Failures In WLBC?

The Committee for Standards in Public Life (CSPL) 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. As we in West Lancashire know, Serco pleads “commercial in confidence” to hide financial matters such as the Beacon Park Golf Course landfill royalties that poured in for the now disgusting “developments” requiring major re-profiling that in itself Leisure Services will not disclose. 

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 also 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”.

All public service providers must, at the point of commissioning, publish a corollary “Statement of Providers’ Intent” providing their plan for embedding a culture of high ethical standards in their service delivery approach during the life of the contract. This statement should reference the providers’ approach to ethical leadership, performance management, induction and ongoing professional training on ethical issues and honesty in reflecting performance issues during the life of the contract. 

Imagine if Serco Leisure Services and Oakland Golf and Leisure Services Ltd were obliged to explain what happened to the money while this  and this  happened at Beacon Park Golf Course ?

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