Private firms to help council debt

10th Febuary 2011.'Wakefield Town Hall'Picture: MATTHEW PAGE
10th Febuary 2011.'Wakefield Town Hall'Picture: MATTHEW PAGE
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COUNCIL bosses could soon work in partnership with private firms in a bid to save millions of pounds.

Wakefield Council cabinet members will consider proposals at its meeting next week to team up with private sector businesses to share the cost of services.

The move would result in companies, which are yet to be chosen, working with the council to provide £40m worth of back office support such as revenues and benefits, human resources and legal services.

It would affect around 2,000 council staff and at a briefing this week council leader Peter Box said he had a “positive” response from trade unions.

He said it would provide more jobs for people in the district and generate income for the council, as it could sell services to neighbouring local authorities.

Coun Box said: “This is about retaining jobs and retaining services.

“If we don’t do this, the chances are there will be less services and fewer jobs in the district.

“There will potentially be less people working directly for the local authority but I don’t think the general public will notice any changes.”

The report to cabinet on Tuesday suggests a number of options, including expanding an existing partnership with Norfolk Property Services (NPS), which could take on £25m worth of services such as school meals, cleaning, building maintenance, property services and catering.

Plans also include setting up a council-owned trading company to deliver social care services.

The decision comes as the council looks to make budget savings of £67m by 2015, but any benefits would not be felt until after 2013.

Coun Box: “This is not privatisation.

“We will still provide high quality services but, in some cases, in a different way. We are not looking to outsource our services.

“We are the biggest provider of public services in the district and will continue to be responsible for those services, even if some of them are provided in a different way in the future.”

The authority has already begun to work with community groups to transfer services like markets and libraries.