A major report from The Institute for Government, a leading think tank working to make government more effective, has rated the Privatisation of the Probation Service as the worst contemporary example of an outsourcing project.
The IFG report is one of the most comprehensive critiques in recent years of the value of outsourcing public services. Whilst the authors overall analysis is that some examples of outsourcing have provided benefits to the taxpayer, they have identified a litany of continuing problems around communications, a lack of commercial acumen and under-priced bids which fail to deliver what is expected in the contract.
One of the most telling conclusions is as follows: ‘They (Government) must outsource for the right reasons – where private providers benefit from expertise, economies of scale or new technologies that enable them to deliver services better or more cheaply, or where competition can improve performance. They should not outsource where there is no reason to think it will work, as with probation, or in pursuit of unrealistic cost savings. They must develop better evidence to inform these decisions.
Ian Lawrence Napo General Secretary comments: ‘While this verdict will not come as a surprise to Napo members, it speaks volumes in terms of vindicating all of the warnings and predictions of chaos that Napo made, even before Chis Grayling implemented the Transforming Rehabilitation programme in 2015 against all conventional wisdom.’
He added: ‘The problem is that Napo members will take some convincing that lessons have been learned as we move into the procurement stages for the proposed Probation Provider contracts that are scheduled to come into effect in 2021. There is no empirical evidence to suggest that the concept of a Mixed Market for Probation has any chance of succeeding, and the whole project should be halted pending a full public enquiry into TR.’