Unison has called on the government to set out a new code of conduct for the delivery of public services by private companies following the crisis at Carillion.
In a letter to Cabinet Office minister David Lidington, Unison general secretary Dave Prentis said that the default choice for public service contracts should be in-house service provision – but where private companies needed be involved there should be “a set of principles to ensure that the driving force and prime consideration is the public, not the private interest”.
He went on to suggest a ‘Nolan’ for 21st century public services was required, referencing the Nolan principles adopted in the 90’s following the ‘cash for questions’ scandal.
The principles are:
Prentis said that the failure of construction and outsourcing contractor Carillion showed that “it’s time to reassert the public service ethos when it comes to the delivery of public services” and attacked private contractors who won public business only to increase profits by lowering pay and work benefits, saying that such practices “not only place extra demands on the public purse, they also create future liabilities for the state when those workers retire with little or no pension entitlement”.
Prentis added: “Selflessness and integrity mean there can be no place for companies that use tax havens, that blacklist workers for belonging to unions, make it hard for unions to represent the workforce, and generate profits by attacking pay and terms and conditions.”