Minister for decentralisation Greg Clark has confirmed that the Localism Bill — which will be presented to parliament next week — will include legislation enshrining the right of civil society groups and others to challenge local authority provision where they can demonstrate that they can do better.
It is pretty clear that the Bill has been significantly influenced by the Conservatives’ think tank of the moment ResPublica, which recently launched a report setting out rights and strategies which the authors say will “capitalise the poor”. The report, To Buy, To Bid, To Build: Community Rights for an Asset Owning Democracy can be downloaded here and you can read more about the Localism Bill in Third Sector Online here. ResPublica’s website also has a short summary of the report here.
Significantly, Clark has said that the right to challenge will not be reserved only for civil society organisations and many are concerned that this will open the floodgates for private sector contractors to bid to run services and other public facilities — such as swimming baths, libraries, leisure centres and courts: what ResPublica terms the “public estate” — more cheaply than either public or civil society providers.
All the more reason then to fire off a quick letter in support of the Private Member’s BIll introduced by Chris White MP — the Public Services (Social Enterprise And Social Value) Bill, due to be debated on the 19th November — as mentioned previously in this post. If passed, White’s BIl would require public bodies to introduce social clauses into their procurement and tendering processes, thus requiring all businesses that bid to declare the social value their tender would produce.You can download template letters here.