Hackney Council will reveal next year how it plans to bring services in-house “in a meaningful way”.
The Town Hall’s Labour administration promised a review of all outsourced services, including in adult social care, in its manifesto for the 2018 London local elections.
Last week, Cllr Rebecca Rennison (Lab, Kings Park), cabinet member for finance and housing needs, updated councillors on the progress of the pledge, explaining that the insourcing of large scale services “is a big challenging project and takes an extended period of time”.
She said: “The reason we are, not taking our time, but making sure we do this thoroughly, is that it’s very easy to make a headline commitment that ‘we will seek to bring x amount of services inhouse.’
“Actually as soon as you start to explore it, doing it meaningfully is an incredibly complex process, whether you’re looking at challenges of where you locate services that you bring in-house, or whether you’re looking at how that service delivery remains competitive.
“One of the things we’re keen to avoid is a cyclical pattern where public bodies bring services in house enmasse, and then fifteen, twenty years later it gets contracted out, because it’s stopped working effectively and standards have slipped . We don’t want that to happen.”
The finance boss added that the Town Hall is “giving itself time to think about” how to structure the process of insourcing services, what the transition period between externally contracting a service and delivering one itself would look like, and how it would be monitored.
Cllr Rennison also spoke of the necessity for a balanced approach, warning that, as many local businesses rely on providing council services, the administration did not want to “make a big political commitment to insource and turn off the tap” for the local economy.
It is understood that the council is already taking a more proactive approach on the issue.
Adult social care contracts which are due to expire in the next two years are one example – the Town Hall is taking the default position that it will take on provision going forward, with the onus on officers to demonstrate why it would be impossible to bring care services back in-house.