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CBI calls for greater transparency in public services contracts

New measures to boost transparency and trust in private and third sector managed public services contracts have been proposed by the Confederation of British Industry (CBI).

Recommendations include publishing details of contracts online, releasing information more proactively, introducing a presumption towards open book accounting, and more structured auditing of government contracts.

John Cridland, CBI director general, said: “The public services industry is a great British and international success story. But public services businesses recognise that they operate in an industry which rightly demands close public scrutiny, which is why we are unveiling a range of measures to boost transparency and accountability.”

Therefore, as part of the proposals, the National Audit Office should be able to audit government contracts with the private sector. This should take place on a structured and systematic basis, to avoid adding a regulatory burden that would increase the cost of services, noted CBI.

Additionally, the business lobbying organisation has called for industry to work harder to boost public confidence in order to be able to do its job and generate trust in the public services sector. Currently, the government spends £187bn a year with 200,000 private firms managing public services, which in turn contribute £48.7bn to the economy and account for over 7% of GDP.

Ruby McGregor-Smith CBE, chief executive of Mitie, a FTSE250 strategic outsourcing company, and chair of the CBI’s Public Services Board, said: “The public services industry is proud of its contribution to the UK economy, helping to tackle the deficit, creating thousands of jobs and apprenticeships and exporting our services around the world.

“But all businesses that deliver public services need to do more to build a trusting relationship with the public and Mitie is committed to implementing the CBI’s recommendations on transparency.”

Looking ahead, the CBI expects public sector net deficit to stand at £80.1bn in 2015/16, down from £159.2bn in 2009/10, due, in part, to both tax revenue growth and public spending reductions. According to the organisation, this illustrates why the government must continue to open up public services to independent competition to get the best taxpayer value possible.

To view the full CBI proposal document, click here.

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