“Privatisation” of council services looms

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Burnley Borough Council is set to slash a number of key services, which in future will be run by private companies, as part of a huge cost-cutting plan.

The council’s Change Programme will see five departments transferred to the private sector in a bid to offset a £5m. cut in Government funding.

We will continue to campaign for a fairer funding distribution but we have to face the reality of the situation and deal with it.

Burnley Council leader Mark Townsend

Members will meet at Burnley Town Hall on Thursday to discuss the transfer of customer services and information technology services; revenues, benefits and debt management; payroll and human resources systems; asset and facility management services; and environmental health and licensing to an outside company.

Government funding cuts have already led to the loss of 145 full time jobs at the council.

Council leader Mark Townsend said: “The council continually needs to find large scale savings to remain financially sustainable while protecting and continuing to provide high quality services to residents.

“The Government’s austerity programme has put us in a very difficult position. The way funding is allocated is unfair and hits the most deprived communities like Burnley the most.

“We will continue to campaign for a fairer funding distribution but we have to face the reality of the situation and deal with it. The massive cuts in the amount of money Government gives us mean that we have to review everything that we do and how we do it and make some very tough decisions.”

Council employees working in the services which form part of the contract would transfer to the private company, with terms and conditions protected.

Council chiefs admitted that the changes will result in different working practices, but promised it would support “vulnerable” customers and explain any changes to the way people will experience services.

It is not the first time the council has outsourced services – last year saw the creation of the Burnley Leisure Trust this year has seen the appointment of a commercial partner to deliver waste management services.

Helen Seechurn, Burnley’s Director of Resources, said: “The intended outcome of the Change Programme is to ensure the council remains financially strong and resilient and is able to deliver substantial savings in running costs.”