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BSA predicts a 'significant year'

03 January 2008

The 'Beginning Of Year Message' from Mark Fox sets out the key issues for a 2008 for business services sector including countering the growing trend for outsourced services to become political whipping blocks when things do not turn out as originally envisaged.

Mark Fox, chief executive of the Business Services Association states in his Beginning of the Year Message: "2008 is set to be a significant year economically and politically. The BSA will continue to energetically promote the interests of member companies providing business and outsourced services in the private and public sectors. We will do this by continuing to work closely with politicians, regulators, the media and other stakeholders in the UK and Brussels to increase knowledge and understanding about the industry.

This is a dynamic and innovative industry, driving increased productivity and efficiency, offering increased choice and diversity. It is also an industry that has a significant impact on the UK economy operating in all sectors, across every region of the country.

Both Gordon Brown and David Cameron referenced the industry in their Party Conference speeches last autumn and perhaps the most publicly visible arena in which the industry operates is the delivery of services in the public sector. Senior politicians of all the major parties are agreed that the industry must play a vital role in helping to deliver these services.

But in recent times some political rhetoric has betrayed a creeping ambivalence to the role of the private sector in the delivery of public services. It would be a mistake if this political rhetoric manifested itself in public policy.

Similarly it has become perhaps too easy for the providers of outsourced services to become political whipping blocks when things do not turn out as originally envisaged.

A service that is outsourced from the public sector should not mean the public sector abrogates its responsibility for management and accountability in delivering the service. Executive responsibility does not end when something is outsourced. In other words the nature of responsibility changes but is not ended.

The BSA will continue to work to ensure this principle is clearly understood.

At a time when official reports indicate concern about the number of high quality providers bidding for public sector contracts the industry and the BSA needs to continue to work with the Government, MPs, officials, the media and others to ensure the public sector remains an attractive place in which to provide business and outsourced services.

The industry is a major driver of change and innovation in the private and public sectors and the BSA will continue to work to improve understanding about the significance of that contribution and promote policy proposals that will help to keep the industry competitive and successful.

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