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The Election Manifestos: What they mean for outsourcing

by Jeremy Coward

This week we’ve seen the UK’s political parties release their manifestos for the 2015 General Election: the Conservatives have offered 1.3 million families the right to buy housing association properties, while Labour has pledged to boost the minimum wage and cut the deficit. But what do their prospective policies mean for the world of outsourcing?

The Conservative Manifesto

On page 19 of the Conservative’s manifesto, the party claims that it “will raise the target for SMEs’ share of central government procurement to one-third, strengthen the Prompt Payment Code and ensure that all major government suppliers sign up”.

The coalition had already set itself the target of giving 25 per cent of public sector contracts to SMEs, which it “supposedly” met during this term. If the Tories do come through with this policy, the increased target of 33 per cent would be a fantastic boost for the UK’s smaller service providers.

Kerry Hallard, CEO of the National Outsourcing Association, agreed with this sentiment, but warned that there are other problems affecting SMEs that also need to be addressed:

“There remains the issue of how many contracts are awarded directly and indirectly. Many SMEs work through subcontractors and these cause the bottleneck in payments – so although it all sounds great for smaller businesses, there is currently no guarantee of speedy payment to sub-contracted SMEs working on Government contracts.”

The Labour Manifesto

On page 24 of its election manifesto, the Labour party stresses the need for a larger number of paid apprenticeships in the UK:

“we will guarantee every school leaver that gets the grades an apprenticeship. We will create thousands more apprenticeships in the public sector, including the civil service. Every firm getting a major government contract, and every large employer hiring skilled workers from outside the EU, will be required to offer apprenticeships.”

Kerry Hallard commented: “Upskilling the UK’s outsourcing industry is critical to its growing success and is essential if the UK is to become the global strategic hub for outsourcing - which is a very real opportunity!

“Negotiation and relationship skills, as well as much-needed tech and digital skills, are critical in today’s work environment and not currently taught well in schools. Any initiative which provides today’s youths with jobs and upskills the UK’s workforce is more than a good thing – ignoring the requirement for these skills is a threat to the growth of the UK economy.”

The Green Party Manifesto

Interestingly the Greens have promised in their manifesto that, if they achieve power in May, they will aim to cut down on the outsourcing of government IT contracts.

A recent study conducted by Node4 found that more and more organisations in the UK are favouring IT outsourcing due to the country’s chronic tech skills shortage – the government is in exactly the same boat, meaning it might not be so easy to simply stop ITO all together.

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