new delivery models emerge but 'big society' yet to shape public services, CIPFA & Civica survey shows


Public sector organisations are adopting innovative new outsourcing models, shared services and in-house strategies to deliver local services and improve cost efficiencies, according to a survey by the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA) sponsored by Civica, a market leader in specialist systems and business process services that helps organisations achieve more cost-efficient ways of working.

But the most radical options such as partnering social enterprises are lower on the agenda, suggesting that the Big Society vision is not yet having a practical impact on service delivery.

The survey found that:

  • 61 per cent of public bodies mainly or substantially rely on in-house provision of services
  • 38 per cent are mainly or substantially using a range of local partners
  • 27 per cent are mainly or substantially sharing services with other public bodies
  • 16 per cent are mainly or substantially using outsourcing to private sector for service delivery
  • 6 per cent are mainly or substantially outsourcing to the third sector
  • 5 per cent of bodies are mainly or substantially using social enterprises for service delivery

CIPFA’s survey also shed light on the barriers to the success of new ways of delivering public services with greater efficiencies. Respondents said government investment is essential and the public sector must look ahead and change the way it does business to reflect the needs of the communities they serve.

Respondents also wanted to see greater scrutiny of outsourced service arrangements:

  • 94 per cent said that outsourcing bodies should be subject to performance/transparency standards
  • 95 per cent said decentralised bodies should be subject to the same supervision. 

Public bodies also felt IT would assist them with driving productivity, efficiency and cutting costs, particularly for back office functions. However, justifying funds for investment in this area has become more difficult, the survey showed. Staff costs were also deemed the top priority for making savings over the next two years.

Ian Carruthers, CIPFA Director of Policy, said

‘New methods of service delivery are important for public bodies at a time when they have to change the way they do business. But they will not provide easy or quick wins. Further work still needs to be done to overcome the legal, structural and governance problems associated with social enterprise models to make them viable choices’.

Bill Loughrey, Managing Director, local government, at Civica, commented

‘Public sector organisations are adopting a range of intelligent responses to rethinking services and saving costs in the face of the deficit reduction agenda. Because of the budgetary squeeze, we are seeing innovations such as councils working with partners specialising in new technologies and business process services to streamline the delivery of discrete service areas such as revenues & benefits.’


Contact: Lindsay Machin / Chloe Forbes
CIPFA Press Office
t 020 7543 /5645/5787
e /

Notes to Editors:

1. CIPFA conducted the survey in March and April 2011. CIPFA surveyed to 328 public sector professionals in all parts of the UK. The survey asked questions about the proposed changes to the way public services are delivered and how these will affect the public services agenda and operational environment.

2. About CIPFA

CIPFA, the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy, is the professional body for people in public finance. Our 14,000 members work throughout the public services, in national audit agencies, in major accountancy firms, and in other bodies where public money needs to be effectively and efficiently managed. As the world’s only professional accountancy body to specialise in public services, CIPFA’s portfolio of qualifications are the foundation for a career in public finance. They include the benchmark professional qualification for public sector accountants as well as a postgraduate diploma for people already working in leadership positions. They are taught by our in-house CIPFA Education and Training Centre as well as other places of learning around the world. We also champion high performance in public services, translating our experience and insight into clear advice and practical services. They include information and guidance, courses and conferences, property and asset management solutions, consultancy and interim people for a range of public sector clients. Globally, CIPFA shows the way in public finance by standing up for sound public financial management and good governance. We work with donors, partner governments, accountancy bodies and the public sector around the world to advance public finance and support better public services. This includes the development of local professional qualifications in African countries like Lesotho and Nigeria and in Europe in post conflict states in the Balkans.

3. About Civica

The Civica Group ( is an international market leader in specialist IT systems and business process services for the public sector. Through experienced people who understand service delivery, the Group applies software, managed services and outsourcing to help customers streamline their activities. Civica supplies more than 2,000 organisations in the UK, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Canada and the USA, including more than 90% of the UK’s local authorities.