Archives for December 18th, 2002

PRIVATE SECTOR BETTER AT MANAGING CALL CENTRES

Headlines, PublicNet: 18 December, 2002

Call centres providing a range of public services are managed better by private sector companies. They provide a better service and make more effective use of staff. These are conclusions from the National Audit Office report ‘Using Call Centres to Deliver Public Services’.The NAO survey found that call centres managed by private sector companies are generally better equipped, particularly with IT systems. They also have more flexible staffing arrangements to manage the volume of calls so that people rarely get an engaged tone. Where calls cannot be answered the caller hears a recorded message and is able to leave contact details for the centre to call back. The report quotes the department run Child Benefit Centre which answered 2.6 million calls in a year, but a further 5.4 million calls received an engaged tone. The Centre does not know how many times these callers had to redial and whether they eventually got through to an agent.

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COUNCILS PLEDGE TO HELP EACH OTHER OUT OF TROUBLE

Headlines, PublicNet: 18 December, 2002

More than 100 council leaders have signed up to a pledge that commits their councils to either give or receive support to improving services. The pledge ‘Moving towards excellence’ is sponsored by the Local Government Association and its aim is to make sure that there is no need for the Government to intervene in the running of any council by 2006.The Comprehensive Performance Assessment tables published last week showed 13 councils performing poorly, with a further 22 in the weak category. This assessment was limited to the largest 150 councils and the remaining 300 smaller councils will be brought into the assessment process in December next year. Councils in the bottom, poorly performing, category are subject to special monitoring and intervention by the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister if there is no marked and rapid improvement.

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POWER TO PARENTS

Abstracts, PublicNet: 18 December, 2002

By John Redwood and Nick SeatonThe authors calculate that if all the money followed the child, state schools would have a sum equivalent to the independent sector. They argue that with this funding all state schools could be freed from government and given the same legal status as an independent school. Headteachers would then have the same degree of autonomy and the state would pay a specified sum – in the region of 5,000 pounds per year – directly to the school. New schools would be allowed to open and existing ones to expand. All state schools would become Public Trust Companies, taking control over staffing, admissions, transport, management and assets from the LEA. Parents would then have direct control over their child’s education. Government would be seen as a funder and regulator, not a provider, of education. Teachers would be seen as responsible professionals. LEAs would become service providers, catering to the needs of schools which want them, on a competitive basis.

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