Contractors working through Umbrella Companies may be baffled over what became of the Coalition’s pledge to open up the public sector to smaller freelancers but, courtesy of a new report, they have just been given an answer: there is a major skills deficit in the sector when it comes to commissioning.

As the REC was quick to point out, the report, which comes from the think-tank Institute for Government, implicitly highlights the need to bring in specialist contractors with skills in change management.

One of the authors, Tom Gash, writes: “Those involved in delivering these reforms are working hard but many in Whitehall are not yet confident they can ensure reforms improve rather than undermine service standards. Unless Government addresses some of these problems quickly, there is a risk that some of the mistakes of the past will be repeated.”

A key finding is that civil servants charged with writing government contracts “concentrate too much on securing a good price upfront rather than over the life of the contract.” This observation is music to the REC’s ears, which has long argued for public sector framework agreements designed to weigh up cost control priorities alongside other vital elements of a good contract, such as sustainability of supply and quality. It will push ahead with this issue in the months ahead.

PAYE Umbrella Contractors interested in public sector opportunities may be encouraged to hear that the Cabinet Office concedes the procurement skills deficits must be addressed.

The REC concludes that the public sector should be celebrating the contribution of contractors and interims.

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