Complaints over school tendering

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(First Edition)

ONE-THIRD of schools surveyed by the Audit Commission were dissatisfied with their cleaning, catering and ground maintenance as a result of services put out to competitive tender, writes Ngaio Crequer.

In other areas where contractors were invited to tender, almost half failed to do so, despite having satisfied the council that they could do the work.

Councils are required to put highways and building work out to tender and, since 1988, refuse collection, school catering, ground maintenance and cleaning of buildings.

The process has been 'fraught with problems', the commission says. These include dissatisfaction with the services provided, poor contract management by the authority, and lack of competition from tenderers.

Headteachers complained that school fields were not mown enough, waste paper bins had not been emptied and corridors not swept. Telephone calls were not answered and promised visits did not take place.

The total value of work under contract was almost pounds 2bn, having grown from less than pounds 100m before August 1989.

Realising the Benefits of Competition: The Client Role for Contracted Services; HMSO; pounds 8.50.