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Trade Union News from Finland
Purchaser-provider model contains serious risks to services

JHL (13.02.2012 - Juhani Artto) Within municipalities, use of the so called purchaser-provider model in offering services to citizens is proving to be problematic, Teija Asara-Laaksonen said last week in Hämeenlinna. She is the Vice-President of the Trade Union for the Public and Welfare Sectors. The model in question serves to separate or divide the organizing of services from the actual provision of these services. Under current legislation municipalities are mandated to organize a wide variety of services, especially in the health, social and educational sectors. When applying the purchaser-provider model municipalities outsource services.

In a survey, conducted in 2010, two thirds of the respondents (68 per cent) were of the opinion that the model's applications have increased costs and added to bureaucracy for municipalities. The respondents were city council members and representatives of service purchasers and providers. A majority of the respondents did not agree with the claim that the purchaser-provider model has led to improvement in services. One conclusion was that freedom of choice has materialized weakly.

Asara-Laaksonen defended the idea of municipalities providing their own services as the best way to safeguard quality, reliability and also results in economic terms.

And she went on to point out that the programme of the previous government had strongly supported the outsourcing of municipal services and the purchaser-provider model but there is no such endorsement in the programme of the present government, led by Prime Minister Jyrki Katainen.