Capitalising on Contracting out: Accounting for Firms Managing UK Household Waste

Friday, 3 July 2015: 2:15 PM-3:45 PM
TW1.3.03 (Tower One)
Colin Haslam, Queen Mary University of London, London, United Kingdom
The UK government has tasked itself with outsourcing public sector services to private providers and in this article our analysis is concerned with the outsourcing of UK household waste management services. A primary concern for UK Local Authorities is that of monitoring the extent to which their outsourced private finance initiative (PFI) contracts deliver value for money (VFM). Critical accountants focus on the contradictory logic(s) employed to justify the displacement of public services into the private sector. These observations focus on the ‘contract’ as the unit of analysis. In this article our analysis reframes the argument towards firm’s within which these contracts are bundled up and serviced. Outsourcing of UK household waste management is also a kind experiment because different types of reporting entity currently consolidate these contracts: multi-nationals, national firms, private equity partnerships and companies managed by local authorities. Analysis of these firms reveals the extent to which local councils (and households) are exposed to service risk because the viability of firms managing household waste services is variable and contingent.