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In Ireland, the general policy trend towards competitive tendering is increasingly apparent in social inclusion and community work. The dominant ideology is that efficiencies will be gained through competition and engagement of market forces and the private sector in the delivery of services. It is argued by government that this shift to competitive tendering is, in some instances, a requirement of EU and national public procurement law, and in other instances, driven by good practice.
This report, In Whose Interests? Exploring the Impact of Competitive Tendering and Procurement on Social Inclusion and Community Development in Ireland, traces the evolving move from grants to contract arrangements awarded after competitive tendering processes, and draws on international experience to name and examine the risks associated with this move.
Drawing on international experience, it identifies a number of risks associated with this policy direction including an increasing threat to the independence of organisations in the community sector and the voluntary sector; a reduction in the quality of services and supports that provides a façade of value for money; cherry-picking where ‘clients’ that are more likely to succeed are chosen over those that require more intensive supports; changes in the conditions of workers; the threat of privatisation and the changed relationship between community organisations and the state. It explores the Irish experience to date and makes a number of recommendations.