Competition watchdog the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) will investigate the way Government and local authorities buy services in a bid to ensure that competition law is being respected.
The OFT has already studied the role of Government in markets and plans to spend the next year analysing the Government's role in buying, selling and using services. One part of that activity will be its examination of how the Government commissions services.
"The study's objective is to provide constructive and practical guidance to policymakers and commissioners of public services in local, central and devolved government on how to take due account of competition issues in the procurement of public services," said an OFT statement.
"By collecting evidence on the impact of specific purchasing practices, our aim is to help policymakers and procurers preserve and promote competition in public services markets," said OFT senior director of services and public markets Sonya Branch.
"Used in the right places and in the right way, vigorous competition among public services providers can increase efficiency, improve the quality and range of services on offer, and achieve a better allocation of resources," said Branch. "In the long-term it can also lead to greater innovation, and substantial savings for the taxpayer."
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