Direct Service Organisations (DSOs) must change if they are to have a future, local government workers' unions the T&G and GMB claimed last week.
In a report called Strategies for Survival & Success, the unions recognise that a big shake-up needs to take place in the management and structure of DSOs so they can compete effectively with private sector businesses.
"Simply to back DSO services, irrespective of value or quality, is no longer a credible local authority strategy," the reports says. "It is not in the interests of council workers to allow traditional ways of working. Nor is it in our interests to deliver services at costs which lose contracts."
It adds that the DSO of the 1990s should no longer have "the structure and hierarchy of an army regiment". Instead, it should employ "a flat management structure and a new style of enabling management".
It says DSOs must now work on introducing policies such as team working and minimal management structures to improve efficiency.
The report costs £10 and is available from the T&G on 0171-828 7788.