Ken Lyon 14 June 2018

Unleashing our commercial potential

Commercialism within a local authority setting is a strange and often misunderstood beast. It’s a fundamental part of enabling councils to continue to deliver services sustainably going forward – but the mention of the word commercial can arouse suspicion or resistance from citizens and staff alike? But what is it?

For me it’s about creating a business-like approach to service delivery and creating an environment where services are enabled to behave in an agile way to generate income or save money. Money that can be reinvested in developing or protecting services that otherwise wouldn’t be there.

At Birmingham City Council we have been embedding this approach to Commercialism across our organisation and are harnessing the considerable assets and skills across the organisation to increase the contribution generated from services in commercial markets.

We have made a good start, with over £200m commercial income (across diverse areas ranging from advertising to school meals to crematoria), contributing over £30m a year to the delivery of our budget – but we know we have some way to go to achieve our full potential. So how are we going about harnessing this potential:

Leadership

We’ve established a Commercialism Board, chaired by the cabinet member for commercialism, and attended by three cabinet members and four CLT members – this helps set the direction and ambition for the approach, keeps us on track with delivering the plan and identifies and unblocks barriers in our path.

Commercial discipline and ambition

Developing a profit and loss discipline in commercial business units, a ‘can do’ culture of business ambition and a drive to succeed and a commercial approach to investment decisions.

Recognising our strengths

As a local authority we have a number of strengths which we are seeking to maximise, for example:

• Established services – such as Cityserve, providing school meals to 70,000 children a day and with a revitalised and unique children centred approach and effective cost management has turned from a loss of £0.6m to a surplus of £2.5m and a string of national awards
• Physical assets – such as our world class parks, where we have developed a range of concessions, events and reviewed charges to increase income by over £0.5m (and rising) and improve the facilities on offer
• Access to capital – enabling the creation of a property investment company and more proactive management of our commercial estate to maximise return from our £30m income
• Influence and Relationships – utilising our unique relationships with a range of partners, including developing a commercial events company with The Birmingham Repertory Theatre to double our commercial return from events at the Library of Birmingham

Realising our future potential

Key to us fully realising our potential is the successful implementation of a Commercial Hub, which will harness the best commercial skills from across the organisation – service delivery and support services alike. This will not only ensure that our commercial services are benefitting from the best possible support – but also contribute to an environment of agility and success.

All of this will help us to achieve our goal of being able to maintain, sustain and invest in the services our citizens rely on us as a council to deliver.

Ken Lyon is the head of commercialism at Birmingham City Council. If you would like to know more about identifying commercial opportunities, Ken will be speaking about ‘Driving Value for Money’ at the Public Sector Show on 26th June, at ExCel London.

SIGN UP
For your free daily news bulletin
Highways jobs

Awake Night Support Worker - Acorn Villages - Mistley

Essex County Council
Up to £9.50 per hour
Essex County Council (ECC) are delighted to be supporting Acorn Villages to recruit Awake Night Support Workers for their supported living facility i England, Essex, Manningtree
Recuriter: Essex County Council

Assistant Contracts Manager

Derbyshire County Council
£29,184 to £32,389 - Plus market leading package (see below)
Derbyshire County Council are looking for an experienced Assistant Contract Manager Willington, Derbyshire
Recuriter: Derbyshire County Council

Safeguarding Children Partnership Manager

North Yorkshire County Council
£44,624 - £48,628 per annum pro rata
North Yorkshire Safeguarding Children Partnership (NYSCP) are seeking a Safeguarding Children Partnership Manager. Northallerton/Flexible/ Hybrid working
Recuriter: North Yorkshire County Council

HGV Mechanic

Derbyshire County Council
£23,657 - £25,568 per annum – plus market leading package (see below)
We are looking for a highly motivated Heavy Goods Vehicle Mechanic to join our County Transport team. Brimington, Chesterfield
Recuriter: Derbyshire County Council

Interim Director of Adult Social Services

Tile Hill
Negotiable day rate
We are currently supporting our local authority client in their search for an interim DASS South East England
Recuriter: Tile Hill

Partner Content

Circular highways is a necessity not an aspiration – and it’s within our grasp

Shell is helping power the journey towards a circular paving industry with Shell Bitumen LT R, a new product for roads that uses plastics destined for landfill as part of the additives to make the bitumen.

Support from Effective Energy Group for Local Authorities to Deliver £430m Sustainable Warmth Funded Energy Efficiency Projects

Effective Energy Group is now offering its support to the 40 Local Authorities who have received a share of the £430m to deliver their projects on the ground by surveying properties and installing measures.

Pay.UK – the next step in Bacs’ evolution

Dougie Belmore explains how one of the main interfaces between you and Bacs is about to change.