Corporate, Finance

Surrey unveils plans for trading arm

Surrey County Council has unveiled plans to go into business in a bid to generate income that can be ploughed back into services.

The Cabinet is set to discuss launching a trading arm to charge other organisations for services provided by the council.

Under the proposals, all the cash made will be reinvested in improving frontline services, helping to plug the gap left by a dwindling government grant and keep a lid on future council tax rises.

Last week the council announced that £1.7 million made from a joint venture with a private firm was being reinvested in improving services.

The cash was generated as a dividend from Surrey’s involvement with Babcock 4S, which provides education support such as administration and grounds upkeep across the UK.

Surrey County Council leader David Hodge said: “The days of local government relying on Whitehall to provide funding for local services are behind us. Councils must look to themselves to find different and more innovative answers to providing better, more efficient services.

“We’re doing just that by taking a pragmatic view. It means finding the right approach for each service because what works for one might not be appropriate for another.

“That approach includes developing bold and innovative plans for a trading arm that would allow us to plough money generated back into providing high-quality services for local people. This would help us fill the gap left by a reducing government grant and keep any future council tax rises down.”

A report setting out the first steps towards creating the trading arm will be considered on Tuesday 26 March, alongside a paper on the council’s approach to innovation.

If the Cabinet approves the plans, opportunities for selling services, initially in areas such as IT and HR, will be explored further.

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