Decision Maker: Cabinet
Decision status: For Determination
Is Key decision?: No
Is subject to call in?: Yes
Councillor Janette Williamson, Cabinet Member Finance and Resources, said:
“Wirral Council, together with the majority of Labour councils, particularly in the North, is
facing a hugely challenging financial future. The combination of sustained austerity, with
reducing central government grant (ending in 2020/21), and increasing financial demands, is making us address questions about the long term sustainability of all services arranged by the Council. If we are to continue to meet the demands of our residents in service areas such as children’s and adult social care, we must increase the revenue coming into the Council through becoming more commercial. Our commercial strategy will enable us to cope with the challenges of austerity and deliver the high quality services that are vital to our residents. This is about being more business minded in order to continue to serve the needs of Wirral residents.
Commercial activity is not new to us. Wirral currently operates commercial services in a
range of diverse sectors including leisure, theatre events, car park charging, garden waste and services to schools directly from the Council. What has been needed is a coordinated approach across the Council looking within for the expertise to drive this forward.
This Commercial Strategy aims to take a commercial approach to service design, management and decisions, encouraging innovation whilst optimising assets and services to exploit opportunities to generate income surplus for reinvestment and reduce costs. An important element of the Commercial approach is finding the right balance between our public sector ethos and delivering social value and our commercial practices, ensuring we meet our pledges, to improve the lives of Wirral residents supporting local businesses, as well as increasing income and opportunity”.
Councillor Janette Williamson introduced a report by the Lead on Commercial Approach and the Assistant Director – Commercial Management that informed that Wirral’s Medium Term Financial Strategy 2019-20-2022/23 (MTFS) focus was on building the foundations for a sustainable financial future with sufficient support for services and described how to provide the funding and services so that residents received the support for their lives and communities.
The Cabinet noted that a key approach in the MTFS was to increase income for the Council. To deliver this increase in income and become more commercial required a fundamental change in how the Council did business.
The Commercial Strategy was one element of this change. The Council’s approach to becoming more commercial was not about simply charging more for its services, it was not about becoming purely profit driven, it was about becoming more business-like and so more able to take advantage of commercial opportunities which would benefit the borough, and its residents.
Appended to the report was:
· Appendix 1 – Commercial Strategy
· Appendix 2 – Report of the Business Overview and Scrutiny Committee (Aug 2018)
The Cabinet noted that the Council continued to progress a range of measures including recommissioning, contractual negotiation and service re-design to develop its approach to the medium term budgetary pressures it faced. This was in order to maintain a financially sustainable future and meet the pledges outlined in the Wirral Plan. One of the principles was the Commercial Strategy. As such this was therefore, one of a number of options being developed to respond to the Council’s financial challenges.
Councillor Janette Williamson thanked the Assistant Director – Commercial Management for her excellent work in leading on the Commercial Strategy.
Councillor Phil Davies also thanked the Assistant Director – Commercial Management for the work she had undertaken on the Commercial Strategy along with the officer team that had been supporting her. He informed that the building blocks had been put in place to deliver sustainable services going forward.
(1) the Wirral Council Commercial Strategy contained at Appendix 1 of the report be approved; and
(2) the recommendations of the Business Overview and Scrutiny Committee held on 18 September 2018 be endorsed: That
(1) to acknowledge the importance of Wirral’s commercial approach moving forward, it was recommended that Member development should also include commercialisation training;
(2) the Business Overview and Scrutiny Committee should receive presentations by the Investment and Change Board and the New Commercial Ideas Panel as part of its work programme to understand how they operate and to scrutinise their effectiveness; and
(3) the Business Overview and Scrutiny Committee should receive quarterly reports detailing the progress made to deliver the Council’s Commercial Strategy. This should include reporting on income received under its remit and details of whether targets have been met or not.
Publication date: 29/11/2018
Date of decision: 26/11/2018
Decided at meeting: 26/11/2018 - Cabinet
Effective from: 07/12/2018