Essex County Council-run businesses put £28m of turnover back into public services

Chelmsford Views.
County Hall (Market Street)

Chelmsford Views. County Hall (Market Street) - Credit: Lucy taylor

Commercially trading services run by Essex County Council have a combined turnover of more than £28million it has been revealed.

County Hall has been celebrating its success – and some of the secrets behind it – as part of Global Entrepreneurship Week.

The income generated by the services, which range from education to legal work, help to close the funding gap caused by government cuts and inflation and aid delivery of front-line services in Essex.

Derrick Louis, county councillor for corporate services, said: “We are very proud of the fact Essex is home to world-class business and innovation. By commercialising the council’s own services we are giving further support to our local economy.

“It’s working because we are overlaying traditional public sector values of passion and dedication with commercial acumen. Essex tax payers benefit because the profits go into delivering local services.”

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Services have been developed by the county council as part of a “business incubator” approach it created almost two years’ ago to nurture services with the potential to become trading businesses.

Those developed include:

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• EES for Schools – works with one-quarter of schools in England to provide software, training and advice. It has a turnover of £13m.

• Essex Legal Services – one of the largest public sector law practices in the UK, employing more than 100 fee-earning staff. It has a turnover of £10m.

• Essex Outdoors – runs four outdoor activity centres and an indoor climbing wall, works with schools in Essex and the wider region. It delivers a turnover of £3.4m.

• Place Services – a one-stop environmental consultancy with a turnover of £1.9m.

Keir Lynch, executive director for traded services, added: “During Global Entrepreneurship Week it is particularly important to celebrate our innovative and exciting approach to trading services and recognise the achievements of our staff working hard to deliver such great results.

“By investing in our business incubator programme we understand where we can develop and grow services and add value to the work the council delivers to the benefit of local residents, customers and the business community.”

The business incubator works by identifying service areas with potential for commercialisation, and then training the teams in sales and marketing, management, HR and financial management.

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