In February, the Secretary of State announced details of the local government finance settlement. Whilst producing some extra funding to help address immediate pressures in adult social care and rural services, many in the sector are increasingly worried about the future beyond 2020.
Do nothing is not an option, as cost pressures from ageing populations, increasing demand for services and increasing wage bills continue to bite. Councils need to develop immediate strategies to secure financial stability and invest in improving services in the long-term – could accelerating the pace of developing commercial services with the public-sector be the answer?
There are some councils leading the way successfully creating revenue from delivering externally traded services or developing joint ventures; ‘Streetwise’ established by Rushcliffe Borough Council being a great example at the recent LGA awards. However, there is no ‘silver bullet’ and the route to developing the ‘Entrepreneurial Council’ is complex.
Agile decision making that balances the needs of operating in the commercial world, whilst ensuring the risk to public money is adequately governed is critical to success. Alongside this, building the appetite, skills and culture within the workforce to innovate and operate more commercially requires motivation, commitment and focus to achieve. Not forgetting the need to engage with local communities and businesses in the process – service excellence and a belief in ‘customer first’ is essential.
Through experience Caja has found that a valuable step for organisations, is to understand and review their entrepreneurial maturity and appetite. Assessing this maturity needs to be structured and based on a number of key domains ranging from vision and strategy, through capability, governance, innovation and risk, but ultimately to outcomes for local citizens and the balance sheet. Additionally, as proven in the most successful businesses, transformational leadership will be a critical behaviour to take the organisation to the next level.
The Caja Commercialisation quick self-assessment tool is based on 9 Domains of their model for the ‘Entrepreneurial Council’ and is available on-line at https://www.cajagroup.com/maturity-assessment-tool/