A vast array of public services are managed and co-ordinated at a local level, with the overall decisions on how these services are run being made by councillors or appointed boards.
Continued public demand for quality local services, combined with budgetary requirements to deliver them more efficiently, means that authorities are increasingly looking to the private and voluntary sectors to partner with them. At Cratus, we support our clients in this area by aligning their expertise with the priorities and politics of local decision-making.
From bin collections to the management of car parks, the services provided by local authorities are used by residents and businesses each and every day. In recent years, councils have faced the challenging prospect of responding to increased public demand for quality and level of service, whilst also facing significant reductions in funding. Couple this with limitations on council tax rises, and local authorities have had to find new ways of delivering public services. The same applies to any other agencies tasked with running public services – from clinical commissioning groups to the local constabulary – all have to deliver the best services at a local level, and with the resources available to them.
Working in partnership with the private and voluntary sector provides immense opportunities for public bodies to run services more efficiently and secure much-needed investment. This needs to be balanced with the need for services to still be accountable to the public, through local politicians and appointed boards, and it’s important for councillors and other appointed officials to demonstrate the benefits that arise from such an approach.
Cratus supports many companies who wish to penetrate the local public services market to help services run more efficiently and effectively. From senior councillors to the local community, we help our clients tailor their message to the audiences they need to engage with, thus creating a dialogue on how a service could be commissioned.
Often, this takes place in parallel to a formal procurement process; we help the client demonstrate the added value their proposal would bring alongside any technical assessment that takes place. We also help clients explore alternative models of service delivery, such as joint ventures and special delivery vehicles. These may help leading councillors move swiftly to a position where they can start delivering more efficient and effective services in partnership with our clients.
A crucial part of this process is convincing the decision-makers that entering such a service contract or partnership will deliver tangible improvements and reputational benefits, whilst safeguarding their ability to respond to changing priorities over the lifetime of such a contract. There is a need to provide a clear, long-term strategy for how a service would be delivered. This allows the contractor to commit to an investment in the future of the service, which would not be so easily afforded if the process remained in-house.
Every situation is different – even for the same client in different local areas. We treat each local situation on behalf of our clients as a separate project, with a bespoke strategy for political/board engagement and for securing an effective dialogue.
Cratus has had some particular success in the area of supporting clients to demonstrate the added value they would bring to a partnership. We would encourage any company with an interest in running local public services to get in touch with us.