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Shropshire selects legal services in first wave of spin-outs to trading company

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Shropshire Council has selected legal services as one of four areas for a first wave of spin-outs to a new council-owned trading company.

Business cases for a transfer to the company will also be developed for the local authority’s Shire Services (catering, cleaning and facilities management), Shared Support Services (finance, personnel and IT) and print services teams. Between them, the four areas employ more than 1,700 staff and spend £36m a year.

This work will be progressed together with any services ready to be brought forward as staff-led spin-outs.

The move follows a full council meeting on 3 May 2012 which agreed a new strategic commissioning framework for all council services and the creation of the wholly-owned trading company, which will act as an umbrella delivery vehicle for a range of service provision.

In addition to selecting the first wave of possible spin-outs, the Cabinet this week agreed to proceed with the incorporation of the company. The business will be called ip&e (group) limited, standing for ‘inspiring partnerships and enterprise’.

For the purpose of incorporation, the sole director of the new company is to be the Leader of the council. Further directors are expected to be appointed at a later date.

A detailed paper on the legal and governance arrangements for ip&e was prepared for the meeting. The Cabinet also approved an outline implementation and risk management plan for the initiatives.

Shropshire said ip&e was being developed “to provide innovative new approaches, at a time of large reductions to public sector spending, to maintain both the range and quality of the services the council provides to improve the quality of life of local people, as well as to protect and grow local jobs”.

The council said the plans would be considered by its performance and strategy scrutiny committee before returning to the Cabinet.

Final decisions on the first wave of spin-outs are set to be made later in the year, when the second block of services to be transferred in 2013 will also be identified.

The framework of the council’s new strategic commissioning framework is being developed in parallel.

Shropshire said staff working in the four areas had already been informed about how the changes might affect them. A statutory consultation will also take place.

Keith Barrow, Leader of Shropshire Council, said: “This report allows us to get on with implementing the decision made by council a month ago.  We can now start putting the right structures in place so we can move forward as quickly as we can.

“As these are such ground breaking proposals for Shropshire, it’s important that the report goes for full discussion at scrutiny as well as in Cabinet.  This is a great opportunity for our staff and we need to talk to them about the exciting opportunities that will be presented by the new company, and involve them fully in creating it and making it successful.”

The report and appendices for the Cabinet meeting can be viewed here

Philip Hoult