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Commercial Trends in Local Government

We have supported commercial development in local government for many years and it is interesting and useful to reflect on current trends across the sector. Whilst a lot of what councils are doing is a continuation of what has been developing over the last number of years, there are some specific trends we have noticed that are a response to one or more of: the impact of the pandemic, changes in government policy and reflection on what gaps still remain in a council’s commercial capability.


A renewed focus on culture
Developing a commercial culture has been a major part of transformation programmes for many years. However, there seems to be a renewed focus on it at the moment, with many councils commissioning us to support them on culture change programmes. Culture perhaps impacts on the implementation of commercial ideas more than anything else, so it probably is no surprise that it is now being looked at with renewed focus as the need to make commercial programmes deliver is greater now than at any other time. The reality is that many have ‘dabbled’ with commercial culture, but few have really committed to it in a way that creates measurable change and improved performance. That seems to be changing; the value of real culture change is recognised and the need to be intentional about culture in order to deliver is now a focus.

Mainstreaming ‘Commercial’

Linked to culture change is the work many councils are now doing to ensure their commercial programme is part of the mainstream running of the council and not a side event. This involves activities such as: ensuring commercial metrics are part of the performance dashboard and corporate KPIs, building commercial competencies into JDs and appraisals and ensuring commercial principles are built into the budget setting process and financial controls. Mainstreaming commercial gives it more traction, creates a strong cultural statement and allows commercial thinking to have a much wider sphere of influence across the council.

Focus on place

Changes to PWLB borrowing has helped to accelerate a renewed focus on place, not that council’s ever lost that focus, but sometimes the commercial programme wasn’t so explicitly focused on it. These changes encourage the commercial programme to become much more closely linked to the regeneration and housing programmes, looking for opportunities to shape places for local communities whilst also positioning the council to generate income and create a return. There are some great examples of creative approaches to place that are not only creating thriving communities, but also revenue for the council.

White Paper – Commercial Opportunities

We were recently commissioned to write a report on the latest commercial opportunities for councils. Our work involved extensive direct research with councils together with working with the 113 councils who are part of the £Billion Challenge who are sharing their latest thoughts and ideas on how to innovate to make and/or save money.

We have turned this report into a white paper that looks at over 35 opportunities broken down under the following headings:

  • Service based opportunities

  • Investments

  • Green energy

  • Housing

  • Governance

  • Other


Each opportunity is explained together with analysis of the key success factors of the opportunity and risk.

The value of it is £6,995 and we are making this white paper available for £495 + vat. Contact for more information.

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