South Somerset District Council to take a more commercial approach after new strategy approved

South Somerset District Council is to become a more commercial organisation after a new Commercial Strategy was approved at the Full Council meeting on 17th August.

The strategy sets out a new approach for the Council to grow its income, become more business-like and to help it focus on reaching its investment, regeneration and economic development objectives and grow into the future. 

Up until recently, the main source of funding for councils has been government grants. However, since 2010 all councils have seen a significant cut in their funding from Government, sustaining the biggest funding cuts of any part of the public sector. 

As well as finding significant efficiency savings, the Council is committed to protecting services as far as possible and meeting its ambitions to improve life in South Somerset by being more commercial in its approach and making investments that will deliver valuable income.

To help it get there, the Council is changing its policies, approach and reskilling staff. It will also be looking to employ a core team with the right skills, experience and commercial mind set, to select a wide range of investments to best meet the Council objectives. This will ensure that it is keeping pace with the commercial markets, generating more of its own income, future proofing itself against central Government cuts; and in doing so, continuing to deliver high quality services.

Leader of the Council, Councillor Ric Pallister said, "This is a big step for the Council and is all about protecting services and enabling us to continue to deliver on our ambitions for South Somerset in the context of massive cuts in funding from government. We recognise we need to bring in skills, expertise and advice from the commercial sector to help us be more commercial and that is what we have started to do. We will also ensure it is done in a way that is appropriate for a public body utilising public funding and that whilst being commercial, we keep a focus on our role of providing services to and meeting the needs of South Somerset communities."

Councillor Henry Hobhouse, Portfolio Holder for Income Generation added, "To raise the money required, it is important to work within a framework. The commercial strategy lays out the framework and puts the pieces in place to enable us to achieve what we are trying to do. I am therefore pleased that the strategy was agreed at Full Council and we can now work in a more commercial way to generate income."