Act as a united sector on commercialisation - or face regulations

By Abdool Kara | 13 September 2017
  • Abdool Kara

A key topic of the moment is commercialisation. Councils have for years carried out commercial activities, but their volume and nature have changed considerably recently, including significant investment in commercial revenue raising assets. This has largely been to raise income to compensate for the loss of grant, and thereby protect essential services. Given this laudable motivation, why the negativity?

We can discern two key concerns. First, as the majority of funding has come from the Public Works Loan Board (PWLB), this puts public money at risk. All investment is a risk to some extent, but levels of exposure depend on the expertise and due diligence supporting the decision. However, some councils are new to this agenda and may be less likely to seek the information needed to make a considered decision. There may even be a ‘following the herd’ element, not wanting to miss out on the ‘easy money’ bandwagon.

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