Risk and commercialisation: Why scrutiny matters

By Paul O'Brien and Ed Hammond | 01 February 2019
  • Paul O'Brien

Commercialisation of council services is a term that has many meanings to many people and indeed many modes of operation; from simple use of local authority charging powers to full blown trading companies, or asset and investment strategies, that may stretch beyond the local authority's own boundaries. Whatever approach is adopted there is a degree of risk. So with that risk we argue the role of scrutiny is fundamentally important.

APSE recently published a new research report ' Risk and Commercialisation: A guide for local scrutiny councillors' with the Centre for Public Scrutiny. Interviewing both senior officers and scrutiny councillors we found that when councils approach commercialisation the role of scrutiny is often an afterthought - or worse still seen as something that will slow down the entrepreneurialism that enshrines commercialisation.  This creates a tension; all parties recognise the importance of commercialisation to council income in the face of ongoing austerity but equally due diligence, transparency and good governance must all be assured.

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