New chief is ready to do business

By Ian Dipple Friday 09 May 2014 Updated: 09/05 11:36

A COMMERCIAL approach is needed to ensure Worcestershire County Council can meet future challenges according to the authority’s new chief executive.

But Clare Marchant, who takes up the post from June 1, said that did not mean the social value of services would be lost or ignored.

During a question and answer session with the council’s Overview and Scrutiny Performance Board, Ms Marchant set out her priorities for the council.

They include ensuring the economy is relevant to residents of all ages, the council taking on a bigger leadership role, listening more to residents, improving the council’s and the county’s reputation nationally and being more robust as an organisation.

She said there were lessons they could learn from the private sector while at the same time remembering they were not a commercial organisation.

“When I talk about being more commercial it’s about being more effective in the use of the taxpayers’ pound, it’s instilling that culture of using taxpayers money to best effect in our staff base.”

She later added: “Linked with that is our role in improving social value. There are different ways of interpreting social value but we can build it into contracts as we move forward.”

Part of the transformation the council is going through as it bids to save £25million a year up until 2017/18 is to use private companies, community groups and other public sector organisations to provide services rather than operate them in-house.

However the move has led to accusations of profits being put before people and services being farmed out to those offering the cheapest deal.

Ms Marchant said there would be a role for the council in understanding how those profits would be spent when signing contracts with providers, but added: “As soon as you say you don’t expect any organisation to make a profit you put those services at risk so it’s about that balance.

“I do believe there are unreasonable levels of profit and we would have to look at that.”

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