Salford and Liverpool city councils plan IT trading venture

Two councils in the North West have teamed up to sell technology and services commercially. Salford – home of MediaCityUK and the BBC’s Northern HQ – and Liverpool City Councils plan to establish a trading entity within the next 12-18 months to both compete against and collaborate with firms in the private sector. A third, Barnsley, may also join the venture.

By setting up as a commercial entity, they would end restrictions on working with the private sector and see the adoption of business plans and governance to ensure independence and accountability.

Setting up as a trading entity would also enable the new company to remunerate staff via a co-operative-style arrangement.

“Developing a trading organisation and getting more partners from the private sector will help us exploit commercial opportunities,” Salford City Council ITC assistant director David Hunter told The Register.

The collaboration is believed to be the first such trading entity covering technology and services. However, legal and welfare departments of other authorities have set up as trading entities to sell respective services, for example Kent County Council on legal and Buckinghamshire Council Council and the London Borough of Barnet on welfare and housing.

The move seems also to be driven by cuts in government funding forcing local authorities to find new ways of generating income.

The Salford and Liverpool plan follows 12 months’ collaboration that began with Liverpool looking for a partner to help on an ERP and financials projects, which saw the pair first share the price of a premium SAP engagement package. They share HANA licences while Salford has 10 SAP engineers on staff with plans to expand its team by four to also work on Liverpool systems. A Liverpool City budget planning system was built using IP from Salford.

The councils have worked on a range of digital transformation projects that have included online self-service for council workers and on budget planning.

The new entity will offer consulting services and technology in big data, infrastructure services and digital transformation.


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