Shropshire Council backs plans to change services

Shropshire Council has approved plans to create a private company to run some services in a bid to make them more efficient and generate a profit.

More than 1,700 staff are expected to transfer to a new holding company by the end of the year.

A 90-day consultation is due to be held with staff and unions.

Council services such as catering, cleaning, facilities management, printing, finance, personnel, legal and IT are all expected to be affected.

The plans mean that the services could use extra capacity in staffing and staff time to bid for contracts from other public or private organisations.

The services involved control a combined budget of £36m, which would make the council-owned company one of the biggest employers in the county.

Keith Barrow, leader of the Conservative-led council, said the move would have "little effect" on staff or their terms of employment, including pensions.

Sell services

He added that the plan, believed to be the first of its kind in the country, followed recent changes to legislation which allowed local authorities to make a profit.

Mr Barrow said Shropshire would be well-placed to sell services to councils across the country, to police forces, fire services and other public bodies.

"I'm told we've got 20% capacity [in IT, personnel and finance], which we can now sell across different sectors and start making a profit.

"Like all things the ones who start first will be in a better position to benefit from it."

He added that any profit would be returned to the council, to spend on other services or projects, and would help to secure jobs.

After a full business case is put together the plans are due to be scrutinised by a cross-party group, before they return to cabinet.

The first staff are due to transfer to the holding company Inspiring Partnerships and Enterprise (IP&E) by the end of the year.

Other services could also follow in 2013.

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