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Tuesday 21 July 2015

Council set to create innovative new company to boost skills and jobs


Cheshire East Council is set to create another innovative new ‘arms-length’ company to boost skills in the Borough’s workforce and help businesses and productivity grow.

A full review of the Council’s skills and growth services is to be completed with a view to potentially creating a wholly-owned company that would improve services to residents and businesses, grow income and productivity and reinvest profits – providing more for less to local residents. 

The Council has already successfully launched several wholly-owned arms-length companies. These are Council-owned and controlled – and continue to put residents first.

They are free to operate in different ways that will mean we, as a Council, can deliver more for less and achieve greater innovation and entrepreneurialism for the benefit of residents.

Councillor Don Stockton, Cabinet member for regeneration and assets, said: “By bringing employers closer to training and skills providers at a local level we can realise economies of scale, address skills shortages and develop employment opportunities, ensuring every resident has the opportunity to work, and every business has the opportunity to thrive.” 

A report by Caroline Simpson, executive director of economic growth and prosperity, which was backed by Cabinet today (July 21), highlights that the government spends £100m on skills in Cheshire East every year but only one per cent is channelled through the Council.

Although the Borough has a highly-skilled workforce and low unemployment overall, there are pockets of deprivation where action is needed to tackle long-term unemployment and increase productivity of firms.

The report says a Council-owned company would make the labour market function better, maximise growth in high-value employment and get more residents into work, reducing long-term unemployment and Neets (people not in employment, education or training).

Cabinet today (July 21) called for a business case and recommended options to be drawn up by August, with a view to making any necessary changes by January 1, 2016.

The review will take in six core services with a combined budget of £4.5m, whose work covers:

● Skills, training and advisory services (such as youth advisory service, youth offending teams, Neets, lifelong learning, 14+ skills, adult educational needs);

● Employment services (such as apprenticeships, placements and links with national and local delivery partners like Jobcentre Plus and Total People;

● Business growth (such as business engagement, inward investment, high-growth business, business rates, strategic employment sites) and links with chambers of commerce and local business groups/networks, developers and investors;

● High-growth programmes (such as science, energy and technology).

The Council’s other wholly-owned arms-length companies, which seek to deliver a ‘best fit’ approach are: Tatton Enterprises Ltd; Engine of the North; Orbitas bereavement services; Ansa environmental services; Transport Service Solutions Ltd; CoSocius joint council services for ICT, human resources and financial services. Everybody Sport and Leisure Trust was also created by the Council as a charitable trust set up to deliver leisure services in Cheshire East.

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