When I was much younger I spent a wonderful autumn making some extra money through conkers. It wasn’t big business, but having a conker tree in the back garden meant I had a steady supply when many of my friends didn’t, so I swapped enough money for the odd trip to the tuck shop for some un-treated conkers of varying sizes. My friends could have gone and got some conkers themselves, or perhaps sourced an external supplier from another school, but my services were cost effective and efficient, I offered a guaranteed service and at the end of the day I shared my sweets with them, so everyone was a winner.
This delve into history came to mind today when I read news that Birmingham City Council’s legal services team have secured a major contract to supply 70 health trusts legal support at a cost of £8.8m. This has precipitated the development of two brand new divisions – LSB Law and LSB Law Conferencing – which will deliver this work and the training to complement it, a huge task in anyone’s estimation.
To my admittedly limited knowledge, this has to be one of the biggest examples this country has ever seen of a public sector service offered by one Council being sold to other public sector agencies. I have experience of internal consultancies, many of which prove very successful. Where a specialism exists which one single team has developed and which other teams need, it is not unusual for that team to charge a modest fee to make use of this service. Design, communications, consultation, audit, legal advice, training, research, print; all these and more are made use of in the internal marketplace (which we looked at ourselves some time ago). (more…)