Commercial office

East Riding of Yorkshire Council aspires to be a more commercially focused and resilient council, where we will invest our resources responsibly in a wide range of commercial opportunities. We want to increase income and generate surpluses to be reinvested in supporting the council's corporate priorities.


manage costs and reinvest generated income
create a more enterprising culture and commercial approach, where appropriate, to generate and optimise income and to deliver improvement and efficiency
build replationships and work more closely with services to support their needs and achieve our goals
support the delivery of council business and financial plans

Commercial framework

What is commercialism?

Commercialism for the council means that we apply a commercial approach, where appropriate, to generate and maximise income and deliver improvement and efficiency, while retaining strong public service values. We'll change our approach to:

  • optimise how we charge for services
  • maximise how we trade
  • improve how we manage our assets
  • encourage and upskill our workforce to be entrepreneurial and innovative
  • seek to embrace commercial opportunities, strengthening the council's financial sustainability and supporting the local economy

Why we need to commercialise

After more than a decade of reduced budgets and spending cuts, we along with many local authorities, have realised that there is a need to adopt a more commercial mindset and approach. This is to make sure we can continue to provide quality services for our residents and local businesses.

We already offer some commercial services from within the council, such as:

  • waste management services for businesses
  • training to other councils and businesses
  • new homes, leisure facilities and visitor attractions
  • professional services such as print and design, to local businesses and organisations.

Our commercial services will also enhance the corporate strategies in place, such as our digital and agile projects and support the delivery of the council's business and financial plans.

Ventures are based around the services that the council does well and for which it possesses high levels of experience and expertise.

Key priorities

We have identified 5 key priorities that will enable us to build on our commercial offer to local businesses and organisations. These are:

Grow the commercial culture
Grow the commercial culture

With over 60 commercial services already operating in the council, a commercial culture has already been established to widen this culture within our organisation. We aim to provide our services and teams with the:

  • mindset to consider new approaches to service delivery, with a view to save money while still providing quality services
  • confidence to present new business opportunities
  • skills and tools to improve current commercial offers - building on what they already know and do well.

For those that have yet to be involved in providing a commercial service, this will be an opportunity for you to learn more and grow.

How we will do this

Before we can make recommendations, we need to understand what:

  • staff currently think about commercialism and how it can be incorporated into their service
  • commercial services are currently being offered and if they are successful
  • opportunities are available moving forward with regard to new or improved services.

We've already started working on this and in March, we sent out a skills survey to each directorate in turn, to capture your thoughts on the above points.

Also, we've been meeting with some teams either face-to-face or via Teams to:

  • listen to your ideas
  • discuss the current positive commercial activity you undertake
  • ask constructive questions to determine what could be changed.

We'll be working with other project teams such as digital and agile, to share best practice and develop a joined up approach.

Develop commercial skills
Develop commercial skills

We will design and develop a commercial learning package aligned to our commercial framework. This will allow you to:

  • develop an awareness and understanding of what commercialism is and what it means to the council
  • identify and explain the benefits of commercial activity
  • be entrepreneurial and innovative
  • build upon your knowledge, skills and experience
  • increase your confidence when working on commercial programmes or to help you generate and suggest ideas
  • develop new commercial services.
Commercial learning approach

The learning will be delivered in key stages via a mix of:

  • eLearning
  • face-to-face sessions
  • practical learning
  • collaborative group work.

Plus, there will be lots of resources available, including videos and podcasts, that you can also access in your own time.

Learning courses

The commercial learning courses we provide will cover the following topics:

  • Introduction to commercialism
  • Formulating commercial strategies
  • Finance for commercialism
  • Developing commercial ideas
  • Defining commercial opportunities
  • Producing commercial business plans.
How to book a course
Collaborative groups

A number of collaborative groups are being set up so that you can share your commercial ideas and work with others to improve and deliver them.

Commercial network

A network has already been set up. Being a part of this network you can:

  • receive regular updates on our commercial approaches
  • contribute to approaches and developments
  • discuss ideas and opportunities with others across the council so you can consider new ideas and how your service might benefit
  • learn more about regional and national developments.

If you'd like to become part of our commercial network, email the commercial team.

Commercial champions

We are building a community of commercial champions at the council. Being a champion enables you to:

  • gain a better understanding of the commercial needs of services and provide them with solutions
  • assist in the delivery of culture change
  • empower staff with new skills
  • exchange knowledge, share market insight and best practice
  • have an open forum to exchange ideas and thoughts with other champions.

As a champion you'll receive the necessary training to expand and share your knowledge, so you can shape change across the organisation.

If you'd like to become a champion or find out more about the role, email the commercial team.

Enhance commercial governance
Enhance commercial governance

Currently directorates that run income generating services are responsible for monitoring and reporting on their effectiveness. We aim to gain a holistic view of all income generating services so we can:

  • make sure they are well coordinated and operate successfully
  • understand what works well
  • consider whether the same approach could work for other services.
How we will assess commercial projects

We will review each project regularly against a governance framework. This is to make sure the project:

  • acts in the best interests of the organisation
  • improves our performance
  • is stable and productive
  • unlocks new, sustainable opportunities
  • reduces our exposure to risk
  • enables faster and safer growth
  • considers what is relevant for the local population and marketplace
  • recognises the impact on existing local businesses and the wider economy
  • improves our reputation and trust.

Our findings and any recommendations will be shared with the commercial board.

Optimise current income
Optimise current income

By working with our finance teams, we can help services monitor their income and offer advice and support, where required.

Protected business development time

We will be reviewing existing council income generating services, to identify any opportunities to improve them and generate extra financial returns, in line with our corporate values. This will include:

  • current operations
  • revised governance principles
  • renewed commercial awareness
  • skills and how they can be developed
  • a clear insight of our service costs.

Key to working with services is:

  • the need to have resource available within the teams
  • giving the resource dedicated time to develop ideas
  • to concentrate and support them on the commercially driven aspects.
Establish baseline costs

We will work with services to gain an accurate understanding of the costs to provide their commercial service by:

  • helping them to define their cost model
  • working closely with the finance team to provide accurate financial analysis.
Review service level agreements (SLAs)

It is essential to regularly review each contract and service level agreement (SLA), to make sure it:

  • is fit for purpose
  • offers value for money to customers
  • is priced fairly and in line with the local market.

We'll support services to review their service level agreement (SLA) and make sure:

  • it has everything that needs to be included
  • it will deliver the expected income targets
  • there is a structured approach to review the agreement before the end date.
Improving the commercial offer and target market

Many services already cross sell their products, but we can help them to explore other opportunities, such as:

  • expanding the product or service catalogue for extra opportunities to cross sell
  • creating upselling opportunities for products, for example having different levels of a service available
  • finding new customers who may be interested in their products.
Generate new income
Generate new income

Entering new markets will increase revenue to sustain our services. The council aims to be enterprising and creative so commercial growth can continue, and we can increase the provision of future services for residents and local business.

Profit and loss accounting and budgeting

Budgets are prepared in line with the council's strategies and goals, making sure that managers think about how every pound in the budget is spent. We seek to add value to this with a view to evolving the mindset towards managers considering how they can also earn every pound as well. This shift in focus:

  • promotes a better understanding of the service's income and expenditure
  • offers a more effective oversight of trading activity.
Identify new products and services

We are working with all directorates to identify and develop new products and services, considering market gaps, current trends and public needs. This will enable us to:

  • embrace new opportunities
  • strengthen our financial sustainability
  • adapt or deploy successful products or services to different teams.
Research new income generating prospects

We have an agreed work programme through the commercial board which includes new income generating proposals. We continue to work with service areas and carry out research externally, including with other local authorities, to be the catalyst for new prospects and to link opportunities together.

Explore new cross council opportunities

By developing the full picture of our council's commercial services, we are able to:

  • make links across directorates
  • establish working relationships that create mutual trust and sustainable trading opportunities
  • identify successful commercial services we offer that could be rolled out internally, to other councils and public bodies.

Our commercial approach

The new approach relates to our commercialism framework and is linked to the 4 key themes below.

Multifaceted approach

Commercialisation could take many forms and may involve outsourcing some of our services to be run by or in partnership with separate businesses.

Cultural commercialism

Our culture must evolve to include more enterprising behaviours and skills if we are to succeed. This shift does not take place overnight and people will be supported on their journey and communicated with. The role of training is central to cultural change.

Value based

Looking at commercial projects through the eyes of our residents to consider our role in the community and with our internal and external customers. It's important to make sure our projects offer non-financial value to people and communities within the East Riding, not just generate revenue for the council.

Clear sightedness

By applying the commercial framework and working towards achieving corporate priorities and strategic plans, we strive to align the business portfolio with this strategy, to focus effort on opportunities right for the council.

Our approach in practice

Our overall approach can be summarised as:

Review fees and charges

Pricing structure review through co-working, to make sure we deliver value to the public but with an increased financial advantage.

Changes in fees may require research, to explore value and fairness, together with research from other councils on new initiatives, where pricing mechanisms have already been successful, providing satisfaction and financial return.

Manage income and expenditure

The focus will be on offering the best service possible, which may involve reviewing and reducing existing costs.

We seek to instill a renewed awareness among our staff of the growing need to generate income from the existing services we provide.

Maximise assets and services

Using our staff in the right way, giving them access to the training and resources they need, along with monitoring usage levels of our buildings and equipment assets, so we can target:

  • inefficiency of redundant or partly used assets
  • building use and occupancy.

Commercialism news

Commercialism journey plan

The video covers:

  • our direction of travel and approach
  • the energise, optimise and maximise stages of our journey
  • the nature and speed of our journey
  • structure of the commercial office and where it sits within the organisation
  • training opportunities for staff of all skill levels
  • mapping out new routes from initial ideas to full business case research and approval.
Team plan

To bring together the key elements of our vision, purpose and principles, as part of our plan we have generated some commercially focused values and behaviours that tie in with the council vision and values and a set of 16 commercial principles.

Take a look at our commercial team plan for an at a glance view of our 3 year plan up to 2024.

Share an idea

If you have an idea you'd like to share with us that you think would benefit your service or the council in anyway, complete our new idea online form.

Contact us

To find out more about our service or if you would just like to ask us a question about our plans or anything commercialism related you can email us.

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