Thursday, 24 May 2012

Transcending the obstacles for spin-outs

“The journey of a spin-out service is an interesting one and by no means one without obstacles.” So said Antonio Rizzo, Head of Library Services at Lewisham Council, spin-out veteran and speaker at the Transition Institute’s camp in Hull today.

The sun brought out the floral flocks and the folk of Hull to talk public sector reform and social value in our services. We were welcomed by the spin-out world’s pin-up boy, and our host, Andrew Burnell, CEO of City Health Care Partnership (CHCP) and board member of the Transition Institute. Andrew told us about the reality of being a community interest company, the need to be profitable as CHCP is, and, as he said, “What really makes you interesting isn’t being profitable but what you do with that profit.” He focused on why he uses the phrase ‘employee owned’ to describe CHCP. He explained that because each staff member owns shares and can invest in the company, he felt this enabled them to have a very clear sense of the value of their commitment that in turn ensures hard work makes the company better at delivering healthcare as well as becoming more profitable.

Andrew welcoming Hull's first Transition Institute camp
The focus of the event was to develop the thinking and debate around the Transition Institute’s latest piece of research, Transitioning out of the public sector: How to overcome your legal dilemmas, which will be further developed in collaboration with TPP Law whose Managing Director, Mark Johnson came in person to offer folk the chance to present their specific legal problems, which was a great opportunity for delegates. Mark has loads of experience and really believes in the ethos of organisations based on social value, which came out in his presentation.

As Kevin McDonnell, Assistant Director at PricewaterhouseCoopers' Corporate Finance practice, said about his experience in enabling new forms of public sector services, “These are huge change programmes, which challenge staff and the parent authority who both have to act differently."

During Kevin’s presentation, we got into a really fascinating and heated conversation between delegates about the capital bond that became part of the procurement process of Central Surrey Health, which was instrumental in its inability to even compete against Virgin Group’s Assura. My hope is we have seen an end to that sort of nonsense and more confidence from parent authorities to put a service out to tender without building such a hurdle into the process.

Antonio’s presentation on the radical changes to library services in Lewisham was inspiring. He had a wry smile when he took delegates through their journey, which, as he said, was made more interesting by the council stopping and reviewing the spin-out process at multiple junctions. Once the plan had finally been adopted, the figures were impressive with the unit cost of library services dropping to the lowest level in London and the council set to still save £60 million over the coming years.  So despite the journey being “treacherous” as Antonio described it, it was “fantastic and worthwhile too”, as working in partnership with the authority, staff, local businesses and community, they created a better more innovative service with a strong philosophy.

This was what our delegates had come to hear.


  1. Very cool. I always enjoy the interviews. Thanks for having this blog

  2. Very awesome. I always appreciate the discussions. Thanks for having this blog
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