A quick guide to taking on new council services

  • From libraries to public toilets to grass cutting – town, parish and community councils are being asked to take on an increasing number of services, or risk losing them for good
  • Managing a new service can present additional challenges, and new risks and insurance considerations
  • Our checklist is designed to help your council consider some of the key challenges ahead

As larger authorities look to tighten their belts, there is a good chance that your town, parish or community council will be asked to take over at least one of its services, or risk your community losing it forever.

While you will understandably be keen to protect as many services as possible, it is vital that before you agree to take on any new assets, you fully consider the risks.

From employing additional staff, to becoming responsible for an asset you haven’t dealt with before, taking over services can present a range of new risks and insurance considerations.

We look at five of the top things your council should be thinking about before taking on any new service.

  1. Understanding the service
    • How much does the service cost to run currently?
    • What is the level of demand for the service?
    • What is the projected demand for the years ahead?
    • What are the public’s expectations regarding the service?
    • Who are the principal service users?
  2. Budgeting
    • Have you factored in the full range of revenue costs, including administration/insurance etc?
    • Will there be any significant one-off or regular capital expenditures (buildings, equipment etc)?
    • How will you fund the service?
    • Will you have to increase your precept, and if so, by how much?
    • Have you conducted any research to find out whether people would prefer to increase the precept, or charge for the service being offered?
  3. Staffing/Resources
    • Will you be taking on additional staff?
    • If so, do you have employers’ liability insurance in place, as staff changes could potentially mean an increase in insurance premiums? It is important that you speak with your account handler when planning a new service
    • Will new/existing staff require any additional training?
    • Who will provide this training?
    • Have you checked that any third-party contractors you are considering using have the appropriate insurance in place?
  4. Communications
    • Who will be responsible for communicating information to service users?
    • What channels of communication will you use – e.g. newsletters, e-bulletins, websites and social media accounts?
    • Are your proposed communication channels appropriate for the service-user demographic?
    • Who will monitor/respond to service-user feedback/complaints?
  5. Risk/Insurance
    • Will you be responsible for any significant new assets (buildings/equipment etc)?
    • Have you considered the full range of potential risks involved in taking on additional assets – e.g. fire/theft/flood/accidental damage etc?
    • Have you discussed your plans with your insurer?
    • Are you aware of all relevant information you should be sharing with your insurer?