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Public Finance/CIPFA Policy Briefing: Commercialism in Local Government

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Event summary

Commercialisation and the provision of public services are now inextricably linked. Within the current financial framework, the drive towards being more commercial brings challenges for public service leaders.

What do our decision makers understand commercialism to mean? And what examples are there of innovation as well as risks around a commercial approach?

This policy briefing will examine the relationship and attempt to understand both the benefits and the risks of a commercial approach to delivering public services in the 21st century.

Book your free place today

This event is sponsored by Zurich Municipal.


11 June 2019
Starts: 09:30
Ends: 14:00


Central Hall Westminster
Storey's Gate,
[See map]

Standard price

£0.00 excl VAT

*the event has started.

About this event

The Public Accounts Committee has been challenging on the role of commercialism and we will hear from Meg Hillier MP about the role of the Committee and what the Committee’s view is overall. 

Zurich MunicipalThe Chief Executive of Eastleigh Borough Council, Nick Tustian, will provide a case study on how their authority has successfully undertaken a commercial approach whilst managing the risks involved.

Paul O'Brien, from the Association of Public Sector Excellence, will outline how public services can be improved using a commercial approach while warning of the risks involved.

Following this, Alix Bedford from Zurich Municipal will lay out the possible risks that property investment can bring – while also demonstrating how effective management can translate these risks in to positives. 

Ensure you book your FREE place today as places are limited.

Why attend?

  • Gain insight into the approach to, and understanding of, commercialism from leading political figures and senior figures from the public and commercial sectors
  • Get an understanding of the challenges and risks associated with commercialism
  • Explore innovative ways of raising funds – while minimising undue risk to public funds. 
  • Ensure a robust approach to financial management and purchasing with strong legal advice and safeguards
  • Understand how effective decision-making is based upon robust financial information and analysis
  • Hear case studies direct from those who have implemented successful commercial approaches in their local authorities  
  • Network with colleagues from across local government and beyond and share best practice 

Who should attend?

  • Key decision makers in local government including:
    • chief executives
    • chief finance officers
    • councillors including leaders, cabinet members and audit committees members
    • all those interested, or involved in, commercialism, income generation and managing public money
  • Estates/property/development directors and heads in local government
  • Public policy institutes.

Read more

Please note this is a sponsored event, please see terms and conditions for further information.


  • Capital finance
  • / Commercialisation
  • / Efficiency
  • / Housing
  • / Local government
  • / Risk management
  • / Value for money

Speaker - Meg Hillier MP

Meg Hillier

Meg Hillier is the member of Parliament for Hackney South and Shoreditch and chair of the Public Accounts Committee. First elected in 2005, Meg has been a junior home office minister and shadow secretary of state for energy and climate change. Meg is also co-chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Global Health and vice-chair of the Cycling All Party Parliamentary Group, as well as being a trustee of the charity War Memorials Trust. Before entering Parliament, Meg represented Hackney, Islington and Waltham Forest on the London Assembly, was a local councillor for eight years, and was the youngest ever Mayor of Islington in 1998/99.

Speaker - Melanie Dawes

Melanie Dawes

Melanie Dawes took up her role as Permanent Secretary for DCLG on 1 March 2015. She continued this role for the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government from 8 January 2018. She is also gender champion for the Civil Service and sits on the Civil Service Board and Senior Leadership Committee. Melanie was Director General of the Economic and Domestic Affairs Secretariat (EDS) at the Cabinet Office from October 2011, responsible for overseeing the system of Cabinet decision-making. Between 2006 and 2011 she was at HMRC, including as one of the department’s Commissioners. She was Director General for Business Tax from November 2007, which involved responsibility for all the business taxes and duties as well as leadership of the department’s relationships with big business. From 2009, she also led the development of HMRC’s overall strategy as a department. Before joining HMRC, Melanie spent 15 years at the Treasury, including as Europe Director from 2002 to 2006. She started her career as an economist and has worked on public spending, tax and tax credit policy, macroeconomics, monetary policy and the euro.

Speaker - Paul O'Brien

Paul O'Brien

Paul O’Brien is the Chief Executive of the Association for Public Service Excellence (APSE). Based in Manchester APSE has 250 local authorities in membership. Paul is currently on the MHCLG working party writing the National Litter Strategy for England. He is also a member of the MHCLG Parks Action Group. He was the independent facilitator of the Northern Ireland Local Government Reform Joint Forum. He has represented APSE on the Scottish Executive Health and Physical Activity Council, the Office of the Deputy Prime Ministers, Strategic Partnership Taskforce, Trading and Charging working party and the Local Government Procurement Forum. Paul was named in the LGC magazines 100 most influential in local government. He is a columnist with the MJ magazine and regular contributor to numerous local government publications. He was also a board member on the partnership which delivered the ODPM’s National Councillor Mentoring Programme. Paul was previously APSE’s Principal Advisor (Scotland), and has over 30 year’s experience in local government. He is a Fellow with the Royal Society of the Arts. He completed an MBA at Glasgow Caledonian University.

Speaker - Nick Tustian

Nick Tustian

Nick has worked in the public sector since leaving school in 1974. Starting at Cherwell District Council his career path has taken him to Wycombe District Council, States of Jersey and Southampton City before joining Eastleigh Borough Council in 2000 as chief financial officer.

Much of his work has focused on delivering the council’s ambitious regeneration plans which has included developing a commercial approach to property acquisitions. The strategy, developed in 2008, has seen the purchase of property assets now valued at over £200m including the purchase of the Ageas Bowl County Cricket Ground where the council has invested £45m in the building of a new 4* Hilton Hotel and Conference Centre.

He was appointed to his current role as Chief Executive in December 2013. The council has completely changed the way it delivers its services. The traditional management/staffing structure has been transformed into one built around case management and customer enabling. This includes continuing to become more commercial and innovative in terms of income generation and cost control.

The council has an ambitious housing target of delivering 16,000 new homes in the Borough over the next 20 years. Nick is leading the development of its housing delivery programme which is seeing the council intervening in the housing market and working pro-actively with developers, land owners etc to bring forward new and existing sites to accelerate delivery of housing in the Borough. He can often be found at various conferences up and down the country speaking about Eastleigh’s approach to property investment and housing delivery.