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Show me the money

by on November 27, 2009

We may not know who will be sitting where in Parliament and we may not know who will be King or Queen of the jungle, but there’s one thing we can be sure of – next year will be tough.
I’m fairly sure most of you will agree that there will be a lot to achieve and less money to do it with. I’m equally sure that we will not be immune.
Fortunately, through incredibly insightful management, we’ve already reduced our I.T costs and become greener with it. However, if we are to continue delivering to the level we’ve become accustomed, we expect we’ll need to top up the kitty.
At the moment, we raise funds in two ways: firstly, by delivering services for other bits of Government – good work but not a lot of profit in it! Secondly, we sell site location maps to planning applicants. This provides useful revenue either directly or by commissions from other suppliers with every penny going back into service development, however, we’d like more.
We have some ideas, but before sharing them with the world, I thought I’d ask you dear readers for your views.
The question is a simple one: what do you think the Portal could and should do to generate revenue?
If we get some good ideas, I’ll pop them in a poll and let you vote on them.
Over to you.

  1. John permalink

    Dear Chris

    I think you should charge for all your services.

    I say this as someone who has worked in and around local government planning departments for the last 15 years, and has even on one occasion applied for (and been granted!) planning permission.

    The portal exists to simplify and speed up the planning process for both the applicants and for the planning departments. It should (does?) save the public and government users time and money, a portion of which they might (should?) be prepared to invest in paying for this quicker, cheaper service. (‘Invest to save’ – how many people out there have heard this before?)

    The portal is not alone in doing this. There are many commercial companies out there, planning consultants and IT suppliers, whose business models are similar ‘invest to save’ models – they charge local authorities to provide consultancy services or IT systems to make the planning process more efficient (i.e. cheaper).

    You should start charging for your services. If your services are good value (admittedly I’m on the fence here! having both good and bad experiences with the portal, but also with IT suppliers and with consultants) then you will get more and more business. At the very least the public and government users of these systems could decide who offers the best value for money.

    Just a thought.


  2. Tom permalink

    Allowing Consultants to advertise on the General Public section of the Portal? Charging the General Public for the Permitted Development information on the Portal?

  3. Zaheer Mirza permalink

    Chris, my idea is a bit off-the-wall I am afraid! Consider as context the current debate on strategies to cope with expected increase in demand for elderly housing. The solutions tend to address the symptoms rather than the root cause. Assuming many elderly have next of kin – how can they be incentivised to play a positive role in the solution? Currently there is no financial encouragement for the children or nephews/neices to step forward and be part of the solution. I think the planning portal needs to evolve to give us, the public, a volice/channel to suggest win:win:win solutions for us, the elderly concerned and the govt (i.e., making it financially neutral or attractive for family members to look after their elderly whilst preserving privacy/independence of both parties). The revenue opportunity is driven by the potential gain share of the savings govt would make vs their projected costs otherwise. The issue is that such soutions need big picture thinking across the various govt functional silos – attractive loans, ease of making reqd property mods, help for the carer, relief for the carer, etc. The generation of pragmatic deas will not come from a govt silo – but rather people who, despite positive intent, are being forced to send their elderly to care homes. There are a number of spin-off benefits like creation of family values amongst the next generation when one parent stays home to look after the children and the elderly. The planning portal has the potential to address such complex issues requiring cross-functional solutions sourced from the public close to the issue. The cost savings for the govt are phenomenal, whilst also addressing some related big social issues.

Please give us your feedback but we won’t publish any comments that are not constructive or that criticise any individual, any named business or any local authority. Please note, all comments will be moderated before being published.

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