Recently I attended a showcase of two companies wholly owned by Bristol City Council; Bristol Waste and Bristol Energy.
Bristol Waste came into being approximately a year ago, when the contract with the city’s previous, private, waste provider was ended. Bristol Waste will have become known to many of you as it’s taken up the mantle of collecting and disposing of the city’s waste.
Perhaps less well known is Bristol Energy, but its services should be familiar; it is a gas and electricity company for domestic and business customers. But it’s an energy company with a difference. At its heart is fairness, transparency and social good. It offers a tariff that is cost-effective and straightforward, it holds good customer service as a key aim, and its profits will always go back into the community here in Bristol. What’s more, they’re currently running a scheme whereby if you use the code CARING001 when you switch, they will donate £30 to the great charity Caring in Bristol. You can visit their website here: https://bristol-energy.co.uk/ and view the slides they presented to the showcase here: https://bristol-energy.co.uk/our-2016-company-showcase
But what is the financial implication to the city of creating these two companies? As you would expect, a fair amount of capital is required. For Bristol Waste, this would be money the Council would be spending anyway, but with the Council-owned company it’s being put to better use and is delivering a better result for citizens. It also means that we have much more control over where taxpayers’ money is being spent. Furthermore, the revenue gained from recycling goes back into the company (and thus the city), and there is the possibility of generating further revenue by taking on commercial waste collection contracts.
For Bristol Energy, the company already has around 10,000 customers and counting, from locations as diverse as Aberdeen and Blackpool (in addition to Bristol itself of course!). This will mean that the company can soon turn a profit and become a revenue stream for the Council.
In these difficult financial times, it’s important that the Council finds new and innovative ways to balance its books. Cuts, handed down to us by central government, are unfortunately inevitable. This Labour city administration is doing all it can to limit the effects on the city and those who live in it, especially those who are worse off and are more likely to be effected by the cuts.
If you’ve not seen it already, you can have a go at balancing Bristol’s budget yourself at the budget simulator here, and your results will feed into our formal proposals: https://bristol.budgetsimulator.com/
In my view, the more we can do to make money in these difficult financial times, then the better we can perform at protecting our most vulnerable citizens, continuing to provide the vital services the city needs, and preserving our precious environment. Therefore creating, using and promoting companies such as these is a great, innovative way of making our city’s money go further, creating the best outcomes for the city and its residents whilst keeping ethics and sustainability at the centre of everything we do.