Mindful Profit in the Public Sector

The public service sector such as local councils receive money through funding, by a combination of central government grants, Council Tax, Business Rates and fees for certain services it provides. A council’s overarching aim should be a force for helping local living standards and improve communities as a collective. And while local councils will not ‘go out of business’ by not generating revenue higher than their expenses, to ensure they can fulfil their commitments today, tomorrow, the next day and for many days to come, local authorities must make a profit. Each investment made should therefore be highly considered, to ensure the outcome is to maintain solvency, maximise goal output and ensure the higher purpose (best practice for communities) is achieved. Budget should be balanced and every spending decision is scrutinised by councillors, who represent the public interest, in separate service committee meetings. Additionally it is also important for councils to reserve a percentage of their revenue for contingency in times of unexpected events or emergencies, e.g. flooding, severe weather; wildfires; power or gas emergencies, and other crises such as the Coronavirus pandemic we are currently facing. The money in local councils is spent, made, and reinvested back into the community and local economy.   

My service in culture and leisure promotes tourism of the town through tourism marketing, planning, provision and encouragement. Tourism is an essential part of the overall economic mix within the borough, by investing in promoting and developing tourism, our council can attract and deliver value to businesses, students and workers, and visitors. Tourism is an essential key to economy, supporting thousands of local jobs and businesses and generating millions of pounds in visitor spending each year. Therefore helping the council to achieve its highest purpose.

Our service has some funding from council tax payments and it’s therefore essential we offer good value for money in return. Like all services within the council, it’s important that we spend our limited budget as effectively as possible, with our main objective to ensure there are secure jobs (over 8,000 of jobs locally are within the tourism sector). To support our service we sell advertising to local tourism businesses (attractions, accommodation and food providers) in our publications and our website, with members getting their own listing and features on social media. We make sure that any businesses who we work with are responsible, trusted and certified tourism or tourism related businesses. And while most of our income is generated through sold advertising space, it’s paramount to us that we charge our businesses fairly while covering our costs (e.g. for print and distribution) as much as possible. A successful ad campaign will encourage visitors to travel to attractions and local events, spending their money locally which therefore supports these businesses and increases the value of our service.

A large majority how we spend this budget goes towards marketing. We try and spend as much of that money in the local economy where possible for example, when purchasing print we will buy from a local supplier. The council has a list of ethical and local preferred suppliers we like to use where possible, spending in the local economy reinvests this money to help businesses and the community. Since the switch to a more digital era, there are times where we have to spend money nationally e.g. through Facebook/Google Advertising, but the effect of adverting, although not as great, will still reflect back locally.    

As well as customers, our member businesses are key stakeholders and the way we spend our budget can have a direct impact on them and the people they employ which is why it is important for us to identify how money can be spent most effectively to provide them with the most support. Through this support and promotion, our service helps to increase jobs and spend in the local economy all contributing to the borough council’s higher purpose – to build a thriving community. 

Mindful Profit in the Public Sector article by 
Olivia Lewis-Deane
Tourism and Events Marketing Apprentice
Maidstone Borough Council