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August 2017
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Simpler rules regulating how councils buy goods and services after Brexit could boost local growth and create jobs, the Local Government Association says today.

Council leaders say the Government needs to introduce a more efficient UK system regulating how councils buy goods and services when we leave the European Union.

The LGA said this could include giving councils greater ability to use local suppliers, specify a minimum local living wage for their suppliers’ employees, or specify additional social value so that companies awarded contracts can be asked to employ or train a number of local people.

Councils currently have to follow EU-wide advertising and award procedures when they buy goods and services. The process sometimes sits uneasily with supporting the local economy. The EU process can also take between 3 and 18 months – twice as long as typical private sector procurements.

Almost no public contracts end up being awarded to companies in other EU member states. Only 20 per cent of English councils receive EU expressions of interest from companies based in other EU countries. Across Europe, only 1.6 per cent of public contracts are awarded to companies in other member states.

The LGA says a “lighter-touch” system which simplifies this processes, and provides more flexibilities to promote local growth, is vital so that councils can procure to shorter timescales and lower high administration costs for businesses, especially small and medium-sized enterprises.

Councils in England, who collectively spend £55 billion per year on goods, works and services, will also still need to be able to advertise any contract of any size EU-wide should they wish to after Brexit, it said.

Cllr Kevin Bentley, Chairman of the LGA’s Brexit Task and Finish Group, said:

“The UK’s exit from the EU will have a significant impact on local government, creating challenges that need to be addressed but also opportunities to do things differently.

“The way councils spend money has a huge bearing on local growth and job creation. But EU rules over how they buy goods and services can stifle those efforts and take up time and money.

“Regulation of public procurement will clearly continue to be necessary when we leave the EU to allow councils to continue to demonstrate best value for money and ensure effective and fair competition.

“But introducing more local flexibility and easier procurement rules after Brexit would provide more community benefits and more growth opportunities for SMEs. It would also allow councils to promote local suppliers and local labour and ensure workers earn a decent wage.”

New HSJ Partnership Awards will recognise inspirational architects and construction firms that are helping to transform the NHS

Awards will highlight the work of a variety of private sector organisations that partner with the NHS to deliver improved patient outcomes and cost-effective care

Architects and construction firms are invited to enter a new awards scheme designed to recognise private sector organisations that work behind the scenes to help the NHS deliver better and more cost-effective patient care.

The unique programme, which has categories for 19 different types of organisations, has been launched by Health Service Journal (HSJ), the premium intelligence and events service for all healthcare leaders working in, for, or with the NHS.

Known as the HSJ Partnership Awards, it will reward inspirational work carried out for the NHS by organisations including architects, builders, IT providers, pharma companies and medtech firms.

A vast range of joint working projects will be eligible for recognition, with projects ranging from the design or construction of a new hospital building, to new analytical data systems, to innovative support ensuring patient drug adherence.

Entrants must be able to demonstrate that their projects have made a tangible difference to the NHS by, for example, improving services, facilities or quality of life for patients, or saving money.

Alastair McLellan, Editor of HSJ, said: “Hundreds of organisations are working behind the scenes to help the NHS improve its services and facilities, and deliver better care for patients. Yet their contribution is often unseen.

“We hope to change that through the HSJ Partnership Awards, which will give companies the chance to showcase the innovative projects and long-term support programmes that are really making a difference to the NHS in these challenging economic times.”

Mark Orchard, Director of Finance at Poole Hospital NHS Foundation Trust and President of the Healthcare Financial Management Association, said: “The awards present a unique opportunity to acknowledge the NHS’ valued private sector partners, recognising talent, innovation and demonstrable improvement across the health service. The NHS operates in an economic environment that continues to challenge us in demonstrating the very best decision-making on behalf of patients, service users, taxpayers and the public.

“These awards give us the opportunity to recognise those private sector partners who make a significant contribution to the service that we all proudly support. I’d encourage all partners to take this opportunity to share innovation and achievement in order that we may both celebrate the very best practice, and also share that learning across the wider health service.”

For details on the individual categories and entry criteria, please log on to

Entries must be submitted by 13 October 2017, with the awards ceremony scheduled to take place at the Royal College of Physicians, London on 8 March 2018.

Half of local authorities across the UK are unprepared to deal with a cyber attack: PwC Research

76% of UK CEOs are concerned about cyber threats

76% of UK CEOs are concerned about cyber threats

Reporter: Stuart Littleford

Just over half (53%) of local authorities across the UK are prepared to deal with a cyber attack according to research by PwC.

While the latest PwC Global CEO survey found that 76% of UK CEOs are concerned about cyber threats, only 35% of local authority leaders are confident that their staff are well equipped to deal with cyber threats.  Demonstrating how real those threats are, almost all (97%) of UK CEOs surveyed say they are currently addressing cyber breaches affecting business information or critical systems.

PwC’s seventh annual survey, The Local State We’re In, polled the views of over 100 local authority Chief Executives, Finance Directors and elected Council Leaders across the UK. It found that local authorities perceived themselves vulnerable in the face of cyber attacks, particularly in the wake of the recent ransomware attack on the NHS.

And a parallel survey of 2,000 consumers asked about the performance of their local authority found that just 34% of respondents trusted their council to manage and share their data and information appropriately while there was a growing appetite for council services to be available online.

Financial uncertainty in the future

The research also surveyed councils’ confidence in their ability to maintain existing levels of local service delivery. While the majority of councils (68%) were confident about maintaining  service delivery over the next 12 months, a mere 16% believed they could make necessary cost savings while maintaining existing levels of services over the next five years.

The latest PwC survey highlights growing financial uncertainty across the UK’s local authority network. Half (54%) of the respondents believe some local authorities will get into serious financial difficulty in the next year, with 88% expect that to happen inside the next five years. Similarly, 49% believe some councils will fail to deliver essential services in the next year, rising to 83% in the next five years.

Commenting on the findings of the 2017 The Local State We’re In report, Jonathan House, PwC partner said: “The growing political and economic uncertainty and financial pressure felt by leaders paints a very challenging picture looking forward for local authorities.

“The Chancellor’s announcement in the 2017 Budget of an extra £2bn cash boost for social care was welcome. However the reality is that quick fixes will not be a substitute for the long-term solutions needed to address the financial pressures faced by local government.

“With council finances under pressure and social care dominating spending, councils will need to think radically with their partners about their future strategy and service models.”

Digital disruption in the sector

When it comes to councils embracing technology, there’s been a notable drop in confidence over the last 12 months. The number of leaders who believe that technology will help them better engage with communities and residents has jumped from 54% in 2016 to 83% in 2017. However, when it comes to delivery only, 61% of authorities are confident in their digital approach – down from 76% in 2016.

Most significantly, there has been a change in what councils believe digital can deliver for them – in 2016 80% of respondents felt technology would would enable them to reduce costs, however this has fallen to 58% in this year’s survey.

Barriers appearing for Health and Social care integration

The appetite for reform and the integration of health social care remains with 77% of leaders in UK believing it will have a positive impact on health outcomes – however barriers to this integration are becoming more apparent  with over half (54%) the leaders claiming that their council has not been fully engaged in the Sustainability and Transformation Plans (STP) process.

Devolution falls down the agenda

The so-called devolution revolution seems to be stalling – this has been a big feature of the survey over the last few years, however just 12% of council leaders now agree they will have more powers and responsibilities by 2020 – a significant fall from 33% who told us in May 2015, that they expected to have greater devolved powers by 2020.

However the with the new cohort of recently-elected Mayors, regional devolution may well rise up the agenda once again.

Public perceptions

PwC also surveyed over 2,000 members of the public to discover their views on their council’s performance, role and remit. Overall, there was a concern from the public around cyber threats with only 34% of respondents trusting their council to manage and share their data and information appropriately.

There is, however, public appetite to have more council services available online, particularly from those who already use digital services. Four in ten (44%) say they would like more online services overall, with a clear preference among younger people (56% of 18-34 year olds) compared to older generations (34% of 55+ years).

Public appetite for devolution remains, with only 18% agreeing or strongly agreeing that the current balance of power between central and local government is right and 43% agreeing or strongly agreeing that Ministers should have less power over local services and local government should have more power. However, only 21% of the public polled are confident that local councillors and officials are up to the job of having more powers and 29% agree that more directly elected Mayors should be introduced.

Commenting on the findings overall to GPSJ, Jonathan House, PwC partner said: “As councils look ahead to the future there will be new risks to manage, from the shift away from the uncertainties of grant funding, to an ever more demanding public. The recent ransomware attacks, and other high profile incidents impacting them show some of these challenges.

“However councils have proved before their resilience and ability to deal with any challenge they are faced with. The survey data suggest that Councils have taken cost out of their operations – now the challenge is to manage and grow their capabilities – to utilise technology as a force for growth and to deliver citizens’ expectations of a digital organisation.

As they look to the future, they will need to find new ways to innovate and invest in these drivers of growth and all  in the face of continued uncertainty.”

For more information please visit:

Public Sector Executives Countdown to 2020 … and the clock’s ticking

Mark Smith, CEO and Founder of Support Revolution

Mark Smith, CEO and Founder of Support Revolution

25 November 2015, is a memorable date for most Public Sector Executives, although not for the right reasons, writes Mark Smith, CEO of SAP and Oracle software support specialist Support Revolution.

Less than 18 months ago, the former Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, set out the Government’s spending plans up to 2019-20. The Spending Review outlined detailed cuts averaging 19% across unprotected government departments. The UK’s fiscal watchdog followed this up by predicting that one hundred thousand public sector jobs are likely to be shed during the period.

For every Public Sector Executive this was a bad day that signalled the beginning of what would be a very difficult five-year period. Budgets had to reduce by around one-fifth, jobs needed to be cut and the pressure to do more, with less, would never be greater.

Knowing where to start?

Buried within the detail and the resulting administration was an insistence that IT budgets were specifically targeted. However, public trust in Government IT to deliver a cost effective solution was low and had hit the headlines earlier in the year with reports detailing how The British Government ‘blew’ £2.5bn on IT projects flagged at ‘high risk of failure’ in 2014/15.

The ‘Universal Credit’ IT project was singled out as one of the most expensive IT projects flagged as ‘high risk’. The total lifetime cost of the project has increased by £3bn over the last two years to £15.85bn. Knowing where to start and what to cut was a daunting prospect for every Public Sector Executive.

Better sourced services

A key IT cost for the Public Sector is software support and maintenance from large ERP vendors such as Oracle and SAP. In 2013 alone, the UK Government spent approximately £290m on Oracle; a cost which is exacerbated by the fact there are so many versions of the software and various support levels and costs.

In 2015, The Cabinet Office became concerned with how much was being spent on these types of software and formally asked various agencies to look at alternatives to Oracle in a bid to slash public spending.

Support costs typically make-up 22% of a customer’s license costs for the first five years and can be significantly more once the product being supported is out of this period. This cost is a heavy burden which many Public Sector departments needlessly pay as ever more demanding day-to-day pressures reduce the time to research, source and implement better value long-term solutions that deliver the same day-to-day quality-of-work but with a significantly lower cost.

Third-party support providers exist to allow organisations who run Oracle and SAP services to receive best-in-class software support and maintenance from a team of experts and are able to ensure every customer can save at least 50% on support costs.

Another significant issue facing the Public Sector and impacting IT support budgets are software upgrade cycles.  Yet, the Public Sector purse has never faced tighter rein and regular updates to implement the latest version of each system are more unlikely today than at any other time. Third-party support is able to remove the organisation from that mandatory upgrade cycle and provide support for older versions of software that vendors no longer support.

Within an article by in August 2016, an unnamed Government insider said: “The spend controls sound a mess – there is more getting through but also arbitrary challenges. The problem is it sounds like those running the controls don’t have enough tech knowledge but are following tick lists, which is only further irritating departments.”

Only change what you understand

IT is more complex than ever before and understanding what to buy and what it’s worth are more confusing than they have previously been, especially within the Public Sector which is arguably one of the biggest and most complex IT infrastructures in the country.

This depth of complexity and scale of services lends itself towards ‘support’ arguably more than any other service offering as it is perhaps the simplest concept to understand and purchase.

The customer simply needs to record the systems they are running and ensure any service provider can provide support for the relevant systems, from a trained team with the relevant experience all of which are preferably based in the UK and security cleared, for an acceptable fee.

The simplicity of purchasing third-party support is perhaps its biggest weakness as many Executives imagine the appropriate level of support can only be purchased from the vendor and that external suppliers lack the understanding or insight to deliver a like-for-like service.

The Public Sector is changing faster than ever.  Budgets are being reduced, pressure to do more with less is increasing as headcount reduces. New thinking and new ways of working are needed and while the Public Sector analyses and responds to the new environment is has to operate within, moving support contracts to third-party providers offers a simple step to dramatically reduce cost, maintain service and keep things running while a new path forward is planned.

Lancashire Police appoint new Assistant Chief Constable

Terry Woods

Terry Woods

Lancashire Constabulary has today appointed a new Assistant Chief Constable.

Terry Woods, currently Chief Superintendent at Lancashire Constabulary will take over from ACC Mark Bates when he retires this summer.

The appointment of ACC Woods comes just a month after Sunita Gamblin, formally a Chief Superintendent at Derbyshire, was recruited to replace Deputy Chief Constable Andy Rhodes when he takes up the position of Chief Constable in June, creating a new Chief Officer group at Lancashire.

Terry Woods has worked at Lancashire Constabulary for 21 years, starting as a Constable at Burnley and subsequently working across Lancashire at Blackburn, Accrington, Preston and Blackpool.

He said:  “It is an absolute honour to have been selected as an ACC in Lancashire, a county I have been proud to serve for 21 years. I would like to thank all those who have supported me including staff, partner organisations and particularly my family. I look forward to playing my part in the future of Policing and serving the communities of Lancashire going forward.”

DCC Andy Rhodes said: “I am delighted that Terry will be joining our new team and his knowledge of Lancashire’s communities and operational challenges will be a real asset for us. Terry has a hard earned reputation and will bring fresh insights to our plans for the future.”

Lancashire Police and Crime Commissioner Clive Grunshaw added: “This is an exciting time in Lancashire Constabulary with a new leadership team building on a solid and high performing legacy of their predecessors. A new team brings new momentum and innovation helping us to meet new challenges and I am looking forward to working with the new Assistant Chief Constable Terry Woods and the rest of the senior management team on delivering my police and crime plan for Lancashire.”

Arrangements will now be made regarding ACC Terry Woods start date and his immediate responsibilities.

7BR sets sights on continued growth with the addition of five new barristers and a much strengthened specialist Public Law Team

Richard Clayton QC

Richard Clayton QC

Reporter: Stuart Littleford

7BR, the leading multi-disciplinary barristers’ chambers, recently announced significant additions to the Set with five new barristers and the appointment of a new Senior Clerk to the Criminal Law team.

Acclaimed Public Law Barrister Richard Clayton QC and Lee Parkhill have joined 7BR from 4-5 Gray’s Inn Square, significantly strengthening the Set’s public law capabilities. In addition, bolstering 7BR’s other key areas of practice: Vincent Coughlin QC has joined the Criminal Law Team from 4 Breams Buildings; Nick Jack has joined the Family Team from Fenners Chambers; and Liam Ryan has joined the Clinical Negligence and Personal Injury Team from Ely Place Chambers.  Additionally, Steven Wright, formerly of Three Raymond Buildings, has been appointed as Senior Clerk to the Criminal Law Team.

As a multi-disciplinary Set, public law is a strong thread running through a number of the practice areas 7BR offers. The now enhanced Team will directly support those practices and establish 7BR as a strong Set for conventional public law work.

Rachel Holmes, Chief Executive of 7BR, commented:

“We are delighted to welcome five barristers of such high repute to 7BR and are particularly excited by the expansion of our Public Law Team. The capabilities of 7BR across practice areas, so many of which encounter public law issues, means that we can now advise clients on all aspects of those matters as well as establishing 7BR as one of the preeminent public law sets.”

Public law expert Richard Clayton QC undertakes a wide range of advisory and litigation work. He is regularly instructed in judicial review proceedings as well as in cases before the European Court of Human Rights and the Privy Council. Richard advises on community care, local government and public sector issues, as well as undertaking a wide range of human rights, international and regulatory work. Described in Chambers as “very academic but also very sharp when it comes to tactics”, he is the joint author of the Law of Human Rights  (which has been cited in over 45 House of Lords, Supreme Court and Privy Council cases) and sits as a Deputy High Court Judge.

Joining alongside Richard, Lee Parkhill advises and represents both claimants and defendants in judicial review proceedings. Lee is regularly instructed in challenges to the re-organisation of public services, disputes on the provision of care and contested decisions of ombudsmen and regulators.

Vincent Coughlin QC – regularly named by the Ministry of Justice as being one of the top ten busiest silks in the country – has exceptional expertise across the full breadth of criminal law, from corporate corruption and complex tax frauds, to terrorism, homicide and drugs importations. Vincent recently defended the executive editor of The Sun who faced charges alongside Rebekah Brooks for alleged conspiracy to pay officials for stories. He is currently representing a senior Rolls Royce Executive in the global investigation by the SFO and the US Department of Justice in respect of alleged multi-million pound corrupt payments.

Family Law Barrister Nick Jack has developed an outstanding reputation for his work in public law cases alongside his regular instructions in Private Law children work. Nick advises on permanent removal applications, internal relocation cases and Hague Convention cases, and is described as “An exceptional advocate with the ability to quickly put his clients at ease”.

Liam Ryan has a civil practice specialising in personal injury and commercial litigation. Within Liam’s personal injury practice he has developed particular expertise in the field of stress at work, a niche area in which he predominantly advises senior employees in the professional and financial services sectors, most recently a partner of a law firm.

The wider additions to 7BR reinforce the Set’s ongoing commitment to being recognised for excellence across a range of civil and criminal disciplines as the Set looks to attract further quality barristers in key practice areas over the next 12-18 months.

Rachel Holmes concluded:

“As one of the leading multi-disciplinary Sets, we pride ourselves on providing our clients with a collection of specialists across a broad range of legal practice areas.  The barristers who have joined further strengthen and reinforce that standing in the market and are part of our wider future growth plans.”

Leading procurement advisers outline how changes to off-payroll taxes could give the public sector an opportunity to deliver better procurement practices all around

MD of Bloom, (Formerly Nepro Ltd) Rob Levene

MD of Bloom, (Formerly Nepro Ltd) Rob Levene

Reporter: Stuart Littleford

There has been much debate about the serious impact changes to off-payroll tax rules (IR35) will have on the public sector and contractors alike. The MD of Bloom, (Formerly Nepro Ltd) Rob Levene, argues that the changes present the public sector with a real opportunity to procure ‘outcomes’ and not ‘hours’, mitigating some of the risk and delivering better procurement practices all around.

Rob Levene told GPSJ: “The new rule will impact 20,000 contractors working for the public sector. Our clients are telling us that the changes to off-payroll tax rules are causing serious concerns. Without action on the way that interim staff are engaged, public sector buyers are likely to face consequences from the HMRC and to suffer immediate price hikes and reduced choice and access to skilled contractors.”

These fears are far from unfounded. A poll by the Association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed (IPSE) which appeared in Contractor UK last year highlighted that the public sector may face a talent drain. The poll showed:

  • 54% of PSCs intending to exit the public sector if the ‘paying agent’ is granted responsibility for IR35
  • 31% say they will leave behind working for taxpayer-funded bodies regardless of whether they would be required to pay the same tax and NI as employees
  • 23% say they will no longer do government work if they have to pay tax like an employee.

“As a business focussed on delivering outcomes for our clients, we believe these changes present public sector buyers with an opportunity to re-evaluate how they procure contractors,” Rob continued. “Best outcomes are achieved when a consultant is engaged to deliver pre-defined outputs, on a fixed fee and timescale basis. So acting on this change could be a blessing that makes organisations think differently about how they engage contractors.

We’ve seen unprecedented demand from clients looking for a solution to the impending tax rule changes. As we’ve explained that it’s not just a solution to the IR35 problem, but also an opportunity to review how contingent labour is used and consider if best value is being achieved. An ever-increasing number of contracting authorities are signing up to our solution.”

4 steps to mitigating the risk of off-payroll tax rule changes

The IR35 solution from Bloom can be broken down into 4 steps:

  • Data Gathering – the client identifies which contractors may be in scope of IR35
  • Diagnostic – using various methods to investigate whether the contractor is inside scope of IR35 or could be outside if procured via a Statement of Work. This means that:
    • Instead of focussing on hiring an ‘interim’ covering a 9-5 schedule, 5 days a week, buyers need to hire a contractor focussed on delivering the project outcomes
    • Contractors eligible to be procured in this way are identified, helping mitigate some of the risk that is being placed on the public sector.
    • If some contracts are clearly identified as being inside the scope of IR35, the client is immediately alerted and can ensure appropriate tax and NI is deducted
  • Supplier Engagement – Bloom works with suppliers in close partnership to make sure that they are comfortable with transferring their contracts to statements of work, and through the process of registration
  • Requirement Transfer – Milestone-based and outcome-focused Statements of Work are written, keeping those that are eligible safely and legally outside IR35

To cope with the demand, Bloom has created a dedicated team to guide clients through its diagnostic service and the recommended outputs. They have already signed up clients from across the public sector, and continue to receive new requests every day.

Rob Levene added: “The demand levels aren’t surprising when you consider that there are numerous advantages to procuring professional services through outcome-focused Statements of Work. Existing clients save up to 19% on average when measured against project budget. Our strategies of supporting SMEs, local procurement and social value help clients achieve their procurement goals. Another big benefit is the reduction in scope creep; for one client who used Bloom to fulfil 132 projects in a 12-month period, only 7 projects extended.

Contractors benefit from this new approach too. Whilst many now need to face the tax consequences of the changes, others could take this opportunity to change how they are procured by focusing on the outcomes first. By registering as a supplier with Bloom, they get access projects with over 130 public sector clients. For SMEs in particular (which make up the majority of our supply chain) this is an incredible opportunity to access public sector contracts.

Employing a consultant through Bloom means taking a different approach to employing interims and consultants. By changing the focus from delivery to outcomes, you change the relationship with the person doing the work. There’s no confusion of employment boundaries. Just a clearly defined outcome, delivered for a fixed fee, in a defined time.

And that’s the opportunity. Change to a focus on outcomes and actively manage the risk these tax changes bring. You might even see the change as a blessing one day.”

The Utility Week Live 2017 transformation leaders and technologies

For all utilities, transformation and flexibility are not optional as they face the challenges ahead: they are the key to survival.

Driving this change in culture are a number of people, whilst a number of key technologies will enable and shape the utilities’ transformation and increasing flexibility.

Utility Week Live 2017 has identified the 10 most important transformation leaders and technologies, as voted for by the industry themselves.

Key People

The ten individuals set out have embraced innovation and driving change in their respective companies, across the sector, and more widely. They are the leaders in the transformation the utilities are undergoing towards becoming more flexible, sustainable and suitable for the new world we’re all heading towards.

These people are: Basil Scarsella, chief executive, UK Power Networks; Ben Jeffs, director and chief executive, MOSL; Cathryn Ross, chief executive, Ofwat; Cheryl Latham, chief executive, Brighter World Energy; Dermot Nolan, chief executive, Ofgem; Piers Clark, founder and chairman, Isle Utilities; Elon Musk, founder and products architect, Tesla and chairman, SolarCity; John Reynolds, chief executive, Castle Water; Simon Harrison, group strategic development manager, Mott MacDonald, and chair of the energy policy panel, IET; and Tony Cocker, chief executive, Eon UK.

Over the coming months, Utility Week/WWT/WET News/Network will speak to the top ten people, speak to people in the industry about the influence and impact they have had, publish biographies detailing their careers and key decisions, or hearing from them direct with columns.

Key technologies

The ten technologies outlined opposite/below are fundamentally changing the shape and look of the utilities sector – in particular the energy side things. These include technologies and innovations that are already a key part of utilities’ daily operations, and those whose influence and impact is only going to grow in the coming years.

The top ten technologies are: cloud computing; demand response and demand side management; electric vehicles; energy storage, including battery technology; geographical information systems (GIS); the Internet of Things (IoT); machine learning; smart metering; solar; and wind.

Over the coming months, Utility Week/WWT/WET News/Network will speak to experts in the technologies, look at examples of how they have been rolled out and assess the impact they’ve had, look at the numbers behind the innovations, and getting investor views on the development of the technologies and how close they are to transforming the business as usual operation in the sector.

The Utility Week Live 2017 transformation technologies:

  • Cloud computing
    • Cloud computing is a general term for the delivery of hosted services over the internet. It enables companies to use computer resources, such as data storage or an application, as a utility, rather than having to build and maintain computing infrastructures and servers in house. This could enable multiple devices, including tablets and mobiles, access to programmes and data remotely vie the internet.
  • Demand response/demand side management
    • Demand response and demand side management provides an opportunity for consumers to play a significant role in the operation of the electric grid by reducing or shifting their electricity usage during peak periods in response to time-based rates or other forms of financial incentives. The aim is to cut peak loads and remove the need to reinforce energy networks by better tying demand up with supply.
  • Electric vehicles
    • The last three years have seen a remarkable surge in demand for electric vehicles in the UK – new registrations of plug-in cars increased from 3,500 in 2013 to around 85,000 by January 2017. The increase in the number of EVs will potentially put additional strain on energy networks by increasing demand at peak times. However, there is also the opportunity to utilise EVs as mobile storage devices.
  • Energy storage (including batteries)
    • Energy storage (ES) technologies offer great potential for supporting renewable energy and the UK’s energy system. The offer different ways to store the energy created by variable renewable technologies at times when demand is low, but supply is high. They will then be able to provide a variety of services when needed.
    • There are a variety of energy storage solutions available and being developed, including battery technologies, pumped storage, and mechanical storage.
  • Geographical information systems (GIS)
    • A geographic information system (GIS) is a computer system for capturing, storing, checking, and displaying data related to positions on Earth’s surface. GIS can show many different kinds of data on one map. This enables people to more easily see, analyse, and understand patterns and relationships. For utilities, this will enable them to assess information about the land, such as the location of factories, farms, and schools, or storm drains, roads, and electric power lines.
  • Internet of Things (IoT)
    • Simply put, this is the concept of basically connecting any device with an on and off switch to the Internet (and/or to each other). For utilities, this could enable a variety of devices at different sites and locations to connect to one another and to communicate and take orders from staff or collectively follow programmes. This could include the safe shutdown of assets at a substation in response to a failure, and another asset responding to ensure continuity of supply. At a domestic level, this could enable smart appliance to respond to external signals to turn on or power down.
  • Machine learning
    • Machine learning is the field of computer science that gives computers the ability to learn without being explicitly programmed. In the last decade this has provided innovations such as self driving cars and practical speech recognition. Moving forward, this could lead to improved and automated network management.
  • Smart metering
    • On a basic level, smart meters are electronic devices that record consumption of energy and communicate that information at back to the utility for monitoring and billing. The UKs smart meter programme is due to rollout 53 million smart gas and electricity meters by 2020. The technology is also thought to be an enabler technology, allowing for things such as 24 hour switching, smart appliances within a connected home, and opening up smarter local network management solutions.
    • Solar
    • Solar power is the conversion of sunlight into electricity. Within the UK, 10 per cent of its renewable power comes from solar power, or 1.5% of total UK electricity. This comes from a total of 8GW of solar PV which has been deployed so far. Solar is owned by 670,000 homeowners, and thousands of businesses, farmers, schools and community groups. Despite cuts to subsides for the technology, it is expected to continue growing as the government strives to meet its carbon targets.
  • Wind
    • The UK is one of the best locations for wind power in the world, and is considered to be the best in Europe. It contributed 11 per cent of UK electricity generation in 2015, and 17 per cent in December 2015. The deployment of wind power is set to increase, despite government opposition to new onshore developments. Offshore wind is expected to be the biggest growth area, with bigger turbines and larger windfarms being developed.

The Utility Week Live transformation leaders:

  • Basil Scarsella – chief executive, UK Power Networks
    • Scarsella has seen UKPN win the utility of the year award at the Utility Week awards twice in consecutive years (2015 and 2016). This has been achieved by improving the safety, efficiency and reliability of the DNO’s operations. Alongside this, under Scarsella’s leadership UKPN is also embracing new technologies, such as energy storage at its Leighton Buzzard site.
  • Ben Jeffs – director and chief executive, MOSL
    • Jeffs was named chief executive of MOSL in July 2015 and since then has a seen the development of the market operator from a small, starter company to the delivery body behind the opening up of the non-domestic water market. He has helped drive forward the programme which will significantly change the way the water retail market operates.
  • Cathryn Ross – chief executive, Ofwat
    • Ross has been influential in helping the regulator shift away from descriptive regulation to a more principles based approach. She returned to Ofwat in July 2013 after five years away at the Office of Rail Regulation. Since then she has guided the industry through the PR14 price review and is gearing up to take the sector through the even more revolutionary PR19. Ross also has an important role in ensuring the sector is ready for market opening in April 2017.
  • Cheryl Latham – chief executive, Brighter World Energy
    • Latham has set up the new energy supplier, Brighter World Energy, in an attempt to tackle two major problems: UK energy customers being “consistently overcharged” and people in poor nations such as Africa living without access to energy. It promises to install a solar-powered micro-grid in an African village for every 2,000 UK customers it signs up.
  • Dermot Nolan – chief executive, Ofgem
    • Nolan joined Ofgem as chief executive officer in March 2014, having previously been commissioner at the Commission for Energy Regulation in Ireland from May 2008 and its chair since May 2011. He has overseen turbulent times within the energy sector, with pressure mounting on suppliers following the Competition and markets Authority probe. Nolan will now have to ensure customers are treated fairly under the principles-based approach being adopted by the regulator. Away from retail, Nolan will also manage the transformation of the energy networks to a more flexible system, including making it easier for storage solutions to be developed.
  • Piers Clark – founder and chairman, Isle Utilities
    • Clark set up isle Utilities on the back of his experience gained working at Blackstone’s water-sector private equity fund and from four years as Thames water’s commercial director. He has also helped to establish the Technology Approval Group (TAG) in 2005. Isle Utilities is a global team of scientists, engineers, business and regulatory experts, with a “common drive to make a positive social, economical, and environmental impact through the advancement of innovative technologies and related practices”.
  • Elon Musk – founder and products architect, Tesla; and chairman, SolarCity
    • Musk is best-known for his exploits with the Tesla motor company, which is developing electric vehicles. The Model S was the most popular EV in the world last year, selling more than 50,000 units. Following on from the success in the automobile sector, Muck has driven Tesla forward with the development of the Powerwall storage system – both for domestic and commercial purposes. He has generated interest in the energy storage sector and EVs that goes far beyond the traditional reach of the sector.
  • John Reynolds – chief executive, Castle Water
    • Reynolds has driven the rapid expansion of Castle Water from a new entrant in the Scottish water retail sector, to the one of the largest companies in the UK water retail space. This has seen the company takeover the customer bases of Portsmouth Water and Thames Water.
  • Simon Harrison – group strategic development manager, Mott MacDonald; and chair of the Energy policy panel, IET
    • Harrison has a pan-infrastructure perspective including energy, transportation, water, the urban and built environment, having built his career primarily in the electricity sector. He also has an active interest in energy policy has led to him directing a number of key studies in the UK and elsewhere. Harrison also chairs the IET’s energy policy panel, and most recently the Future Power Systems Architecture Project, a collaboration for the UK government between the IET and the Energy Systems Catapult.
  • Tony Cocker – chief executive, Eon UK
    • Cocker has worked his way up through the company over a period 19 years to arrive at his current position. He spent 11 years with Eon UK before being names as chief executive in 2008. Since then, he has seen go through a split, with the newly created company Uniper taking on ill focus on the conventional energy world – consisting of upstream and midstream businesses that originally belonged to Eon.

Utility Week Live returns to the NEC in Birmingham on 23 and 24 May and will showcase the latest innovations and technical solutions for the industry.

The theme for this year’s event is transformation and flexibility, and it is the show for essential services to showcase hundreds of new products from specialist suppliers and innovators, technical presentations, pitches and live demos.

Plus, there is an extensive programme of seminars exploring the future of gas, electricity and water.

For more information, please visit:

Westminster City Council in joint venture to help public sector organisations

Simon Terry CEO at 4C Associates

Westminster City Council is partnering with International management and procurement consultancy, 4C Associates, to launch Symbiance, the first company of its kind dedicated to helping local and central Government, and public sector organisations make significant financial benefits.

Over the last three years, Westminster City Council’s procurement team has contributed year-on-year savings across the Council, of more than £120m. As a result, the council already has the lowest band D Council Tax of any local authority and is 45% lower than the inner London average. The Westminster team now wants other authorities that face the daily pressures of reduced funding, to benefit from their success.

By combining Westminster’s know-how in public sector spend with 4C Associate’s consultancy expertise in procurement and managed services, including 4C’s work within the private and public sectors, Symbiance will deliver a range of cost saving services such as: ‘Cost Reduction;’ which includes reviewing spend across the entire organisation; ‘Target Operating Model’ which assesses the efficiency of how the organisation is structured and functioning; ‘Process & Technology,’ to identify any inefficient systems and processes; and ‘Managed Services.’ The consultancy’s team of specialists will drive value by assessing cost efficiency throughout the entire organisation from the supplier contracts, to the operating model, right down to the spend item of goods and services used.

Mark Ellis, Partner at 4C Associates, said, “UK public sector services are constantly feeling the financial squeeze caused by a rise in demand for services and cuts in funding. Symbiance will help to overcome these economic challenges. 4C’s consulting capabilities, Westminster’s deep understanding of local government and both organisations’ demonstrated ability to deliver value, brings a unique combination of expertise and experience that is already proving to be of great interest to public sector organisations, from local and central Government to wider public services such as housing associations, health authorities and educational establishments.”

Simon Terry CEO at 4C Associates, told Government and Public Sector Journal: “Symbiance will help public sector organisations address their increasingly difficult challenge to improve, or at least maintain, services while they simultaneously reduce costs. Symbiance combines Westminster City Council’s outstanding ability to deliver real value in local government with 4C’s expertise in transforming private and public sector operations and in driving value through better efficiencies and lower costs. The innovation we have shown in creating Symbiance reflects the approach we have and will take in helping our stakeholders achieve their goals.

“Symbiance will work with the Chief executives, CFOs and CPO/Heads of Procurement of public sector organisation to help them deliver value. We offer consultancy services to improve performance through transforming processes, organisations, capabilities and better use of technology, we offer targeted cost reduction programmes to address budget challenges and we offer managed services to provide best-in-class capabilities for the long term.

“Symbiance will help public sector organisations deliver short term savings, sustainable long term value and transform their operations to create an internal capability.”

Anthony Oliver, Chief Procurement Officer at Westminster City Council

Anthony Oliver, Chief Procurement Officer at Westminster City Council, told GPSJ today: “Over the past three years Westminster City Council has delivered budget savings over £100m. This has been necessary to counteract the significant financial challenges of reduced funding from central government and chronic cost pressures within services. The Council has strengthened its strategic commissioning and procurement capabilities. Through our transformation Westminster has exemplified the delivery of Better for Less, driving innovation and sustainability though its procurement which it now can leverage for other public sector organisations. Symbiance brings together Westminster, the best of local government and 4C’s expertise in delivering cost reduction and organisational efficiency.”

“Westminster City Council’s Procurement Services team are looking to leverage its significant success in the Council to drive value, reduce cost and work with its customers to innovate services through its joint venture with 4C Associates, supporting other public sector organisations facing similar challenges,” he added.

Comment to GPSJ: Government Transformation Strategy

Chris Price, Director, Public Sector at Computacenter

Chris Price, Director, Public Sector at Computacenter

Following the announcement of the Government Transformation Strategy today Chris Price, Director, Public Sector at Computacenter has told GPSJ:

“We welcome The Government Transformation Strategy announced today. This is an important step towards ensuring the UK Government remains a global leader in its approach to public service transformation through harnessing best of UK tech. 

“The government has made significant strides in the adoption of digital over the last six years, and this new strategy rightly recognises the need now to focus on the wholesale end-to-end transformation. This means tackling the ‘back-end’ plumbing, and driving efficiency with an internal focus on equipping civil servants with the right workplace tools. 

“As a home grown British technology company with a global footprint, we look forward to playing a key role in delivering this transformation and in doing so contributing to the UK’s economic growth.”

Expert urges public sector bodies to act RIGHT NOW to alleviate chaos surrounding IR35 reforms

Dave Chaplin, CEO of ContractorCalculator

Dave Chaplin, CEO of ContractorCalculator

Public sector bodies may need to implement an emergency action plan to avoid losing vital skills warns Dave Chaplin, CEO of ContractorCalculator ahead of April’s IR35 reforms. The advice comes following HMRC’s guidance that invoices paid after 6 April 2017 for work carried out before that date will be subject to the new rules.

Any public sector body that pays its contractors one month in arrears will need to receive invoices before 6 March while those that pay their contractors on anything more than 60 day terms will need to consider settling invoices before 6 April. Any public sector body that cannot provide proof to the recruitment agency that a contractor is outside IR35 according to the new rules will result in a contractor having his or her tax and National Insurance Contributions (NICs) deducted at source.

Dave Chaplin commented: “The fallout of the new rules for public sector bodies is potentially disastrous. We have been warning public sector hirers about the impact of the new legislation for some time now so I would hope that they have been conducting due diligence and getting their ducks in a row to deal with the new reforms well before now.

“The reforms represent a potential car crash for all public sector bodies that hire contractors. A poll we conducted last year told us that 80% of contractors plan on abandoning the public sector rather than accept a contract inside IR35 so it is important that hirers work closely together with their contractors now to establish a contractor’s employment status or else risk losing them altogether.”

Contractor Calculator would point out that those public sector hirers which pay their contractors a month in arrears may well struggle to assess all their contractors in time with only weeks to go so has come up with an action plan for them to avoid a contractor skills brain drain:

–  place limited company contractors in a Pay As You Earn (PAYE) umbrella solution temporarily whilst assessing contractors.

–  test contractors as soon as possible – engaging a contractor via an umbrella for more than 12 weeks will mean they are eligible for certain employment rights under the Agency Workers Regulations creating additional costs.

–  Contractor Calculator’s solution  is currently available and will provide free online IR35 testing instantly. The test displays the contractor’s IR35 risk along a spectrum allowing hirers to make a fully informed decision regarding a contractor’s status and minimising any risk.

–  once each contract has been IR35 tested hirers will know which contractors have passed and who can return to trading via their limited company on the same terms as before and can negotiate an outside-IR35 contract for those who fail.

Dave Chaplin added: “The timing of these reforms is causing utter chaos and already threatening an exodus of talent. This will have a significant impact on an already stretched public sector. Government projects rely heavily on contractor expertise and the whole point of hiring contractors via personal service companies (PSCs) is the public sector wants contractors, not employees, for short-term expertise on tap. The proposed reforms are already starting to potentially cause irreconcilable damage for all involved but we are where we are, so I would advise any ill-prepared public sector body to heed our advice and carry out our action plan without delay.”

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Local councils turn to cloud technology to more efficiently manage the booking and hosting of events

James Pegum, CEO of Priava

James Pegum, CEO of Priava

Priava, the leading cloud-based venue management software company, has announced that a growing number of local government organisations in both the UK and Australia are deploying its cloud-based venue management software to maximise event bookings, reduce costs and improve services to local residents.

Councils face unique challenges in managing hundreds of community and commercial events and bookings every month across a multitude of facilities and spaces, including recreational grounds, sports halls, stadium, swimming pools, community centres, halls and dedicated function spaces.

Priava’s cloud-based software – including event booking with an online calendar, venue and inventory management, CRM, task management, file storage, sales management, online enquiries, and catering modules – enables councils to manage bookings for multiple venues from a central application and offer online self-service bookings. UK councils that have so far adopted the software include Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea, London Borough of Ealing, London Borough of Waltham Forest and London Borough of Woking.

James Pegum, CEO of Priava, commented: “At Priava we understand that no two councils or government organisations are the same. Our purpose-built software has been designed to be flexible, intuitive and easy-to-use, with the aim of streamlining booking processes in accordance with the needs and existing processes of our council and government clients. This enables users to increase efficiency, enhance services, reduce costs and maximise occupancy and income across a diverse range of venue spaces.”

Priava’s system includes an online calendar, offering the public a self-service option to check availability and make room-booking enquiries.

Support for flexible working

As it is cloud-based, nothing ever needs to be installed onsite, which means different venues, spaces and facilities of all sizes can be managed using just the one application, and flexible working staff can be easily supported. Built-in reporting enables managers to check the utilisation of resources at a glance, ensuring local residents get the best value for money.

Key benefits for councils

Some of the benefits that councils are realising from automating the booking of facilities and running of events include:

      • Reduce administration costs, streamline the enquiry process and increase customer service experience by providing a self-service enquiry system with an online calendar & enquiry form;
      • Differentiate between internal & external bookings quickly and easily by creating separate rates and financial codes specific for each venue and facility that can be exported to accounting packages;
      • Maximise revenue generated from commission payments by accurately tracking referral sales for all third-party suppliers; e.g. external caterers, event stylists, audio-visual suppliers etc.;
      • Saves time by managing repeat bookings and creating and editing re-occurring events with ease e.g. community group meetings, fitness classes, sports pitch bookings etc.;
      • Reports on usage of spaces and other intelligence e.g. top hirers, can be created quickly for senior management;
      • Eliminates the possibility of double bookings;
      • Improves venue/facilities use with access to real-time availability;
      • Reduces the burden on in-house IT department as all updates/maintenance are managed remotely by Priava and there is no need for an on-site server
      • Integrates with accounting packages, marketing systems and other software packages to ensure real-time sync of information between all existing systems and reduce errors from the duplication of data;
      • Supports flexible or remote working with secure access from any location at any time;
      • Ease of use of system reduces training for events staff;
      • Easy-to-use report designer enables administrators to create simple and effective catering booking forms and contracts etc.Key modules that form part of Priava’s software include; an easy-to-use CRM system that allows users to add & edit contact, organisation and opportunity records with ease, Events & Bookings which combines the ability to access a sophisticated venue chart together with the ability to find, add & edit event bookings, Online Calendar & Enquiries which has been developed to boost efficiency for local authorities that manage venues that need to be booked on a self-service basis such as internal meeting rooms or external facilities that are in high demand (e.g. sporting facilities, community halls etc.) Catering & Inventory allow users to attach food, beverages, resources and equipment to quotes and event bookings with advanced reporting on profits and losses as well as the ability to link to accounting packages, Advanced Permissions which enables administrators to control the information that users have access to, and Priava’s REST API which allows Priava to sync information with 3rd party systems such as accounting packages.
      • For further information
        Tel: 0845 0744 250

Top Deloitte Business Award for Me Learning

Me Learning directors celebrating their win

Me Learning directors celebrating their win

Online training expert, Me Learning, has been announced as one of the fastest growing technology companies in the Deloitte Technology Fast 500 EMEA 2016. Featuring rising technology companies across the entire Europe, Middle East and Africa regions, the figures reveal Me Learning in a credible 360th position.

Rankings for this international award are based on percentage growth over a four year period. Me Learning’s growth tripled in this period and grew at a staggering 322%, catapulting them into the top 500 for this geographically wide region.

In order to be considered for the Deloitte Technology Fast 500 EMEA 2016 entrants must prove a base-year operating revenue of at least 50,000 Euros and current-year operating revenues of at least 800,000 Euros. Headquarters must be based in the EMEA region and should be a technology company that ‘develops or owns proprietary technology that contributes to a significant portion of the company’s operating revenues’.

Me Learning is a specialist provider of quality e-learning solutions to both private and public organisations, specifically to the social care sector, charities, education and health. It creates, develops and sells specific online training courses that range from compliance related to tailor made learning platforms. Today, Me Learning works with 110 Local Authorities in the UK and has over 250,000 registered learners.

Nick Richards, co-Founder of Me Learning comments, “Since starting the company in 2005 we have seen steady growth as our breadth of courses develop and our customer base grows and grows. To be considered and even included in the Deloitte Technology Fast 500 EMEA 2016 is testament to the consistently high quality of work our team produces. We were delighted to be included in 2015 but to reach 360th in such a wide global region for 2016 is fantastic news – let’s see if we can be even better placed next year!”

“Innovation is more than technological advancement; it’s also a state of mind,” added Paul Sallomi, vice chairman, Deloitte LLP and global technology, media and telecommunications industry leader. “The winners of the Deloitte Technology Fast 500 program in EMEA recognise that this new type of thinking is essential for business success. We look forward to your continued leadership in introducing new tools that can enhance the personal lives of consumers, and drive growth for companies worldwide.”

Achieving a position in the Deloitte Technology Fast 500 is impressive in this highly competitive and rapidly changing environment. To be featured in the listings companies have to be both dynamic and successful – for the second year running Me Learning has matched these requirements and proved it with their resulting sales.

For further information on Me Learning please visit or follow on @MeLearningUK

Transformation and flexibility top themes for Utility Week Live

Transformation and flexibility are the two headline themes of Utility Week Live, which returns to the NEC in Birmingham on 23-24 May 2017 bigger and better than ever.

Today’s utilities need to rise to the challenges of changing models of consumption and competition, the demands of sustainability and extreme weather, and political and economic upheaval: all these require a new approach from the essential businesses delivering water, gas and electricity to UK homes and businesses. Transformation and flexibility are therefore not optional for utilities, but the key to survival and success.

Utility Week Live 2017 will bring together these businesses with their supply chains and wider stakeholders to explore the new models of thinking and operating that are demanded by this challenging environment.

With last year’s show featuring more than 100 speakers, 150 exhibitors and 3,000 delegates, the 2017 version promises to grow this still further.

The pan-utility keynote conference will feature top utility leaders debating themes including resilience and decision-making amid uncertainty (including the potential impact of Brexit), skills, sustainability and new business models. ‘Meet the regulator’ and ‘meet the buyer’ sessions will give delegates the chance to pose questions to Ofgem and Ofwat, and for utilities to engage with major energy and water users.

Meanwhile, seminar sessions will once again take place in individual theatres on the show floor dedicated to Water and Energy, and there will be a new Customer Theatre for retail and customer-focussed topics.

Essential show features include the Innovation Zone (organised in partnership with the Energy Innovation Council); the Drilling & Tapping competition, including the World Water Cup (in partnership with the Institute of Water), the Streetworks Village, the Network Zone and the Outdoor Demonstration Zone. To mark the opening of the non-household retail market for water we will also be introducing the Water Retail Pavilion (co-hosted with our sister show edie Live), where water retailers can meet the major business buyers of water.

“After the success of last year, I am extremely excited to announce that Utility Week Live 2017 has launched,” said Amanda Barnes, Chief Executive of Utility Week Live. “It is a great opportunity for the multi-billion pound UK utilities industry to gather over two lively days of networking and come face-to-face with the key decision makers across the gas, electricity and water sectors.”

The Utility Week Live exhibition, technical seminars and keynote plenary sessions are all free to attend, while a paid ticket will be required to gain access to the keynote conference and panel discussions.

WATER THEATRE SESSIONS INCLUDE: Preparing for PR19; Innovation in water; Energy efficiency opportunities; World class water; The circular economy and resource recovery; EU and environmental legislation policy update; Market opening: working with retailers; Water resources and energy from sludge; A sustainable water industry for the future – 2020 and beyond

ENERGY NETWORK THEATRE SESSIONS INCLUDE: Regulation update; The future of innovation; The storage revolution; The data driven network; The future of gas networks; The network of the future; Future heat; The connected customer and the network of the future; Innovation and cross vector thinking

CUSTOMER PROGRAMME THEATRE SESSIONS INCLUDE: Energy retail and the post CMA landscape; The connected customer; Putting customer service at the heart of water companies; Understanding the implications of next day switching; Meeting the needs of vulnerable customers; Smart metering and business transformation; Community energy; Delivering gold standard customer service

KEYNOTE THEATRE SESSIONS INCLUDE: Decision making in the face of uncertainty and turbulence; Smart utilities and their role in smart cities; Meet the Regulators – a Q&A session with Ofgem & Ofwat; Innovation: Digital utilities and the customer interface; Sustainability and climate change resilience; Meet the Buyers – a Q&A session with major energy and water users

Show features

The Innovation Zone: Organised in association with the Energy Innovation Council, this popular feature will showcase the latest game-changing innovations for the gas and electricity industries via technical pitches and live product demonstrations.

Drilling & Tapping championships including the World Water Cup: In partnership with the Institute of Water, the Drilling and Tapping competition sees teams racing against the clock to complete a simulated household connection to a water main. This year the contest incorporates the World Water Cup, with visiting teams competing from the USA and the Netherlands.

The Streetworks Village: The interactive streetworks village will involve a wide range of streetworks solutions providers demonstrating their products on a patchwork of specially-constructed streets.

Water Pavilion: Co-hosted with Utility Week Live’s sister show edie Live, the Water Pavilion will bring together water retailers and major business buyers of water.

The Network Zone: Come along for insights and networking into the wholesale energy market from Network, the dedicated title for electricity, gas and heat distribution professionals.

The Outdoor Demo Zone: Take a breath of fresh air while watching live product demonstrations outdoors from a host of Utility Week Live exhibitors.


£791 million: The expected spend by visiting companies in 2016 with exhibitors at Utility Week Live.

The show is attended by 100% of Britain’s water companies, energy companies and network operators.