The Wider Markets Initiative
Public assets such as land, buildings, people and intellectual property, which are needed to deliver core services, can often be used more fully. The Wider Markets Initiative is a government policy designed to encourage the more intensive use of such assets through the development of new, non statutory goods and services which are sold on a commercial basis. The more efficient use of public assets that results helps the public sector to reduce its cost base and improve its skills base.
The Treasury established the Wider Markets Initiative in 1998 and contracted Partnerships UK to support it in 1999. The policy is discretionary – there are no income generation or other targets. This is to avoid any adverse impact on core activity and so that decisions on commercial, income generating activities are not distorted.
There is a central requirement for departments to have a Wider Markets Officer to provide guidance, to act as a point of contact and to track activity. There is also an incentive for the public sector to carry out wider markets activity as departments can retain income generated to offset against expenditure or to count towards efficiency targets.
The 2004 Lyons’ review of public sector asset management recommended that efficient management of retained assets should be explicitly prioritised and should include the more intensive sweating of physical or intellectual property assets. The review noted difficulties in identifying intangible assets and recommended that steps should be taken to re-energise activity to identify and exploit these assets.
Selling into Wider Markets—A policy note for public bodies (HMT)
The Wider Markets Initiative (NAO)
PUK Wider Markets Survey 2005