Cheshire West and Chester Council

Qwest Services

Briefly describe the initiative/ project/ service

In April 2014, following an extensive, whole-Council review process to determine the most efficient, effective way to delivery high quality services, Cheshire West and Chester Council began a process to establish a joint venture company to deliver:
• a genuine partnership between public/private sector innovation
• evidence of significant savings, new sources of investment and opportunities for growth
• commercial expertise to trade services with third parties
In 2015, the Council partnered with ENGIE one of the world’s leading energy and service providers to form Qwest. With an annual revenues of over €69 billion and 155,000 people around the world, this means Qwest has the financial backing and scale to deliver on its commitment to value for money and service quality.
Qwest is a framework service provider. Public bodies across the UK can purchase services from the company, confident they are getting value for money and quality service without the need to undertake a lengthy and expensive procurement exercise.
Qwest’s services include:
• Building Maintenance
• Cleaning & Facilities Management
• Property & Project Services
• Customer Services & Business Processes
• Capital Works
• Energy innovation
• Digital Services

Why do you think it should win this award?

Qwest is an example of effective, open-minded commissioning and procurement in action. This approach was unpinned by the Council’s process to systematically review everything we do and also ask ourselves whether the Council is the best service provider, and the respective benefits of public and private services. Through this process we identified an exciting opportunity for a public and private joint venture, to bring together a range of expertise and, financial backing to work towards the delivery of public services, and wider benefits for local residents. The innovative ways in which Qwest has supported services, and displayed its public service ethos include:
• Projects for Council owned companies have benefited from the streamlined project management mechanism, avoiding lengthy procurement exercises.
• Energy Team – delivery the existing functions of the in-house energy service and maximising the benefits of working with an international energy company.
• Risk management – Qwest’s proactive approach to building maintenance and document control enabled the Council to react positively to challenges surrounding the Grenfell Tower fire and resultant compliance exercise, ensuring our tenants safe and reassured.

What are the key achievements?

Establishing Qwest has been a vital part of the Council’s strategy to meet the challenge of improving services and delivering value for money to residents. Since it began providing services, Qwest has delivered a revenue budget saving of £2.8m. Qwest’s achievements include:
• 95% external customer satisfaction
• Transforming and modernising the Council’s business operations
• Driving the Council’s digital programme. 50% of services will be digital by 2020.
• Obtaining a £5m contract to replace 27, 000 streetlights
• Implemented a self-serve portal for our residents
Qwest is dedicated to maintaining and promoting a public service ethos. This is illustrated through the priority given to corporate social responsibility, and the impact made in local communities by the company.
So far in 2017, Qwest has:
• Volunteered for over 400 hours in the local community
• Raised £5101 for local and national charities
• Provided 956 hours for work experience to local schools, colleges and unemployed residents working with the Councils work zones
• Recruited 11 new apprentices
• Provided 2 graduates with 6 month placements within the company.