Cygnet launch leads the way for new social enterprises in Sutton

Sutton’s successful local business community has been joined by the very first social enterprise company to be created by former borough council staff.

Cygnet IT Services is Sutton’s first Community Interest Company (CIC) and has been started by the borough’s former education IT team.

The company, based in Carshalton, provides IT support services to schools and other local organisations. It already has a long list of clients including schools and academies in Kingston, Merton, Lambeth, Surrey and Croydon as well as the Citizen’s Advice Bureau.

As part of the council’s need to save £40m the service has been spun out from the borough’s control to become a social enterprise.

This means all the profits are put back into the business and also keeps revenue in the local community. Council staff have been transferred over to the business, saving 25 jobs and avoiding the cost of redundancy.

The Liberal Democrat council is looking to repeat this in other service areas and is supporting the creation of a new company to run the borough’s two theatres.

The creation of Cygnet IT Service is also supported by the Cabinet Office which provided legal and consultancy advice as part of its Mutual Support Programme.

Cllr Simon Wales, the Council’s social enterprise champion, said: “Cygnet IT Services are the trend-setters. They are the first to set themselves up and trade on the open market. This is a great example of how we can innovate to support both residents and our business community.

We are also giving a clear commitment to developing social enterprises. The strength of Cygnet is in the way it collaborates with other partners and returns its profits to the business. Difficult budget decisions can be rewarding if we take the opportunity to innovate. I wish them many successful years of trading.”

Cllr Wendy Mathys, Chair of the Children, Family and Education Committee, said: This has been exciting and challenging for all the staff involved but totally worthwhile. The council has to find a large amount of savings in children’s services over the next few years, and this shows we can modernise and be dynamic in how we all meet that challenge.”

Gary Shambrook, Cygnet IT Services Chief Executive, said: It has been a very rewarding and interesting journey. I am grateful to Sutton Council for their unerring support and I am very proud of my staff. Without their commitment and dedication from the outset, it would have been impossible for me to be leading us into a new and more exciting future.” 

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