Newcastle City Council partnership with eaga launched

A UNIQUE partnership which will bring a multi-million pound boost to the Tyneside economy was launched yesterday.

Northern Rock tower, Ray Wood, Paul Varley

A UNIQUE partnership which will bring a multi-million pound boost to the Tyneside economy was launched yesterday.

Newcastle City Council and green support services firm eaga plc are linking up to form a company aiming to land £45m worth of public sector contracts over the next two years. The move will secure around 2,000 jobs and create hundreds more, as well as bringing investment into the city.

Called the Real Partnership, the venture will bid for contracts to provide services such as payroll, benefits, council tax payments, IT and customer service, in a market worth £7bn.

Real will be based at the Tower in Gosforth, built as a headquarters for Northern Rock but bought by the city council for a rumoured £22m earlier this year.

The council says it is currently engaged in complex legal discussions over its purchase of the Tower, but expects to be handed the keys within the month.

The never-used 10-storey building at Regent Centre will be rented to Real and eaga on a 25-year lease and will be renamed Partnership House.

Staff should be at their desks in the new building early in the New Year.

Real bosses say the initiative will be the most ambitious of its kind in the UK, saving money for the council by making more efficient use of its existing systems and winning contracts to bring in cash, benefiting taxpayers.

Northern Rock tower

Real Partnership chairman Paul Varley said: “Real Partnership is a very unique project. The ethos behind the company is about making a real difference to people’s lives, understanding the customer and delivering a cost effective service, on their behalf, that truly reflects the needs of local communities and the local authorities.”

Real Partnership chief executive Ray Ward said: “Although still very much in its infancy, Real Partnership has already had a lot of interest from the public sector.

“This isn’t speed-dating. Usually people get together to bid for a contract before there’s a prize. We’re together with eaga because it works.

“Real will be headquartered in Newcastle and there will be reflected benefit from the work we win in the local economy, and job growth.”

The city council is undergoing a programme which aims to shed 510 posts to save cash. Real will secure jobs at City Service, the council’s financial and customer service arm, which has already made 30% efficiencies.

The 125,000sqft tower, completed last November at a cost of £25m, was built to house 1,500 of Northern Rock’s staff but was never used as the bank was nationalised and cut its workforce.

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