Centrifuge spins wider

A consultancy co-operative with offices in Newcastle and Glasgow has extended its reach across the UK with help from Co-op Loan Fund.

Centrifuge Consulting provides a range of social and economic consultancy mostly to local authorities and other public sector organisations. Its work includes developing business cases, securing funding, designing and delivering policies and projects, and monitoring and evaluation. Most of its clients are based in the north of England or southern Scotland, but in the last year it has won contracts in the west of England, Cheshire and the Scottish Highlands and Islands.

“Recently we have been getting longer-term contracts,” explained Alastair Thomson, one of the co-operative’s directors. “This is good for our business planning but not so good for cash-flow management. The Co-op Loan Fund has helped us to smooth this out.”

One example of recent work is the two-year evaluation of a pilot programme for the West of England Combined Authority, targeting in-work poverty. The pilot programme is being funded by the Department of Work and Pensions and the evaluation will help to inform future developments, potentially improving the lives of many people on low incomes and zero-hours contracts.

Centrifuge Consulting was set up as a worker co-op in 2007 by Liam Marsh and Alastair Thomson. Both have extensive experience in social and economic development and both have a strong commitment to co-operative principles.

“We provide our clients with a wealth of experience and a reasonable price,” said Alastair. “And I think that is why we are getting the work.”

Ian Rothwell, of The Co-operative Loan Fund, said: “Centrifuge have managed to win new contracts in a difficult market, and they are now picking up work all over Britain, from Bristol to the Western Isles. We are very pleased to support these committed co-operators in developing their business.”

[photo caption: the beach at Bamburgh, Northumberland. Centrifuge developed the Economic Plan for the Bamburgh, Seahouses and Beadnell Coastal Community Team]