A company created by Norfolk County Council is paying a staggering £82m in wages to Norfolk people and supporting one in 50 jobs, an independent report has revealed.

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County councillors ordered a report into what Norse Group, a commercial services company which the authority created in 2006, does for the county. And the independent economic analysis of the company, which has contracts as far afield as Devon and Leeds, revealed how it plays a key part in Norfolk’s economy.

The report, which will come before county councillors next week, was drawn up by a company called SQW and shows 5,700 of the group’s 9,000 workers are based in Norfolk.

It found £82m was paid in salaries to its Norfolk workers in 2011/12 and concluded that, taking direct jobs, supply chain and recycling of wages it supports a total of more than 6,800 jobs in the county.

The group brings together facilities management provider Norse Commercial Services, asset management and property services provider the NPS Group and care company Norse Care Ltd.

It has 36 offices around the country, with various contracts and partnerships with a string of councils.

Closer to home, it has contracts with Norwich City Council to repair council homes and clean civic buildings and car parks, plus partnerships with Great Yarmouth Borough Council and Waveney District Council to deliver front-line services such as rubbish collections and street cleaning.

Earlier this year, 1,300 county council staff transferred across to Norse Group as a result of the county council handing the running of its residential homes to the newly-formed Norse Care group.

Mike Britch, managing director of Norse Group Ltd, said: “In commissioning this report we wanted to look at the benefits the group brings to Norfolk and beyond to help us quantify Norse’s value to the Norfolk economy. “The ongoing success of Norse in Norfolk and across the UK is down to sound management, a unique mix of public service ethos and commercial awareness and of course, our people who deserve a great deal of credit and thanks.

“While the analysis shows the huge benefits Norse Group brings to Norfolk it also highlights the scale of our operations beyond the county.

“SQW reports that for 2011/12 Norse Group delivered over £100m of services to areas outside Norfolk and estimate 56 of the jobs supported in Norfolk have been created as a result of activities in the rest of the UK.

“This is a vitally important growth area for us as we continue to develop our business from Barnsley to Devon, London to Leeds.”

The report, which will come before the council’s environment, transport and development overview and scrutiny panel next Wednesday, also states that Norse Group generates £2m a year for the council, to be ploughed back into public services.

Tony Williams, Norse Board Member and county councillor, said: “This report shows just how important Norse has become to the county of Norfolk.

“The group’s success is based on being efficient and effective and has raised also the profile of Norfolk County Council.

“The authority’s approach to trading has been held up nationally as an example of best practice by such bodies as the Local Government Association and the National Audit Office. I congratulate all concerned.”

With the county council this week announcing a review ahead of a need to plug a predicted £125m spending gap beyond 2014, Norse’s commercial expertise could play a key role as the authority looks to find ways to generate more income.

And yesterday, UNISON General Secretary Dave Prentis visited the company’s head office to sign a National Trade Union Recognition Agreement with Norse Group.

The agreement covers employment standards across the company’s numerous UK sites.

Tricia Fuller, Norse human resources director, said: “This agreement clearly demonstrates Norse’s commitment to ensuring best practice in employment terms and conditions for our rapidly increasing number of staff.

“This agreement with UNISON comes at a time when our expansion nationally is increasing dramatically and it will help reassure previous employers and their staff as to the long term security that Norse represents.”

Mr Prentis said: “I am very pleased to be in Norwich to sign this important agreement with Norse. It is a welcome demonstration of the commitment on both sides to positive, partnership working.

“Increasing numbers of workers providing public services are now employed by private companies and it’s only right that they should have the protection of a trade union.

“Norse is a major employer across the country and today’s agreement is key to boosting good employee relationships and productivity.”

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