A Brief History of SSSP Consultants Ltd.
By 1992 I had been a civil servant for almost twenty years and, before that, a local government officer. Throughout the whole of that time my professional background and raison d'etre was social work and services. I had been thinking for some time that I should break out of the public service strait jacket and try something completely different. But I enjoyed what I was doing and was, by my own standards, well paid. To abandon all that to an uncertain future seemed perverse. So I created a fantasy future! There was a general election coming up which, everyone knew, would be won by Labour led by Neil Kinnock. The prospect of another worn out Conservative Government led by an equally worn out John Major appalled many of us so I announced rather grandly that, in that unlikely event, I would be off.
I woke on the morning of 9th April 1992 with a terrible hangover, a newly elected Conservative Government and a decision to make. But by 1st January 1993 I had resigned my post and Social Services Strategic Planning was born. At first it was a corporate title to describe what I planned to be doing. Much of the early work I did falls within that broad description and almost all of it came from personal contacts.
At first the corporate title was irrelevant. People hired me because they knew me and I worked exclusively in Wales, where I had been for the previous 14 years, during my first independent year and a half. Then two things happened in rapid succession which turned my world upside down and thrust commercial reality and survival in my face for the first time.
The source agency of over 50% of my work was heavily criticised by its auditors for not being competitive enough in the way it allocated external contracts. They took such fright that for a year after that they reduced contracting to an essential minimum and either did the kind of work I had been doing in-house or simply didn't do it at all. I had one small job from them during the whole year.
Almost at the same time a then very influential figure in my field was very angry that I had agreed to do some work for the district councils in Wales in the run up to local government reorganisation there. And there may have been another agenda of punishment for things I had done while I had been a civil servant too. He never said it to me but I heard from several sources that he said to others I would never work in Wales again. True or not all local government work promptly dried up. Isn't this an abuse of public office? Of course it is but that too is one of the commercial realities; and proving such things has never been easy. Two very lean years followed during which I survived on a shoestring but gradually the corporate identity of Social Services Strategic Planning began to take hold. We went into publishing and I went into writing. We were also among the first working with the public sector to go on line. This web site is over twelve years old, much older than the BBC, the Government and local authority web sites and the great majority of commercial ones.
Over the next couple of years Social Services Strategic Planning changed from being a corporate window dressing for the work of one person to becoming the front end of a consortium of colleagues working together in shifting partnerships on a variety of topics for different clients.
As the teams became more generic and multi-skilled the title began to seem too narrowly defined. We were beginning to bid for work in related fields and "social services" had to be repeatedly explained. So we became first SSSP Consultants then SSSP Consultants Ltd.
Since 2005 SSSP Consultants Ltd. has ceased bidding for large contracts under its own name, largely because it no longer needs to do so. I provide analysis and strategic support especially to developing public/third sector/commercial partnerships almost always as part of a larger team; and I sometimes help identify others whom I know and trust with related skills. The company provides the commercial and contractual infrastructure. If you hire me the invoices will come from SSSP Consultants Ltd. but the work will be done by me personally.