6 September 1996

ADAS on track for

privatisation in 97

CONSULTANCY and research agency ADAS is on target to be privatised next year.

According to the recently-published annual review, it should be covering its costs by then – a pre-condition for privatisation.

In the year to Mar 31, 1996, total income came to £76.3m, compared with £93.6m costs. This was equivalent to an 82% cost recovery, considerably better than the 73% target.

Most of the improvement was due to the 6% fall in costs rather than any growth in income. Particular savings were made by the extension of "field-based" rather than "office-based" working practices. There were also 100 voluntary job losses, improvements in electronic communications and some local office closures.

Total staff numbers have fallen from about 2900 in 1990, when privatisation was first talked about, to 1800 last year. Over the last two years, public funding of ADAS has fallen two-thirds.

"Privatisation is expected to take place during 1997, though a firm date has not been set," said chief executive Phillip Needham. A management buy-out remains one possibility.

The government recently announced that the R&D activities, including 10 ADAS research centres, would be included in the privatisation, together with consultancy and laboratory services.n