Company Sale Brings Merton Council Huge Windfall

Compliance and risk management operation sold to an American firm

CHAS's services include advice to the construction industry. Picture: CHAS/Facebook

June 1, 2023

Merton Council has revealed it made more than £185million from selling off a company it has owned since 1997.

Earlier this year the sale of Contractors Health & Safety Assessment Scheme (CHAS) was completed by the borough after being given the green light in November 2022. The full details of the sale have now been published in the council’s annual accounts.

CHAS is a compliance and risk management company that represents more than 30,000 contractors and has worked with more than 2,500 clients. It was set up in 1997 and incorporated as a Council owned company in 2013.

It has been sold off to American firm Veriforce for £185.6million. This money can’t be used by the council for the day to day running of services but can be used for one-off investments and “capital projects” like building new infrastructure.

The council is set to use £50million of the cash to pay off half of its debt, which mainly includes government loans. While £75million will be used for building new council houses, investment into town centres and new sporting facilities.

The council also plans to invest some of it into “low-risk investment schemes” in a bid to bring in more money for the local authority.

Council Leader Ross Garrod said, “With government funding cuts now an annual event, it is more important than ever that we spend this money wisely – especially as it can only be spent once. That’s why we are prioritising paying down debt and making sound investments which will help us save money and generate income to reduce the impact of cuts from Westminster to council services.

“In the longer term, we will be earmarking around £75million to be used for major new projects in the borough – including building the first council homes in Merton in a generation, breathing new life into our town centres, and delivering new sporting and leisure facilities as part of our ambition to become London’s Borough of Sport.”

Tara O'Connor, Local Democracy Reporter