One Man's Poll Tax Bonanza

By Blackhurst, Chris | Management Today, July 1992 | Go to article overview

One Man's Poll Tax Bonanza


Blackhurst, Chris, Management Today


Rod Aldridge's former employer Cipfa must be feeling sick. The business it sold him for 340,000 [pounds] in 1987 is now worth 50 million [pounds].

Plenty of businessmen have a lot to thank Mrs Thatcher for but none more so than Rod Aldridge. Capita, the management services group he started in a management buy-out worth 340,000 [pounds] in 1987, specialises in telling the public sector how to operate more efficiently. Today his business has a stock market value of 50 million [pounds]. In just five years, Aldridge, aged 45, who joined his local council in East Sussex as a trainee in the treasury department, has become a multi-millionaire.

What began as a company specialising in helping local councils run their computers has branched out into poll tax collection, assisting council departments in their own buy-outs, producing Birmingham council's free newspaper, overseeing the installation of the engineering facilities in the 50-million [pounds] redevelopment of Leeds infirmary, chasing up people who have not renewed TV licenses and selling personalised number plates on behalf of the DVLA in Swansea.

The group, which employed only 30 people and made profits of under 400,000 [pounds] in 1987, now has a workforce of 550 and should break the 4-million [pounds] profits barrier this year. Much of the growth has come from acquisition. But for his best deal Aldridge is torn between the management buy-out and teaming up with British Telecom to develop a computer facilities management centre.

After qualifying as a public finance accountant, it was Aldridge's ultimate aim to become treasurer of a large local authority. But in 1972 he gave up the town hall treadmill and went to work for Cipfa, the public finance accountants' professional body. There he began to build up an array of local government contacts. Cipfa drew its revenue from members' subscriptions and anything else it could raise. Aldridge's task was to provide that extra slice of income.

In 1979, with local authorities putting their services out to tender, he set up a team to help guide them through the maze of new legislation. By 1984, the advice had moved on to putting the law into practice. |All the authorities woke up to the fact that they needed computer systems to help them do their work,' he says. Aldridge persuaded Cipfa to allow him to form CCS (Cipfa Computer Services), a specialist computer consultancy. …

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