Council services sharing saves £350m

Published on Monday, 28 April 2014 11:52
Written by Govtoday staff

More than a third of a billion pounds of taxpayers' money has been saved by councils sharing services such as adult social care, the delivery of special educational needs and back office support, with 96% of councils now taking part in some kind of sharing, town hall leaders have revealed.

The total saved by councils sharing their services has increased by £83m since last year, the latest shared services map from the Local Government Association (LGA) shows. There are now 337 councils engaged in 383 shared service arrangements, resulting in £357m of efficiency savings.

Some 96% of councils now share services with other local authorities and public sector bodies. This year's shared services map shows more than £11m was saved by councils sharing services and management with other public sector organisations, particularly in the health sector. 2014 is the first year external collaboration has been recorded on the map.

There have been £84m of savings from environment, waste and transport, while £75m of savings come from back office shared services such as legal, audit and HR (£75m). The biggest increases last year were in adult services and culture, leisure and tourism.

Shared service arrangements are growing fastest in London and the south-east with an increase of 26 and 37 arrangements respectively in the past 12 months. For example, Havering and Newham councils have brought together 21 separate support services, including HR, payroll, ICT, legal services and asset management, and 1,350 staff together into a new single shared service called oneSource. Setting up oneSource will allow the two councils to save over £40m in the next five years with the savings being used to protect both councils' frontline services for residents.

The two councils see oneSource as a model for public sector shared services in the future and hope to gain more customers in all types of public service.

The shared services information is contained in an interactive map on the LGA's website, which councils can use to develop shared services.

Cllr Peter Fleming, chair of the LGA's improvement and innovation board, said: "At a time when local government funding has seen huge cuts, it is positive to see how much councils have saved taxpayers by sharing services and how many councils have adopted this approach. Over the past year, the amount saved by sharing services has increased by £83m, to £357m, an increase which demonstrates the extent to which councils have taken sharing services on board.

"The interactive map demonstrates the range and scale of service sharing by councils, and this year shows services shared with other public sector bodies too. However, while savings from sharing services are now worth more than a third of a billion pounds, they do not match the scale of the 40% cuts to local government during the life of this parliament.

"Even despite the massive cuts local government has faced, it has continued to be the most efficient part of the public sector and councils have worked hard in the face of this to deliver vital services. As councils continue to explore ways to share services and provide the taxpayer with value for money, we are optimistic other areas of the public sector will be inspired by the shared services map and follow the example set by local government."

Source: LGA

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