Interactive map shows councils are saving millions

Published on Thursday, 01 December 2011 10:46
Posted by Scott Buckler

An investigation by the Local Government Association has found that shared services are delivering savings of £156.5 million to the taxpayer.  Across England alone, 219 councils are sharing services, such as recycling and waste, I.T. and procurement, to achieve these savings

The nationwide study showed that there are 143 examples of councils working together, which have now been plotted on an interactive map.  63 of the savings have come from sharing corporate functions, such as I.T. and payroll.

The predicted saving from the shared services projects comes on top of various measures already introduced by councils.  Since 2005, councils have been finding billions of pounds worth of savings, including £1.7 billion in 2008-09 and £4.8 million every day in 2009-10.

Faced with significant budget cuts, councils have been looking to find new ways of saving money.  In some cases, savings will not be realised in the short term, however it is clear that the approach is delivering.  For example, councils in Manchester shared some of their procurement, leading to savings of £18.5 million.

District councils came out on top in the investigation, with 99 of the 143 examples being led by them.  Indeed the study found that similar councils, for example a county council with another, were best prepared to share services together.

The LGA are calling on councils and their partners to visit the map at http://www.local.gov.uk/big-win-future-ways-of-working before starting their own new shared services.  This will allow them to discover if there are any existing arrangements in their area which they can join with or learn from.

Some of the examples on the map include:

 

  • Association of Greater Manchester Authorities (AGMA) sharing procurement of goods and services, which has saved £18.5 million so far. This approach targeted existing AGMA contracts to find savings.
  • Tamworth and Litchfield sharing the management and communication of waste services, which is saving £1 million per year.  This new approach also led to much greater customer satisfaction through clearer information being passed on.  This also brought benefits to the environment, through lower emissions and improved recycling rates.
  • Hammersmith & Fulham, Westminster and Kensington & Chelsea are merging a variety of services to avoid making reductions to frontline services.  This approach has included children's services, corporate services and adult social care.  Savings of £33 million per year by 2015 are anticipated.


Cllr Ruth Cadbury, Deputy Chair of the LGA's Improvement Board commented:

"Councils are the most trusted and efficient part of the public sector, outperforming the rest of Whitehall, despite the challenging financial situation.

"These innovative approaches to delivering services have resulted in millions of pounds worth of savings, which otherwise could have affected frontline services.

"However, it's not a case of one size fits all.  Each council must consider its local needs and also the fact that it may have a different structure to others.  For example, our results found that district councils were very effective at sharing services with other districts.

"Whilst they are not a silver bullet to the financial difficulties that councils face, shared services are one way in which town halls are saving money to maintain high quality services for residents."

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