The reluctance of many councils to explore the opportunities for greater efficiency through sharing back office and other services has been overcome as a result of shrinking budgets.
A survey of senior local authority managers by Browne Jacobson found that nine in ten councils are looking to share more front line services in the next two years. Almost two-thirds will target back office functions and 68 per cent front line services in the next year. Some 85 per cent of local authorities might also consider outsourcing on a service by service basis whilst 78 per cent would also consider setting up a joint venture with the private sector. Environmental and social care services are the two most popular areas where senior managers would consider sharing.
Costs savings were quoted as the key driver for those considering a move to more shared services, with 63 per cent expecting to save up to 10 per cent of their total budget savings by sharing services in the financial year ending April 2012.
But political and public opposition is seen by 28 per cent of senior managers interviewed as the biggest barrier to delivering shared services in the local government sector. That said 84 per cent of local authorities agreed that the long term rewards of shared services justified the short term pain.