Sharing back office and frontline services is a proven way to make efficiency savings, but many councils have not made any commitment to do so.
Research by the Local Government Association has revealed that out of more than 400 councils only 219 are involved in any form of sharing. Many of these councils are only sharing across quite narrow areas.
The research showed 143 councils are sharing services such as recycling and waste, I.T. and procurement and that predicted savings amount to £156.5 million. In some cases, savings will not be realised in the short term, however it is clear that the approach is delivering.
In Manchester, sharing procurement will result in 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.
Tamworth and Litchfield are 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.
The LGA are calling on councils and their partners to visit the LGA map 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.