Sharing services saved taxpayers £643 million

The latest shared services map from the Local Government Association (LGA), published today, shows that there are now 486 individual shared service arrangements across the country, resulting in £643m of efficiency savings.

Shared services are so embedded in day-to-day service delivery that they have become business-as-usual for most councils. The emphasis and focus for many now lies on improving performance and services as councils seek to respond to the needs and aspirations of their communities.

Now that councils have gained confidence in delivering shared back office functions and they are branching out to deliver essential services jointly, often beyond their historical boundaries and with partners they traditionally wouldn’t have worked so closely with, such as public sector bodies, most notably in health, the fire and rescue services and police.

For example, since January 2017 West Sussex Fire and Rescue and West Sussex County Council have been developing a co-ordination working group to look at operations across council services to enable vulnerable individuals to remain safe in their homes. The Group, which includes representatives from Libraries, Public Health, Trading Standards, Fire, Children and Adult services, is developing a pro-active and improved integrated support service to make sure resources meet the needs of local residents.

Devon and Somerset County Councils have combined their trading standards services and have made efficiency savings of more than £1 million. Joint service delivery has improved customer experience and created greater resilience in the service.

Procurement and commissioning however still generates the highest levels of savings for authorities. In 2016 the London Boroughs of Brent and Harrow combined their procurement teams to form HuB Procurement Services. This collaborative approach has delivered more than half a million pounds in savings to date.

Cllr William Nunn, Chairman of the LGA’s Improvement and Innovation Board, said: “Our latest shared services map confirms that councils are working together to successfully save money. Shared services are no longer just the realm of the most innovative councils, but rather, standard practice for councils to improve services, increase resilience and save money in times of significant change, cementing councils’ reputation as the most efficient part of the public sector.

“We’ve come to the point where best practice must move beyond councils’ boundaries and start permeating the public sector. There is much to be learnt about how to deliver more efficient and effective services through greater collaboration and councils are ready and waiting to share their knowledge.”

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