Some £6.9 million in funding has been made available for local authorities that will radically overhaul how they do business through shared services.
Local government minister Brandon Lewis said that the money has been shared between 18 councils that will:
• Accelerate integration of local health care services
• Create shared finance and HR for emergency services
• Create a shared asset management company partnership
• Use service data to drive efficiency and improve delivery
Bath and North East Somerset Council have been awarded £300,000 to set up a centre sharing ICT services, whilst South Holland District Council and Breckland Council have been awarded £385,000 for a similar venture.
Lewis said that the winners of the Transformation Challenge Award have received the funding for demonstrating their ability to remain at the “cutting edge of service transformation” and will be used as working examples for the rest of the country.
For a list of the local authorities successful in winning the funding, click here. The largest sums of money (£750,000) were awarded to two shared services partnerships - one comprising Bournemouth Borough Council, Dorset County Council and Poole Borough Council, the other made up of Surrey's County Council and Fire & Rescue Authority, and East Sussex's County Council and Fire & Rescue Authority.
Establishing centres to share back office functions is a key priority for central government departments, but the agenda is also being pushed in local government in the hope that savings can be delivered.
“While councils have a vital role to play in tackling the inherited deficit, the government has always been clear councils should not close services. Instead councils should demonstrate the best in innovation and ministers will champion councils that successfully redesign services,” said Lewis.
“The tide of change that began with chief executives and sharing management teams is now going further to include shared service delivery across council boundaries. These reforms will be key to protecting services while reducing costs to the taxpayer.”
The funding made available this week pre-empts a £100 million Transformation Fund that is due to be made available in 2015, which is aimed at helping even more councils set up shared services.