Cambridge City Council approves shared services

Cambridge City Council has voted to share ICT and legal services with South Cambridgeshire and Huntingdonshire councils.

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Cambridge City Council has voted to share ICT and legal services with South Cambridgeshire and Huntingdonshire councils.

During a meeting on Monday, members of the strategy and resources scrutiny committee heard that the partnership could save over £500,000 on the £6.1 million the three councils currently spend on ICT every year.

A project board will now work to produce an outline business case for shared services, which will be voted on by committees in each of the councils in September.

The board will be comprised of officers from each of the councils and will receive equal funding from all three. It will also examine the potential to share further services such as HR and revenues and benefits.

Cambridge, South Cambridgeshire and Huntingdonshire currently have ‘radically different’ IT and business models, according to the report approved by councillors.

However the adoption of the Cambridgeshire Public Sector Network (PSN) and Cambridge City Council’s move onto a Microsoft suite of products, including Outlook, Exchange and Print and File, have laid the foundations for standard services on standard platforms, the report said.

The three councils already share CCTV, payroll and internal audit services.

According to the Local Government Association (LGA), sharing back office services such as IT saved English councils £75 million over the past year.

LGA figures released in May show that 96 percent of councils in England share services with other public sector organisations.

However a number of high profile local authority shared services operations have failed to meet their potential, including BirminghamAlso, a shared ICT service among councils in Cheshire in 2011 overspent by £2.45 million as opposed to projected savings of £1.5 million and led to 70 jobs being axed.

Similarly Southwest One, a controversial shared services partnership between IBM and a number of public sector bodies, has seen a number of the parties involved take services back in-house, including Taunton Deane Borough Council and Somerset County Council.

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