Cambridge City Council to decide on shared services

Councillors at Cambridge City Council will discuss sharing ICT and legal services with South Cambridgeshire and Huntingdonshire councils this evening.

Sharing services could save the three councils 'hundreds of thousands of pounds', Cambridge City’s strategy and resources scrutiny committee will be told.

“With a 40 percent reduction in government core funding for the council we have to find ways of making further savings for at least the next four years,” said Cambridge City Council’s leader, Lewis Herbert.

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 BirminghamA 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.

Cambridge City Council, South Cambridgeshire and Huntingdonshire councils already share CCTV, payroll and internal audit services.

All three currently have different IT and business models but the adoption of the Cambridgeshire Public Sector Network (PSN) and Cambridge City Council’s move onto a Microsoft suite of products have laid the foundations for standard services on standard platforms according to the report to be considered this evening.

If the proposals are approved, a project board will produce an outline business case by September.

The project board, equally funded by the councils, will also examine the potential to share additional services such as HR and revenues and benefits.

Cambridge City Council said sharing services will include benefits such as “reduced management costs, increased resilience and retention of staff, procurement savings and opportunities to generate income,” in addition to saving money.

Copyright © 2014 IDG Communications, Inc.

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