Hertfordshire councils merge services
Thu 01 Aug 2013
Two authorities in Hertfordshire are merging their back office services in an effort to save money.
East Herts Council and Stevenage Borough Council have agreed to have a single group handle their ICT and Print and Design work, with staff from the former authority transferring to the latter.
Tony Jackson, leader of East Herts Council, noted that the two authorities are already working successfully in partnership together following the merger of their revenues and benefits services.
As a result, he is confident that taking this approach a step further will reap additional rewards, with both bodies being able to "focus on providing first-class services to our customers while keeping back office costs to a minimum".
Councillor Sharon Taylor, leader of Stevenage Borough Council, added that if councils are to deliver "excellent frontline services" to local people, they must make sure they have "professional and resilient support services to rely on".
She stated that by working in partnership with East Herts Council, support services at both authorities will be strengthened, which in turn will ensure council tax payers get better value for money.
The decision to merge additional back office functions has been taken in the wake of extensive discussions in the last few months. Employees at both authorities have been consulted throughout and involved in the development of the business case.
Merging back office functions with neighbouring councils is becoming an increasingly popular operating method at the moment around the UK, as authorities see it as a good way to absorb public spending cuts without compromising on the quality of service delivery.
East Herts Council and Stevenage Borough Council are confident this merger will in fact increase the standard of the services it provides, as well as give them a "level of resilience" they would be unable to achieve on their own.
Joanna Bussell, head of the Local Government Team at Winckworth Sherwood, commented: "This is a terrific example of two local authorities working collaboratively to reduce back office service costs to ensure all resources are focused on delivering frontline services.
"All local authorities are under enormous pressure to continue to provide first class services at significantly reduced costs. Collaboration and, in particular, the merging of back office functions is the most effective means of reducing costs without impacting on services.
"It is also an opportunity to share expertise and best practice across local authorities, thus driving up standards generally.
"Winckworth Sherwood are advising a number of local authorities on shared service options."
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