County to outsource IT - to its own firm
A unitary authority is to incorporate its own trading company to supply services potentially ranging from IT to legal. Shropshire council last week endorsed a plan for setting up the new company, to be known as ip&e (Group) Limited, to stand for "Inspiring Partnerships and Enterprise".
According to a press statement the "company is being developed to provide innovative new approaches, at a time of large reductions to public sector spending, to maintain both the range and quality of the services the council provides to improve the quality of life of local people, as well as to protect and grow local jobs".
A report for the Conservative-led council's cabinet stresses the need for speed in getting the venture up and running. During the process of incorporation, the council's leader will serve as sole shareholder.
The report proposes preparing full business cases for the transfer to the company of the resources and staff of Shire Services (catering, cleaning and facilities management), and Shared Support Services (finance, personneland IT), along with legal services and print services.
These service areas employ over 1,700 staff and spend £36 million a year, which would immediately make the new company one of the largest employers in Shropshire.
The council's leader, Keith Barrow, said: "These changes will benefit both current and future staff, and will create new jobs for local people which will be a big boost to Shropshire's economy. It's going to change the face of local government as we know it in Shropshire for the better. I want local people to see and feel the positive difference this will make within 12 months, as well as for years to come."
The council also announced this week that it had saved more than £500,000 by updating computer systems and technology under an ICT strategy endorsed by councillors in May 2011. Major savings (£480,000) have been made by renegotiating and ending some ICT contracts, and £38,000 has been saved from licensing costs. It also reported that successful trials have been held on mobile and flexible working.