West Country 2020 Vision Programme incorporates four local authorities moving towards IT shared service
Four West Country local authorities are setting up a new partnership that includes joint working in IT and operational finance.
Cheltenham Borough, Cotswold, Forest of Dean and West Oxfordshire District Councils have signed up to the 2020 Vision Programme in what they believe is a first for local government in the UK.
It will involve delegating oversight of shared services and policy matters in the relevant areas, along with staffing policy, to a joint committee.
A spokesperson for the programme told UKAuthority that the IT component is scheduled to go live by April 2016 and will take the councils towards a shared service.
“Because IT is key to everything else they need to have that firmly sorted out early on,” she said.
She added that Cheltenham and Forest of Dean already share a working arrangement for IT, as do Cotswold and West Oxfordshire, so the challenge will be to bring the two agreements together.
The shared working programme will also cover public protection, building control, legal issues, property, customer services and revenues and benefits, although not all councils will necessarily be involved in each area. Further areas will be considered over the next 12 -18 with a view to setting up a jointly owned company.
2020 Vision has forecast that the deal could provide combined savings of £39 million between now and 2024, building on existing shared arrangements for HR, finance, audit and payroll.
David Neudegg (pictured), the newly appointed managing director of the partnership, said: “This is an important step along our journey to deliver an extensive range of shared services for the partner councils.
"Developing consistent policies on employment, finance and ICT provides the cornerstones for creating an agile and flexible organisation which can optimise efficiencies and effectiveness.”
The spokesperson added that the programme will be open for other local authorities to join.
Under the first phase, each council will have a lead director to take responsibility for that council’s policy, strategy and decision making processes and act as head of paid service. They will work alongside Neudegg to ensure shared working teams to comply with the agreed standards.