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Shared services now nearly universal

28/04/14

Latest figures from an authoritative annual survey show that sharing services is now all but universal in local authorities, with 96% of of councils now taking part in some kind of sharing. The total saved by councils sharing their services has increased by £83 million since last year to £357 million, the latest shared services map from the Local Government Association (LGA) shows. The map shows 337 councils engaged in 383 shared service arrangements.

According to figures reported to the association, more than £11 million was saved by councils sharing services and management with other public sector organisations, particularly in the health sector. In environment, waste and transport, savings added up to £84 million and £75 million of savings come from back office shared services such as legal, audit and HR. The biggest increases last year were in adult services and culture, leisure and tourism.

Shared service arrangements are growing fastest in London and the south-east with an increase of 26 and 37 arrangements respectively in the past 12 months. For example, Havering and Newham councils have brought together 21 separate support services, including HR, payroll, IT, legal services and asset management, and 1,350 staff together into a new single shared service called oneSource. Setting up oneSource will allow the two councils to save over £40million in the next five years.

The shared services information appears in an interactive map on the LGA¹s website, which councils can use to develop shared services.

Cllr Peter Fleming, chair of the LGA¹s Improvement and Innovation Board, said: "The interactive map demonstrates the range and scale of service sharing by councils, and this year shows services shared with other public sector bodies too. However, while savings from sharing services are now worth more than a third of a billion pounds, they do not match the scale of the 40% cuts to local government during the life of this parliament.

"Even despite the massive cuts local government has faced, it has continued to be the most efficient part of the public sector and councils have worked hard in the face of this to deliver vital services. As councils continue to explore ways to share services and provide the taxpayer with value for money, we are optimistic other areas of the public sector will be inspired by the shared services map and follow the example set by local government.

The map is at:www.local.gov.uk/shared-services-map

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