Go ahead to further develop shared working at District Council
West Oxfordshire District Council’s Cabinet has agreed a proposal to look at further developing shared working as part of a successful efficiency savings programme.
The Cabinet has given the go ahead for further joint working opportunities to be investigated, starting with proposals for a revised management structure.
Further changes will build upon the success of shared working between the Council, Cotswold District Council and other partner organisations.
So far, the arrangement between West Oxfordshire and Cotswold councils has delivered joint annual savings of around £1.4m and is on target to deliver further estimated total savings in excess of £1.6m during the current financial year.
The two councils began sharing resources in November 2008 with the appointment of a joint Chief Executive and this was shortly followed by sharing other senior management posts.
The joint working programme now also includes some service areas and some functions shared with a wider number of organisations, for example, Finance, HR, Payroll and Procurement services are delivered by a joint partnership with Cotswold, Cheltenham and Forest of Dean councils.
It is estimated that that further shared working opportunities could potentially deliver additional annual savings totalling up to £1.2m for West Oxfordshire and Cotswold district councils.
Cllr Mark Booty, Cabinet Member for Innovation with responsibility for Shared Services and the Efficiency Agenda, said: “With the substantial savings that it is bringing, shared working is enabling West Oxfordshire District Council to meet ongoing and future financial challenges as well as protecting valued, high-quality frontline services.
“We are doing this in a way that allows our Council to retain its independence and identity, which ensures the best outcome for West Oxfordshire and its residents, while working together with partner organisations to maximise mutual benefit to deliver more efficient, effective local services.”
Closer working relationships with other councils are being seen as a boost to services, bringing greater resilience and capacity. For example in Revenues and Benefits turnaround times for processing claims has improved so that now both West Oxfordshire and Cotswold councils are national leaders in terms of performance.
The Council’s 2012/13 Outturn Financial and Performance Report recognises the significant impact that shared working is having on the Council’s efficiency programme, with efficiency savings being delivered ahead of target.
During 2012/13, the Council achieved a budget underspend of more than £300,000 and a balanced budget has been presented for 2013/14, for the first time, reducing the Council’s need to use reserve funds. This has been achieved despite a Council Tax freeze for residents for the third year running.
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