Sharing services is delivering savings
Sharing services with neighbouring councils is bringing substantial savings for West Oxfordshire District Council and a vital part of the Council’s efficiency programme, which so far has delivered £2.1m savings in total.
The efficiency programme has now been give a further boost with councillors agreeing more shared working and joint posts with neighbouring Cotswold District Council.
IT services are set to amalgamate with development towards a single service starting in January 2012. From April there will be a shared legal services team servicing both councils and joint senior management and officer posts agreed are a Strategic Director for Environment, Head of Customer Services and Principal Engineer.
Early in 2012, the Council will also take another step forward towards the integration of ‘back office’ functions with the launch of the first phase of a new shared system for finance, procurement, human resources and payroll.
Designed to streamline processes and save money, this system, known as the GO (Gloucestershire / Oxfordshire) programme is a joint project with three other councils Cotswold, Forest of Dean and Cheltenham. Two other organisations Cheltenham Borough housing association and a Cheltenham /Cotswold environmental service company are also part of GO.
Cllr Mark Booty, Cabinet Member for Change, Improvement and Efficiency said, “Four years ago, staff and councillors took on the challenge to make large-scale efficiency savings without major cutbacks to council services.
“The synergy of working with other councils is helping achieve this as we continue to uphold delivery of high quality services with reduced staffing costs and fewer resources. All this has been achieved incredibly well without any negative impact to services and without any increases in council tax charges.”
Shared working with Cotswold District Council first started in November 2008 with the appointment of David Neudegg as Joint Chief Executive. This was followed by sharing the Strategic Director or Resources and other senior management and officer posts.
In addition to shared working and joint posts, both councils are benefitting through sharing skills and knowledge.
The savings being made show how much shared working is benefitting West Oxfordshire and how far it has developed since the Council first started an efficiency programme four years ago. In addition to shared working, efficiency measures have included improved procurement and major re-contracts, including the new waste and recycling service introduced in November 2010.
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