New ways of working: councils rise to the grant reduction challenge
Reduced central government funding presented councils with the challenge to ‘do more with less’. East Midlands Councils, the East Midlands Improvement and Efficiency Partnership and Capita researched how they have delivered these savings.
We ran an e-survey of all councils. Eighty-seven projects were identified, representing seven savings categories, and 21 were selected to form a bank of detailed case studies.
A clear picture emerged that budget cuts have driven speedier project implementation. Slipped projects acquired a new sense of direction and new ideas were swiftly translated into action.
A surprising finding in the councils’ commitment to budget reduction suggests savings identified for 2011-12 exceeded the budgeted reduction for that year, giving the strongest indication yet that above-target savings are both feasible and achievable.
Our report includes many examples of projects delivering significant savings while maintaining service delivery, and in many instances improving quality.
Income generation projects highlight how imposing fees for services encourages positive behavioural change, yielding further savings.
Councils are jointly procuring to reduce costs through channels like e-auctions, shared services and region-wide contracts.
Productivity projects are reported as delivering the highest impact, focused on generating savings without affecting service levels. Many of the best ideas here are generated by frontline staff.
Infrastructure rationalisation delivers savings in accommodation by way of remote working while realising capital receipts and recurring savings in running costs.
Demand management and need analyses are widely used to identify which services can be scaled back.
Alternative delivery model projects point towards the growing prevalence of shared services/social enterprise.
Service rationalisation projects account for almost half of savings. Services most affected are street lighting, waste, and workforce change programmes.
Lessons include: collaboration is key to achieving savings with minimal negative impact; councils must build agility and resilience; analysis to select and support savings initiatives is effective; and engaging frontline staff brings the best results.
Real evidence that getting the basics right will still deliver the goods.
Carl Brooks, local government director, Capita
- Full report: eastmidlandsiep.gov.uk/emiep-publications.
- Contact Carl at firstname.lastname@example.org / 020 7901 0068
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