Efficiency in 2011: a round-up
The top 10 key features from 2011.
On 21 December, the Department for Communities and Local Government announced that 14 areas were to be awarded a space in the community budget pilot scheme, in the “whole place” areas of Greater Manchester, Cheshire West and Chester, West London and Essex. In terms of efficiency, the scheme will supposedly allow “councils, boroughs [and] neighbourhoods [to] team up with all public services in their patch to combine resources into a single locally coordinated ‘pool and save’ pot with greater local control of improved services for local people”.
Luton Borough Council and Civica agreed a partnership in an efficiency drive as part of a broader programme to deliver cost savings in total of £12.6m. Luton Borough Council agreed to outsource its ICT services through a partnership agreement set up with the Luton Learning and Community Partnership (LLCP) through which, Civica, a market leader in specialist IT systems and business process services, will provide ongoing support to the Council.
As local government underwent major changes which would impact upon its role, responsibilities, business model and finances, did this denote a significant shift in the traditional risk profile of each and every local authority?
The outsourcing of expertise by councils in the delivery of public services was addressed by The Guardian’s Hannah Fearn as a practice which “raises ethical and legal questions.”
“Most projects fail due to mistakes in managing people, power and politics,” wrote The Guardian’s Dominic Macdonald-Wallace, as he explained what could be learned from the 60-70% of private sector shared services projects that fail to deliver on expectations and how the public sector - as it seeks efficiencies in tough financial times - can avoid the pitfalls.
Can shared services work in local government? Are they the future for local government? The Guardian’s live discussion delivered invaluable insight from Donal Hegarty, senior commissioning manager in adult social care at Surrey county council, Professor John Seddon, lead consultant at Vanguard, Michael Patterson, director of Support Solutions, Daria Kuznetsova, a researcher at the New Local Government Network and Tom Riordan, chief executive of Leeds city council.
A body of case law helped local authorities to overcome some of the legal barriers to shared IT services, “allow[ing] councils to work together without fear of falling foul of procurement law.”
“No longer the primary providers of public services, councils could retain their role by shaping communities”, wrote The Guardian’s Rosie Niven.
“It’s time to look beyond the back office in the search for savings through sharing,” said David Rees, head of local government services at PA Consulting Group as he posed four key questions that he stated “local authorities need to answer if they are to succeed” in efficiency drives.
The Local Government Association gave details of a drastically narrowed productivity programme aimed at delivering savings for the sector.
The work - which originally consisted of nine separate ‘workstreams’ - was reduced to three, with members hopeful of securing “big wins” in the procurement of capital assets; the delivery of children’s and adults’ services; and the development of new ways of delivering services and arranging organisations.
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