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Bucks unitary 'would save nearly £60m'

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Savings of up to £58.3m could be achieved over five years if Buckinghamshire CC’s four district councils were scrapped to create a single unitary authority, according to a report issued by the county’s business community.

The study, which was carried out by consultancy E&Y for lobbying group Buckinghamshire Business First, estimated that savings of up to £20m per annum could be generated by a move to a single unitary county council. Once implementation costs were factored in, this would add up to £58.3m over five years, it said.

This lower expenditure could allow the new unitary to cut average council tax bills by 1%, equivalent to £13 per household per annum, according to the report, which was crowdfunded with contributions from local firms.

About half of the savings would be achieved by cutting about 270 jobs, it said. The report assumed reorganisation into a single unitary would result in 30 fewer senior executives, saving £3m.

These senior posts would include three chief executives, as Chiltern and South Buckinghamshire DCs already share chief executive Alan Goodrun.

The report also suggested an alternative plan, of reorganising the county into two unitary councils. It estimated that the savings resulting from this plan would be smaller – up to £11.1m per annum. 

Other options explored by the report include creating a single district council to run all lower-tier services, leaving the county untouched.

Responding to the report’s publication, Buckinghamshire CC leader Martin Tett (Con) said: “This impartial report clearly shows large savings can be achieved.”

But in a joint statement, the leaders of Buckinghamshire’s four districts dismissed the savings identified in the study.  

They said: “The data is by its nature historic and does not take into account the significant savings being achieved by all five authorities in the current year.”

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