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Link council funds to sharing, says CBI

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Councils’ funding should be partly tied to their progress in sharing services, the CBI has said.

It also called for “a presumption” that all district councils will fill chief executive vacancies by sharing.

The report Shared Services in Local Government (see right) argued against ‘salami slicing’ as a response to spending cuts, and said councils should instead re-engineer services and “wider adoption of shared services across local government offers one of the most compelling ways to transform services”.

Author Susan Anderson, CBI director of public services, argued there was “little justification” for each council to run its own HR, payroll, revenue and benefits or other back-office work.

The report recommended that the government should “use local authorities’ progress on shared services as evidence when deciding funding for local government”.

It also argued for sharing chief executives “given the talent pool available to smaller authorities”.

“Starting with district and borough councils, there should be a presumption that all new chief executive vacancies should be filled on a shared basis,” the report said.

Mary Orton, secretary of the Association of Local Authority Chief Executives, said: “There is absolutely no evidence that talent is in short supply in the local government sector.

“Sharing chief executives suits some district councils but by no means all of them, and it is a decision that each council should be free to make by itself, depending on its own individual circumstances.

“It is important to bear in mind that in times of financial stress, strong and effective managerial leadership is needed more than ever, and there is a real risk that shedding senior management capability can cause real problems further on down the line.”

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