Hammersmith & Fulham LBC has announced details of its independent review of all tri-borough shared services, which could see it extend the sharing arrangements to more authorities.
Former transport secretary Lord Adonis (Lab) will spearhead the probe, which the council said could influence thinking on shared service models between other local authorities.
The London School of Economics professor Tony Travers and Deb Lincoln, senior vice president at Warner Bros, will also sit on the ‘critical friends board’. It will test the quality and effectiveness of the shared services and the potential to widen arrangements beyond Hammersmith & Fulham LBC, Kensington & Chelsea RBC, and Westminster City Council.
The move comes after May’s local elections saw Hammersmith & Fulham switch from Conservative to Labour control. Its new Labour leadership team announced in May that it wanted to review the tri-borough shared service arrangements as it faces a budget gap of £24.4m in 2015-16, rising to £65.3m by 2018-19.
Stephen Cowan (Lab), Hammersmith & Fulham LBC leader, said in a statement: “It is essential for councils to be more creative in the ways we look to improve services and deliver savings.”
The review will explore:
- The quality and efficiency of shared service delivery
- Areas of work that could be shared with other public bodies and organisations not covered by the tri-borough
- The scope and effectiveness of political mechanisms under bi- and tri-borough working
Last week Hammersmith & Fulham LBC’s cabinet agreed to pay Deloitte £69,000 for the review. This will rise to £138,000 should more than £1m savings to the council be identified.
Lord Adonis said: “These are tough financial times for local authorities and it is right that we look for ways to modernise services, improve outcomes and get better value for money.
“The tri-borough arrangements are innovative but it is right that, after more than two years of operation, there is an independent review. I hope that we will be able to compare and contrast with other effective organisations and offer some useful insights and proposed ways forward.”
The critical friends board is expected to publish a report in September.
The tri-borough arrangements were launched in 2011 by the three councils, which share back office and management across children’s services, adult social care, library services and public health.
Environment and leisure services, together with transport and some technical services, are combined on a bi-borough basis between Hammersmith & Fulham LBC and Kensington & Chelsea RBC.