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Redundancies likely under shared services plan

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More than 60 Oxfordshire CC staff have been placed at risk of redundancy as a result of a planned shared services partnership with Hampshire CC.

Under the plans, Oxfordshire is due to transfer most of its finance, HR and education support services to Hampshire’s integrated business centre on 1 July. Hampshire Fire and Rescue and Hampshire Constabulary are also members of the centre.

A paper to Oxfordshire’s cabinet on Tuesday said one-off transfer costs are expected to run to £6m, but the council has identified annual savings of about £1.6m from the move. It also hopes further savings will be realised over time as a result of not having to run and maintain some IT systems and as more organisations join the partnership.

Transfer costs could be reduced if some of the 64 staff at risk of redundancy can be redeployed within the organisation. Of affected staff, 11 will transfer to Hampshire, 79 have chosen not to move but 15 have so far been redeployed.

Oxfordshire decided to outsource its back-office services in 2013 via a tendering process, as part of its plan to make £290m savings by 2018. However, it opted instead to become a member of Hampshire’s shared services partnership after this was launched in spring 2014.

The cabinet paper said some services originally earmarked for transfer would not now move after preparatory work identified they “were either not undertaken by Hampshire or could not be delivered in a way that benefited Oxfordshire”.

These include strategic procurement, the HR Management Advice Team, Income for Social Care Team and some banking and accounting functions.

Rodney Rose (Con), Oxfordshire CC’s deputy leader, said: “There are a number of clear advantages to linking up with Hampshire, not least that such a public to public partnership will lead to more seamless transitions.

“This proposal will deliver the savings to provide quality back-office services for our frontline teams. There are also non-financial benefits such as the future proofing of the services in question and investment in IT by Hampshire.”

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