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Scotland's shared services at risk of failure

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Unless Scotland’s shared services are part of a strategy to improve public services rather than cut costs, they risk wasting public money, Unison warned today.

The union points to examples in Wisconsin, USA, and Western Australia, which it says have suffered from a huge list of problems.

Unison’s Scottish organiser Dave Watson said: “There is now clear evidence that shared services need to be properly planned and have clear and achievable goals if they are to deliver the efficiencies that are often claimed for them.”

Western Australia

Widely hailed as a great success by the previous Scottish government, the scheme has been heavily criticised in a report by their auditor general. The programme is two years late and likely to be millions of dollars over budget.


Public sector bodies in Wisconsin have also found shared service projects fail to live up to their promise. Problems include contracts cancelled under suspicion of fraud, technical delays and companies failing to keep to their contracts.

Scotland’s problem ‘lack of strategy’

The union still backs shared services where aims are improvement in service delivery - not just cost savings - and says that a problem in Scotland is the lack of a clear strategy.

Mr Watson said: “The last consultation on shared services never delivered any strategic framework. The lack of any clear strategy has led to lots of different authorities taking different paths, with different aims.”

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