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SURREY CC SUCCESSES ASSESSED

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The success that Surrey CC has achieved in reducing costs and using new techniques to deliver services is assessed ...
The success that Surrey CC has achieved in reducing costs and using new techniques to deliver services is assessed in The Independent (section 2, p15).

It is significant that the 're-engineering' of Surrey was generated by a potential defecit and that the new systems are cutting millions of pounds off the council's annual expenditure.

Among the changes brought in is the desire to rationalise the council's property portfolio and convert fixed into variable costs. The authority owns 90 office buildings but in five years this should be reduced to about 35.

Surrey has already conducted what it believes to be the largest private finance initiative contract signed by a council when it disposed of half of its residential care homes. The county has also brought libraries, adult education and youth services together, which means fewer buildings and reduced costs.

A programme of transferring ownership of community buildings is under way. A parish or town council might buy a property and residents have formed trusts to take over community centres. Grants may be obtained from the county council for running costs, and applications are encouraged from other bodies such as the lottery.

Other schemes include 'hot desking', which involves sacing space by sharing desks and facilities in open plan offices. The next plan is to create call centres, modelled on the private sector, which will cut costs and produce a more integrated service, according to Surrey.

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