Five councils, separated geographically but united by their vision to deliver improved, more affordable services are set to save more than £50 million through a pioneering procurement believed to be the first of its kind in the UK.
There have been examples of councils working together to secure savings through shared contracts but this is the first time that a group of councils have looked beyond their neighbours to achieve this.
In 2014, despite being more than 85 miles apart, the councils (Hart District Council and Havant Borough Council in Hampshire, Mendip District Council in Somerset and South Oxfordshire and the Vale of White Horse District Councils in Oxfordshire) embarked on an ambitious project to consolidate their purchasing power into one entity to award contracts to deliver a suite of services on their behalves. The focus for the project was on securing better value for money services for residents.
This work culminated last night with the last of the councils agreeing to award a contract to Capita to deliver a range of corporate services including HR, IT and finance and to Vinci to provide facilities management and property services. The contracts will collectively save the councils more than £50 million over a nine year period.
As well as delivering enormous financial savings, at a time when funding streams for local councils are being tightened considerably, the new contracts are expected to improve services for residents.
The councils will be benefitting from the two companies’ extensive experience across the public and private sectors to continually review and improve services across the organisations.
In agreeing these deals the five councils have broken the mould for outsourcing with this being the first to involve councils from very different parts of the country, proving location is no longer a barrier to achieving savings if partners are committed to joint working and share the same goals. It’s a move that’s being closely observed by central government and many local authorities across the country.
Cllr Brian Burchfield, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Corporate and Customer Services at Hart District Council, said: “We in Hart have realised significant savings over the course of the last decade from outsourcing and shared services with other councils. Therefore, when the opportunity to join a group with the same mind set as ours arose, we were excited to participate. Once we analysed the impact of the savings potential, as well as an improvement to the services we deliver to our residents, we were delighted to take this opportunity forward. This is a ground breaking contract and I invite other councils across the country to come speak to us about joining our group to discover savings for themselves.”
Subject to the contracts being signed on 31 March 2016 they’re expected to start in South Oxfordshire and the Vale of White Horse in August 2016 and for the remaining councils between July and October 2017
The councils will manage the contracts through a new joint monitoring team, which will see staff from across the organisations working together. For the rest of the staff affected it could mean relocating to centres of excellence operated by the two companies in order to improve resilience in service delivery.
The councils and both companies will be providing support, advice and training to staff throughout the transition to the new contracts.