Leicestershire County Council and Nottingham City Council have signed an innovative partnership deal that will save more than £2 million per year. The two authorities have agreed to pool administrative functions, including human resources, payroll and finance services, in the first step of a new East Midlands Shared Services centre, which could attract other authorities.
It is believed to be the first such deal involving a county council and a city council from another area. Leicestershire County Council leader David Parsons says:
“In these challenging times, our innovative agreement shows how authorities can achieve real savings by working together. Every pound we save is a pound that we don’t have to take away from the frontline. I would encourage other authorities in the Midlands to consider joining us and achieve benefits themselves.”
Communities and Local Government Secretary Eric Pickles welcomed the news. He says:
"This is exactly the sort of innovation that will help councils to protect hardworking families and the most vulnerable. By sharing back office services, they'll be able to protect the frontline – and even improve the choice and services that are on offer to local residents.
"We're supporting these sorts of moves by giving unprecedented freedom and flexibility to councils to make their own choices, funding a council tax freeze, and calling time on the bureaucratic red tape and pointless form filling that has hampered councils for so long.
"Sharing services is just one of the options open to councils to ensure they are making the most of every pound they have – alongside moves to become more transparent, improve procurement and cut out waste."
The shared services deal is scaleable, which means it can be expanded to offer comparable savings if other authorities decide to join. Nottingham City Council has been looking for some time at how it can make savings by working in partnership and has discussed the possibility of joint working arrangements with a number of councils. The partnership with Leicestershire is the first direct arrangement to be set up.
Leicestershire County Council is already working with Leicester City Council on a shared internal audit service and with Charnwood Borough Council for HR services, which would also offer county council staff hot-desking facilities at Charnwood’s HQ.
Leicestershire County Council is also looking to work more closely with other public bodies, through the new community budgets scheme and the multi-area agreement and it is part of a public service board, to pool expertise.