Three flagship councils have today published landmark proposals for combined services in a move to protect the frontline by cutting overhead and management costs in half.

Hammersmith & Fulham Council (H&F), the Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea (RBKC) and Westminster City Council (WCC) say that combining back office and management costs will save a minimum of £35 million a year.

The three councils have to collectively save £100 million by 2014/15 on top of the £71.5 million (H&F: £27m, WCC: £21.5m, RBKC: £23 million) already identified in 2011/12.  The proposals will make a significant contribution to the future savings with around 500 posts expected to go across the three organisations, 175 being senior managers, including a chief executive post.

Council leaders say that combining services is the best way to protect frontline services and jobs in the future while improving service delivery in many areas.

A ‘Sovereignty Guarantee’ has been signed by the three councils to safeguard local autonomy, responsiveness and identity. Each of the councils will retain their own councillors and decision making processes. Services key to local areas, such as housing management, licensing and planning will be not be combined.

Cllr Sir Merrick Cockell, Leader of RBKC, said:

“Our councils remain committed to localism, with local decision making and accountability. Indeed, combining services will increase our ability to respond and engage on local issues and ensure a greater share of resources going to the vital frontline.”

Cllr Colin Barrow, leader of WCC, said:

“Councils are in the frontline of the government’s fight to deliver more effective public services and have already delivered substantial savings over the last few years. By combining a range of services and back office functions our three local authorities will be able to drive down costs even further for taxpayers while ensuring that we can continue to direct funding to the local priorities that matter most to our communities.”

Cllr Stephen Greenhalgh, Leader of H&F Council, said;

“Our taxpayers expect us to squeeze every pound and penny to reduce unnecessary costs. We are not creating one ‘super council’, we are creating three slimmer councils with combined resources and expertise. Our residents should not notice the difference except in areas such as adult social care where there will be a marked improvement because we are able to fully integrate health and social care.”

The proposals, which will be discussed at the councils’ respective cabinets over the next 12 days, starting with H&F’s Cabinet on Wednesday 16th February, recommend:

  • Reducing chief executive posts from three to two
  • Combining children’s and education services with a single director
  • Combined adult social care with a single director in charge of commissioning services. Discussions are underway with Central London Community Healthcare NHS Trust about working closely with GPs in providing integrated community health and adult social care services across the three areas.
  • Combined corporate overheads, including IT and HR.
  • Combined facilities management and dangerous structures services.
  • Other combined environmental services, initially across two boroughs in some cases, including leisure, highways, transport and parking correspondence.  The three cabinets are recommended to look at moving towards a single management team for the environment family of services in the future.

Services under consideration for future integration include customer services,  waste management, street cleaning, contingency planning, CCTV, environmental health and parks management.

If the proposals are agreed by the three respective cabinets, detailed implementation proposals will be drawn up over the next few months. The three councils are committed to full consultation and involvement with residents, staff, unions and community leaders. The implementation of proposals will be phased and carefully planned from May 2011 with long term interim appointments in key areas to provide continuity during a period of change.

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