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Council 'marriage' could save £2m

PUBLISHED: 18:00 31 March 2010 | UPDATED: 15:49 07 July 2010

Ian Clarke

Nearly £2m a year of taxpayers' money could be saved if two Norfolk councils join their staffs, according to a new report.

Nearly £2m a year of taxpayers' money could be saved if two Norfolk councils join their staffs, according to a new report.

But it could cost up to £1.7m to merge the teams at Breckland and South Norfolk and make redundancy payments to workers who lose their jobs.

The two authorities are exploring the idea a “marriage” of their services and councillors from both authorities are currently debating the pros and cons of the idea.

No decisions have yet been made but last week a joint meeting of the two scrutiny committees agreed they should push towards a preferred option of a single workforce serving both councils.

Breckland and South Norfolk have commissioned a report from outside consultants, which concludes that if the councils can save money themselves it could avoid imposed cuts from the government.

The report highlights three main options: one workforce for both councils, separate workforces but sharing some services or shared “back office” activities.

A decision on the way forward is set to be made quicker following the announcement that Breckland chief executive Trevor Holden is leaving the council to run Luton Borough Council.

A fundamental part of the shared services agenda will be how many senior managers there will be - and if there is a single chief executive, whether it will be an internal or external appointment.

The feasibility report by Sector/Solace estimates that almost £640,000 could be saved by having one chief executive, one deputy, three directors and 20 heads of service for the two councils. Currently there are a total of two chief executives, one deputy (South Norfolk does not have one), six directors and 35 heads of service.

The study says that about £920,000 a year could also be saved by sharing staff plus about £340,000 from South Norfolk joining the Anglia Revenues Partnership.

The savings would be offset by one-off transition costs for shared services of about £850,000 plus between £500,000 and £800,000 for redundancy payments.

One of the conclusions of the report says: “The combination of the two councils would make a major force in the region. Joint spending of in excess of £50m per annum and a population served of close to a quarter of a million provides the opportunity for building service delivery of even higher standard than currently.”


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