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Big may not be beautiful, says Suffolk

Large shared services projects will not work for every local authority, according to Whitehall's new CIO John Suffolk.

Speaking at the Society of IT Management's annual conference, Suffolk said, "I would not say there is one model for all councils in all situations that says big is beautiful.

"We do have to be careful and I do not think shared services means robotic, identical services for everyone."

Next month the government will publish nine sector plans that set out how every part of the public sector should implement shared services. One of these will state how local government should share services.

Suffolk's advice appears to contradict former Whitehall CIO Ian Watmore's position on shared services. Watmore told a Socitm conference in February that, "I am less interested in one or two local authorities working together. I am interested in something on a larger scale."

More local authorities are sharing services between councils today than in February, and Suffolk welcomed the trend.

"The more we share, the better the social outcomes. If you don't need to build it yourself, don't build it," he said.

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