Northamptonshire County Council approves extensive outsourcing deal

Northamptonshire County Council approves an outsourcing plan that could move 95% of core staff to external suppliers

Northamptonshire County Council has approved an outsourcing plan that could move 95% of its core staff to suppliers.

In December 2014, Northamptonshire County Council’s revealed its plan to reduce its in-house workforce from 4,000 to 150 over the next five years, as it moves to an outsourced model for all council services including IT.

According to the Northampton Chronicle & Echo, the council will outsource services to mutual companies over the next five years.

The local authority will become a much smaller organisation and will commission others to provide services. It will be known as the Northamptonshire County Council Group.

Cabinet member for finance, councillor Bill Parker, said: “What this budget does is make sure that, while longer term plans for total transformation of services are developed, we continue in our work to protect those front-line and critical services, despite the significant amount of budget reductions we are having to implement.”

Keeping expertise in-house

He said the transformation is required given substantial budget cuts. “When you are taking this sort of money out of services, you have to make tough decisions which we know will not be popular.” The council expects its budget to fall £81m in the next five years and the cost of services to increase by £99m in the same period.

In December 2014, Northamptonshire County Council CEO Paul Blantern said there would be minimal redundancies, as most employees will be transferred to contractors.

The 150 remaining in-house workers at Northamptonshire County Council will include those working in business intelligence and market development teams. One former IT head in local government told Computer Weekly it is important that councils retain some IT experience. 

“It is unlikely that you would see all IT outsourced, because you do not want to outsource your ability to plan for the future of IT,” he said.

The research of 267 council CEOs, carried out by the Local Government Journal and Hay group, revealed 51% of councils intend to outsource more, compared with 10% in 2013. 

Other findings of the research found 7% of council CEOs think their organisations would outsource all their services in the future, with the council itself the provider of last resort. Some 5% of CEOs said they expected the council to outsource between 80% and 100% of its services by 2020, while 16% said their authority would bring more services in-house.

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