Surrey and East Sussex councils to share IT services

Surrey County Council plans to save millions of pounds by sharing services, including IT, with East Sussex County Council

Surrey County Council’s Cabinet has signed off a plan to save millions of pounds by sharing services, including IT, with East Sussex County Council.

East Sussex County Council’s executive is due to consider the plans in April. If approved, the agreement will cover services including IT, human resources, procurement and finance. Each council will take responsibility for individual IT and back-office functions.

As well as proposing to save £8m every year, the council said the combined size of the authorities will enable them to invest in technology they might not be able to afford individually. It also said the councils would be better able to attract and retain staff.

In November 2011, Surrey and East Sussex councils decided to assess the possibility of working in partnership to take advantage of more than just economies of scale and a broader skills base.

The councils initially entered into a partnership over transactional support services and IT hosting. If the new plan is approved they will develop a set of business services to both authorities, operating as one function.

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“The bringing together of services from Surrey County Council and East Sussex County Council will create sufficient scale to allow the recruitment and retention of the best staff, drive shared efficiencies and invest in new technology that might otherwise be prohibitively expensive for each organisation alone,” said a statement from Surrey County Council.

The authorities plan for more public sector organisations to join the shared service in the future.

A study, commissioned by public sector lobby group the Local Government Association and produced by consultancy Drummond MacFarlane, found five separate shared service arrangements made total savings of nearly £31m over a five-year period.

The local authorities involved include Cambridgeshire and Northamptonshire county councils; Devon and Somerset fire and rescue authority; Herefordshire Council, Herefordshire Primary Care Trust and Wye Valley NHS Trust; Procurement Lincolnshire; and Vale of White Horse and South Oxfordshire District Council.

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