Laura Sharman 08 May 2014

Shared services working in West Suffolk says peer review

The shared service arrangement between Forest Heath District Council and St Edmundsbury Borough Council has put the two authorities in a better financial position that most, according to a peer review.

The review, conducted by the Local Government Association, found the decision to share a chief executive and streamline management has maintained service levels for residents despite saving £3.5m a year.

It also praised the West Suffolk councils for adopting a commercial approach to delivering services and successfully retaining the political independence of the two councils.

The report stated: ‘There is a clear sense of ambition for the place, and recognition that the councils must change the way they do things in order to deliver the things that matter most to local residents and businesses in the context of significantly reduced financial resources.

‘The clear understanding among frontline staff of the scale of the financial challenge still to come, was matched by an eagerness to be part of finding and delivering the solutions.’

Cllr John Griffiths, leader at St Edmundsbury, said the report shows that despite the ‘very significant change’ across both councils, they had managed to maintain standards while making savings. Leader of Forest Heath, Cllr James Waters, said the review showed the two councils are delivering more for each pound.

The two councils agreed a new shared management team, cutting seven senior jobs, back in 2012.

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