The big savings that can come from shared and common services

Short of amalgamation, there are still big cost savings for governments and agencies in shared services. One UK local government leader explains the reward can be worth the significant pain.

There are too many public sector organisations in the United Kingdom. Most, like my two district councils, were designed in the early 1970s, when the physical size of paper databases and armies of clerks limited organisational reach.

Therefore, two major tiers of councils were created in England — 45 county councils and 296 district councils — all with chief executives, workforces, civic offices and other duplicated costs.

Since then the world has been transformed by technological advances. Not least the development of micro computers, global databases, email and the internet. Plus “lean” business process re-engineering and HR/management techniques have evolved to promote increasingly efficient organisational practices.

The result is that a handful of organisations could now provide all the local government services to England more economically and more effectively. The annual saving to the UK taxpayer would run into billions of dollars, which could be re-directed into higher priority services such as health or international aid.

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