Sharing Roles to Save the Front Line

The Evening Standard (London, England), February 20, 2012 | Go to article overview

Sharing Roles to Save the Front Line


Byline: Niki Chesworth

[bar] ATHER than cutting the jobs of 10 frontline workers on [pounds sterling]20,000 a year, organisations could save as much by simply combining the roles of two senior staff on [pounds sterling]200,000 a year.

While it may seem like common sense to cut one fat cat salary to save 10 jobs, it is not something you would expect to be a reality in many big institutions. However, cutting senior management and back office staff to preserve frontline services is happening across London's boroughs.

For example, Hammersmith & Fulham and Kensington and Chelsea now have a "bi-borough" joint chief executive which will save the two authorities [pounds sterling]200,000 a year as part of [pounds sterling]1 million of executive salary savings.

It is an example of the many collaborative initiatives now in place across the capital where London's boroughs have been able to combine a range of services to cut costs, improve efficiency and preserve as many jobs as possible.

Combining library services, joint procurement initiatives, legal services and even London-wide recruitment services are all examples of how London's boroughs are working together. Westminster, Hammersmith & Fulham and Kensington and Chelsea have combined a range of services including libraries in a bid to cut [pounds sterling]3.2 million this year and more than [pounds sterling]33 million across the three authorities by 2014/15.

There will be joint management teams running adult, children's and library services and two of the boroughs also share some environmental services. Twenty London councils recently announced a framework contract for back-office services including finance, procurement, HR and payroll, and e-Sourcing.

The London Boroughs Recruitment Partnership, which now has the majority of councils in the capital working together, is another example of how collaboration can cut costs.

"This project does not necessarily reduce staff numbers, but it does provide economies of scale through joint strategic procurement," says Dean Shoesmith, executive head of HR at the boroughs of Sutton and Merton.

Shoesmith is proof of how these efficiencies work in practice, given his role and the HR function is shared by two London boroughs.

"There was a vacant head of HR in Merton and I was head of HR in Sutton so two jobs were combined into one," he says. "So that saved one salary. Combining roles in the back office, management and administration is a good way of creating further efficiencies and it means that while some less visible roles are lost, more of those in frontline services can be saved.

"Joint procurement also means councils can get a better rate in the market for things like recruitment services because together we represent bigger business and we can invite tenders from the private sector, achieving improved economies. Sharing procurement has cut costs by around [pounds sterling]1 million to [pounds sterling]1.5 million a year since 2006."

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