Friday 3rd March, 2017
Five councils in the south of England, not all geographical neighbours, are planning to sign a contract with Capita to run services including IT, HR and finance in a move that has already tested their ability to speak with one voice, and will demand some shifts in thinking to ensure it works to everyone's benefit.
South Oxfordshire, Vale of White Horse, Mendip and Hart District Councils are joining Havant Borough Council in a nine-year deal with an estimated value of £139 million and projected savings of at least £50 million.
Subject to the contracts being signed on 31 March, the first two are expected to come into effect in August, with the others set to follow between July and October of next year.
The Capital deal will all run alongside an additional contract with Vinci for facilities management and property services.
Brian Burchfield, Hart's deputy leader, says: “Once we analysed the impact of the savings potential, as well as an improvement to the services we deliver to our residents, we were delighted to take this opportunity forward. This is a ground breaking contract and I invite other councils across the country to come speak to us about joining our group to discover savings for themselves.”
The deal has its roots in an earlier arrangement, dating back 10 years, in which South Oxfordshire and Vale of White Horse have shared services from Capita for functions such as council tax and housing benefit. This has worked well enough for the two councils to have gone looking for partners in a wider shared service, with the view that they did not have to be the authorities next door.
“The innovation this time around is not just there are several councils joining up, but that they are geographically separate. One of the arguments councils put up for not sharing services is that they ask their nearest neighbours and they're not interested, so they say they can't do shared services.
This project demonstrates that you don't need to be near each other to set up, and if it succeeds no council in the country that can say it would like to share services but can't find a willing partner near by. You won't need to be near by.