Login Register
 °

Cross-council IT merger puts 170 Devon jobs at risk

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: February 14, 2013

  • Plymouth Civic Centre

Comments (7)

Four Westcountry councils are targeting an ambitious plan to merge their IT services and systems which, it is claimed, could save the public purse £16 million over 10 years.

Plymouth City Council is working with East Devon District Council, Exeter City Council and Teignbridge District Council to create a new "joint venture company" to integrate their technology.

First steps towards that goal, which would affect 170 staff at the authorities, have already been approved by Plymouth, Exeter and East Devon while councillors at Teignbridge will discuss the matter later today.

An initial £85,000 is needed from the four authorities to produce a full business case, which is expected in June.

If agreed, the set-up costs of the new company, which would be solely owned and controlled by the councils, is estimated at £1.2 million with the money being recouped within two years.

Plymouth City Council's deputy leader, Peter Smith, said: "When all councils are faced with making similar budget cuts it makes sense to look at options where we can deliver back-office services together. Shared services is an option we are looking into which could potentially save money which could otherwise be needed in other areas such as services for vulnerable adults and children."

In the next financial year, the quartet will spend some £11.8 million on IT services. The working title for the new company is Delt – the Danish word for shared – Service Limited. While some of the 170 current staff jobs could be put at risk, a report to the city council's cabinet said there were other areas where greater savings could be made.

"The exciting aspect of this shared service proposal is that over 50% of the current costs are used for supplies and services/contract spend rather than predominately from employee expenditure, which is usual in most local authority back office functions," it said.

"The major benefit of this is that by joining together it will open up a far greater opportunity than was previously thought in driving through savings by contract negotiation and system consolidation. There is a much greater potential therefore to generate savings outside of employee spend."

Unions though have cautioned against over-optimism with Nigel Costley, secretary of the South West TUC, pointing to the example of the public-private partnership Southwest One in Somerset.

It was set up in 2007 between Somerset County Council, Avon and Somerset Police, Taunton Deane Borough Council and IBM to provide backroom services. But in its first five years, it had only saved £10 million of the £50 million originally projected.

"The experience in Somerset has not been good and elsewhere it has been mixed," Mr Costley said. "Unions will be negotiating with each of the authorities not just to make sure employment is secure but primarily to ensure the public service they deliver is maintained."

Read more from Torquay Herald Express

Do you have something to say? Leave your comment here...

max 4000 characters

7 comments

  • Dazplym  |  February 14 2013, 9:24PM

    You can guarantee that our inept council will allow all the jobs to go to Exeter. Just so they can earn even more money for themselves.

    |   -2
  • stevie1977  |  February 14 2013, 4:49PM

    Oh sweet Jesus, imagine the uproar when the council send Plymouth jobs up the A38 just to save a few £££! You just know its gonna happen!!

    |   3
  • EdnaFruitcake  |  February 14 2013, 3:27PM

    If the councils want something they will freely exaggerate the benefit it will bring. We had a balloon in Torquay that was going to be a bird laying golden eggs, it made a loss and left owing rent. In any othet sector it would be called lying, but councils live by other rules, usually rules they make up as they go along.

    |   6
  • jambon1  |  February 14 2013, 2:38PM

    Where will these consolidated jobs be? Probably Exeter.

    |   6
  • Sue002  |  February 14 2013, 12:46PM

    Most of these Councils struggle with very simple issues! You just have to know this will be a real White Elephant that does not accomplish the end goal shall go way over budget and basically never work as intended.

    |   7
  • Kirton1  |  February 14 2013, 12:29PM

    Yes, what a good idea. If the councils join together to combine services and also save money which this country do not have. Maybe if all councils from Plymouth, Torbay, Teignbridge, Torridge, Mid Devon, Exeter, East Devon, South Hams, North Devon, West Devon took part it would save even more money, from IT, education, social services, etc. etc. What a good idea, maybe we should call this 'Devon County Council' ! Surely this makes sense, as every department has a head on silly money, just consolidate the lot back under Devon County for savings, as we all know Plymouth and Torbay have been struggling under their own rule. Apparently Plymouth and Torbay do not have the expertise to carry out alot of work anyway, and sub-contract this back to Devon County Council anyway. Although keep local needs and planning local, just without the heads of department, as you would still have local councillors. Devon should follow the example of Cornwall, one council for all, its been done in the past and needs to be done again, as the current structure costs so much in administration. The previous governmant loved there red tape obstructions, and jobs for the boys !

    |   9
  • wiscot  |  February 14 2013, 10:13AM

    What an excellent idea! But how long has it taken these bureaucrats to recognise the economies of scale? All local authorities provide similar services. There must be countless opportunities to join forces to reduce costs on other services but still retain a separate identity for each council.

    |   17

      YOUR COMMENTS AWAITING MODERATION

       
       
       

      MORE NEWS HEADLINES