Joint working: Chiltern and South Bucks councils

In 2012 Chiltern District Council and South Bucks District Council made a commitment to make progress together and put in place a shared senior management team to create savings, improve resilience and provide better services to the public. 

Efficiency and income generation

Both Councils were used to working together, had long standing partnerships and broadly similar characteristics and needs, with the shared imperative to save money. 

What followed was a programme (“phase 2”) to integrate services and form a single delivery organisation whilst at the same time identifying improvements, new ways of working and a culture of continuous improvement. 

Central to this programme was a series of shared service reviews, delivered internally, based on a Customer Centric Change Framework. 

This case study highlights the achievements and lessons learned from the joint working between Chiltern District Council and South Bucks District Council. 

The Inter-authority Agreement, agreed by the Councils in January 2012 set the following objective for phase two of its transformation programme. 

“To examine the opportunities for further savings by the joining together of services, assets, officer posts and officer teams”. 

One of the principles of the Inter-authority agreement was that: 

“Services and assets will be considered for sharing in Stage Two of the arrangements where there is a robust Business Case for doing so and where the proposed shared arrangements are politically and economically viable”. 

The Joint Committee and Management Team also set the objectives for shared services to deliver in three areas, savings, resilience and service quality. 

Achievement against phase 2 objectives (outcomes & timescales) 

Outcomes: By January 2017, 19 services have been reviewed with business cases and shared service designs reported to and agreed by the Joint Committee. The Councils are now served by an almost complete platform of shared services. The only shared service yet to be implemented is Planning Services and this is already underway. 

Timescales: The programme of shared service reviews commenced in October 2012. The original objective was to conclude the programme of reviews by summer 2015. The last shared service review, Planning Services, reported to the Joint Committee in January 2017. 

The pace of the programme was affected by: 

• The internal capacity to deliver the reviews in house 

• The requirement for significant staff engagement 

• Allowing for the identification of improvements and new ways of working 

• The capacity of Support Services to support implementation 

• The requirement to manage the impact on front line services 

• Adopting a pace that Members were comfortable with 

The anticipated benefits of phase 2 

At the start of the programme the benefits were identified in the Inter-Authority Agreement as: 

• save money for local taxpayers 

• deliver better services to the public, particularly in the sharing of specialist teams 

• maintain front line resilience 

• improved capacity for self-sustaining change 

• generate possibilities of further savings 

• rationalisation of office space and assets 

• more efficient purchasing and procurement 

In addition to the £660,000 savings from creating a joint senior management structure, the shared services reviews have identified £1,237,200 of ongoing savings / income per annum, so the total savings achieved are £1,897,200 pa. 

The service reviews contributed to a culture of continuous improvement and a range of staff have learned new tools and techniques in relation to business analysis, programme management, project management and implementing change. Some services, such as Revenues and Benefits and Planning Services have built in change related roles into their permanent structure and the review of Business Support established Programme and Project roles which support both ICT and Corporate change projects. The Councils also developed robust repeatable processes for the integration of systems and the restructure of teams. 

Read the full case study