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Are UK councils looking at a shared future?

Figures from the Local Government Association (LGA) recently revealed that councils are trying to save money by sharing services. With pressure on public funds showing no signs of easing, could sharing be the new normal for local authorities?

The facts

Data obtained by software firm Citrix indicates that sharing is on the up. Of 314 UK councils that responded to the outfit's freedom of information request, 89 per cent already pool services like IT and Customer Relationship Management systems.

The LGA’s findings, meanwhile, reveal that councils across the country have saved £462 million via shared service initiatives in the last three years. More than £100 million was saved in 2014 alone.

What's driving this change?

Central government funding for councils is due a 40 per cent reduction, forcing local authorities to make savings wherever possible. According to Citrix, austerity has forced many councils to review their processes and take a new stance on innovation.

All signs point to resource pooling becoming more commonplace – North East England alone saw 38 new sharing arrangements implemented in the 12 months leading up to May 2015.

Jason Tooley, UK and Ireland country manager at Citrix, told TechWeekEurope UK that councils most "innovate to deliver vital services” in the context of further cuts. Mr Tooley also stated that an “an increasingly complex landscape of shared services" is on the horizon.

Is sharing a cure-all?

While increased focus on innovation is undoubtedly positive, some commentators are concerned that joined-up services may represent a privacy risk for ordinary citizens.

Secondly, although councils are actively exploring new ways to pool resources, it's already clear that this won't always be possible or desirable. Some authorities may be concerned about losing their organisational identity, for example, while others may worry about trust issues. Ultimately, there will always be a limit to how much local authorities can share without drastically compromising on service delivery.

Fortunately however, sharing is not the only weapon in local authorities' arsenal. Councils can also ease pressure on their budgets by enlisting the help of Dukes Bailiffs. Our Enforcement Agents are trained to cover outstanding debts ethically, efficiently and sensitively.

If you work for a council and are worried that resource sharing is diluting your services, speak to our Contact Centre Manager today and find out how we could help.

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