Tighter budgets prompt local authorities to share services

More than half (53%) of local authorities believe rolling out standardised systems and processes would cut costs, according to new figures.

Forty percent of the 100 respondents surveyed by supplier Civica thought that shared services would help councils to remove costs.

Over one third, 37 percent, claimed to be using or planning to use, shared services over the next one to three years.

The survey highlights job fears in councils, as most local authorities expect the funding cuts.

Nearly one third (30 percent) said the government would cut funding and support in 2009, while 53 percent believe local authorities would cut jobs this year.

But more than half (51 percent) believed information and communications technology (ICT) would help local authorities drive down costs further.

"In 2009 the challenges facing local authorities and housing organisations are being compounded by the economic climate as executives will be forced to do more with even fewer resources," said Val Earle, head of consulting for enterprise service transformation at Civica.

It is an "opportune time" for public sector executives to reassess spending programmes and look at where technology can help make additional efficiency savings, Earle said.

"Job cuts to address the lack of funding is not necessarily the answer as authorities could then lose employees they have been spent considerable time and money training. Using existing technology systems more effectively often has more effect in terms of enhancing services and making cost savings."

IT services firm Civica surveyed 100 local authority and housing executives attending its annual conference in Manchester.

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