By Lucy Phillips
7 February 2011
Nine out of ten English local authorities are intending to
share more frontline services over the next two years, according to a survey of
senior managers published today.
Environmental services and social care were the areas most
likely to be merged. A similar proportion of councils, 89%, intend to share more back-office functions.
currently share either frontline or back-office services according to the survey,
carried out by law firm Browne Jacobson.
Almost two-thirds (63%) of the 150 managers polled, who
included chief finance officers, expected to save 10% of their total 2011/12
budget by sharing services during the coming year.
Dominic Swift, head of shared services at Brown Jacobson,
said: ‘The government’s austerity bombshell is clearly forcing authorities to
look at innovative and radical ways in which to deliver their services.
‘We can also see a noticeable sea change in attitudes
towards merging frontline services.’
The research also found that almost every authority (98%)
would feel comfortable sharing services with another public sector partner and
over three-quarters (78%) with the private sector.
Furthermore, 85% of respondents said they would consider
outsourcing on a service-by-service basis while over a third (35%) would be
happy to sign up to a large-scale outsourcing project.
A similar survey conducted by Browne Jacobson three years
ago found that fewer than half of councils intended to merge frontline services
and only 5% saw any potential in working with the private sector.
Swift added: ‘Councils are starting to think outside the box
and previous no-go areas such as the private sector and large-scale outsourcing
are also back on the agenda.’