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First shared services councils being eagerly watched by other cost cutting councils


In her first interview since taking on her new role, Christine Reed, the newly appointed HR director of Local Government Shared Services (the shared service venture set up by Cambridgeshire and Northamptonshire county councils), says she is already being closely watched by other cost-cutting councils.


The new venture, set up to conservatively save £25million over the next 10 years, has just announced its senior team and that it will share its finance, human resources, procurement and legal services.

"We’re the first two county councils to share our back-end services," says Reed, who was previously head of organisational development and human resources for Northamptonshire County Council.

More than 32,000 employees working for both councils will now have a single point of contact for their HR services. Reed adds: "It’s not just transactional services that are being shared either. Our complete range of strategic professional and advisory HR services are also being shared. We think this is unique. The decision has been taken to innovate our HR rather than downsizing it and let it wither on the vine."

 According to Reed, the arrangement differs because Local Government Shared Services is a venture free from private involvement. Although it exists over the top of the two councils, each has an equal say in how the shared arrangement is to work. "It’s very much two county councils working together, to be able to save back-end money and pass this to frontline services," she says.

"There’s already a lot of interest in what we’re doing," adds Reed. "All of local government is going to have to look at how it organises itself and its staffing. We’ve done this, top to bottom, and are already seeing savings."

The announcement follows several local councils (such as four within Kent) recently experimenting by sharing their outsourced recruitment services. Last month Hammersmith & Fulham, Kensington & Chelsea, and Westminster Council announced they were in talks to merge all their services, in a deal which could save £100m per year.