Merger of council services takes a major step forward

Plans for two councils to share services and create a single workforce have taken a major step forward.

Thursday, 18th January 2018, 3:45 pm
Northumberland County Council's current home at County Hall in Morpeth.

Northumberland County Council and Newcastle City Council are looking to share transactional services in a bid to reduce costs.

Newcastle Council’s cabinet approved the business case, subject to call-in by scrutiny, on Monday after Northumberland County’s cabinet agreed the proposal last week.

A joint committee will now be set up to start the process, along with a formal consultation with staff and trades unions.

Under the proposals, city council staff who deliver these services will transfer over to Northumberland County Council under TUPE arrangements.

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Officials say the move will ensure high quality transactional services, such as council tax, business rates, staff payroll and revenues and benefits.

It aims to save £895,000 over the next three years for each council.

Coun Nick Oliver, Northumberland’s cabinet member for corporate services, said: “All councils continue to face significant pressures to reduce costs, while at the same time continuing to provide essential, high quality services to our communities and our residents.

“By exploring opportunities to provide joint financial services, this will help us to look at ways we can continue to achieve high quality frontline services in a cost-effective and more efficient way.”

Coun Veronica Dunn, Newcastle’s cabinet member for resources, said: “Over the last seven years Government cuts have had a profound effect on councils up and down the country. As a result, they have had to explore new ways of providing services.

“Newcastle has a proud record of finding innovative ways of doing more with less. Coming together with our neighbours in Northumberland will, I believe, deliver savings that can be reinvested back into sustaining vital public services that people depend upon.”

Transactional services cost both authorities about £11million a year. Bringing staff together will create a single workforce of more than 400.

It is hoped the new service will be up and running by April 1, and staff will move into new office accommodation in July or August 2018.