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Finance and money

London boroughs in historic link-up

Through Project Athena, a number of London councils have agreed to work together to share the costs of the implementation of essential financial systems.

This will enable all boroughs within the partnership to consider a shared service operation for financial and transactional services and to work towards the sharing of back office services where economies can be shown. Lambeth, Lewisham and Havering have initiated the project and other London boroughs have indicated an interest. All of the boroughs who join the partnership will increase the level of savings from the shared service.

Councillor Paul McGlone, Lambeth Council’s Cabinet Member for Finance, said: “Being tough on finding more efficient ways of delivering services is what the ‘shared service’ agenda should be about. Local authorities across London all have some common requirements for back office functions, but we have historically designed, procured and contracted them differently. The ‘Oracle shared service’ project supporting Finance, HR & Procurement provides an opportunity to work together to streamline processes, reduce effort, lower operating costs and save money. By reforming the way we design and deliver back office functions to save money we also help to protect front line services for the vulnerable.”

Councillor Paul Maslin, Cabinet Member for Resources at Lewisham Council, said: “We are pleased this project is going ahead as it represents our commitment to joint working with other councils. Lewisham is already working in partnerships with other boroughs and these are delivering vital savings however we are always keen to explore further possibilities.”

Councillor Roger Ramsey, Cabinet Member for Value at Havering Council said: “We need to find significant savings over the next few years, while protecting as many frontline services as we can. One of the ways we can do that is by working with other Councils. Joining up with Lambeth and Lewisham means we can drive out back office costs making us more efficient and delivering best value for our tax payers. We will continue to look for areas where we can work jointly with other authorities.”

The project has been successful in securing some financial support from Capital Ambition, the regional improvement and efficiency programme for London. This funding will be used to support the development of the shared service.

The joint service is expected to go live by autumn 2013 with detailed design and build of the new service starting during 2011. The savings will be used to support front-line services.

ENDS

Notes for editors

The Leaders of Lambeth, Lewisham and Southwark issued a joint letter to their respective Chief Executives on 22 June 2010 setting out the desire to develop the significant potential for cross-border working, sharing of back-office functions and joint procurement in order to make significant savings. Progress is being made on a short list of initiatives that will deliver real savings that can be integrated into the Budget for future years.

Capital Ambition one of nine Regional Improvement and Efficiency Programmes, covering London and is administered by London Councils.

Over the three-year period 2008-11, Capital Ambition has managed approximately £36m of grant funding from Department for Communities Local Government, to support London’s local authorities and local strategic partnerships to deliver efficiencies, improve performance, and support innovative ways of working. The portfolio of projects that have received funding from Capital Ambition is forecast to achieve efficiencies of £725 million by 2015, of which £584 million is directly attributable to Capital Ambition funding.

For more information about Capital Ambition, visit: http://www.londoncouncils.gov.uk/capitalambition/

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