Government gives cash to enable council “merger”

The Government has awarded Councils in South West London £3m to help transform services, with Wandsworth and Richmond Council’s plans to create a shared staffing structure forms a key part of the award.

The grant comes from the “Transformation Challenge Awards” which supports innovations that improve and protect public services and reduce the cost to taxpayers.

The funding will be used for essential up-front investments, for example joining up ICT services across the two councils. It will mean that savings from the shared staffing structure can be delivered sooner.

While the Wandsworth and Richmond proposals form the key plank in the proposals, the Transformation Challenge Award will also be shared between Sutton, Kingston and Merton councils to support potential shared service initiatives across all of the authorities.

Leader of Wandsworth Council, Ravi Govindia, said: “I’m pleased the Government has recognised the significant benefits and savings our staff sharing proposal represents. Our approach is designed to preserve the unique identify and values of each council while eliminating duplication in how services are managed and run across the two boroughs.”

The shared staffing proposals will see the creation of a single senior management structure across the two boroughs by March 2017, delivering savings of up to £10 million per year for local tax payers in each authority.

Initially the focus will be on merging management structures – reducing duplication, and the proportion of spending that goes on senior management. In the longer term the council hopes there will be opportunities for further savings to reduce overheads, for example, by getting better deals from suppliers when commissioning back office services.

Under the innovative proposals, the intention is that the two councils will be managed by a single Chief Executive, Paul Martin, currently Chief Executive at Wandsworth, and a Deputy Chief Executive Director of Resources – Mark Maidment, currently Richmond’s Director of Finance and Corporate Services. This will be fully implemented following the retirement of Gillian Norton, Richmond’s Chief Executive, and Chris Buss, Wandsworth’s Deputy Chief Executive and Director of Finance.

Wandsworth and Richmond councils will continue to be separate sovereign bodies with their own elected Councillors, Cabinets and Leaders.

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