Central government requires the public sector to be more joined up, work collaboratively and achieve greater efficiencies in the delivery of services and procurement. Many public sector organisations lack the capacity and necessary skills to deliver the very projects that will be instrumental in meeting these aims. Shared service is a means by which authorities can engage services and resources from another authority to provide the capacity and skills needed.
HCC Property Services can provide you with a wide range of professional services, comprehensive advice and a sustainable solution for all your property related design, procurement and asset management challenges. Through arrangements with other authorities, we have been able to demonstrate independently-verified benefits and outcomes to clients.
Reading Borough Council (RBC) were the first authority to engage in this arrangement with HCC Property Services. Their shared services agreement, formalised in September 2007, demonstrates how both authorities maximise the benefits of their work together. The experience and learning of the officers involved in one project is used to develop the approach to other similar schemes. The current programme of work reflects the confidence in this arrangement and the underpinning detailed working practice now well established.
In addition to the cashable benefits from the arrangement, the other benefits for both authorities include:
Since then HCC Property Services has entered into many other collaborative arrangements – sometimes with police and fire authorities as well as other local authorities. Put simply, the more that public sector organisations collaborate, the greater the savings that can be realised.
The next step in the development of shared services is the creation of a local authority company arrangement that harnesses the latest trading powers available to the public sector.
HCC Property Services is able to offer this arrangement which gives authorities the opportunity to work together under the banner of a local authority company, allowing much more than a simple transactional approach. It provides a sustainable solution for both parties and a real desire and commitment to make the public sector more efficient, progressive and responsive to this rapidly changing environment.
This is an extremely flexible and adaptable approach which can be tailored to meet a whole range of service delivery requirements and client needs. There is no restriction on how such a company could be organised or its size and scale. It also has very broad applicability beyond pure construction and property services and may encompass a whole range of other public sector services.
We have designed this shared services vehicle to be complemented by the best of the private sector, who would provide specific expertise and/or capacity secured through strategic partnership arrangements, many of which could be procured through existing frameworks. There are many exciting possibilities which could be explored with interested organisations leading to significant overhead reductions and efficiency savings and mutual benefits.
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Reflecting on a period of 15 months, we have moved from what seemed like a good idea following the success of the first SECE Demonstration project at Alfred Sutton Primary School worth £2.4 million, to a formal joint services agreement that effectively enables HCC Property Services to provide a full range of professional design services to Reading Borough Council.
The benefits of the arrangement to Reading are significant.
Reading Borough Council