Four districts have agreed to expand their existing shared-services agreement to include information technology.
Cheltenham Borough Council, West Oxfordshire District Council, Cotswold District Council, and Forest of Dean District Council already share human resources, finance and payroll services through a partnership called Go Shared Services.
But all councils have now agreed to add ICT, customer services and building control to the deal, along with land and property services. Three of the authorities will also share legal services and revenues and benefits.
The councils’ 2020 Vision programme targets savings of £38m over the next decade from combined investment of £10.7m during the next five years. The project is also being supported by a £3.8m Transformation Challenge Award grant from the government.
According to the councils, expanding their shared services arrangements is seen as an alternative to a full-blown merger, or deeper service cuts. They said the 2020 Vision programme would initially be managed by a joint committee, but the option of forming a joint company to take over its running would be explored over the next 12-18 months.
Patrick Molyneux, leader of Forest of Dean District Council, said the agreement would allow the councils to continue delivering their current range of services and maintain their independence.
“It makes a lot of sense for us to continue to build on something which is already working as we look to make savings over the coming years,” he said.
“The 2020 Vision Programme will by the fifth year be delivering annual savings of £1.3m to our council alone. We firmly believe this is the best way to continue providing our current range of services.”