(2005), "Efficiency and modernisation in local government", International Journal of Productivity and Performance Management, Vol. 54 No. 2. https://doi.org/10.1108/ijppm.2005.07954baf.004Download as .RIS
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Copyright © 2005, Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Efficiency and modernisation in local government
Over recent years, the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister (ODPM) in the UK has been working with the local government sector to help it make savings through working more efficiently and getting the most from modern technology. The efficiency review work undertaken by Sir Peter Gershon brings new challenges and opportunities for local government to make itself more modern and efficient.
The Spending Review 2004 set out an efficiency target of at least 2.5 per cent each year for every local authority. This adds up to £6.45 billion of savings for local government to meet by 2007/2008.
This is a challenging target, but it is also an achievable one, if local and central government work together. It should result in real improvements to local services, either by changing organisational arrangements or by making financial savings. The crucial result should be that local authorities will be able to spend more of their money on meeting the needs of the community they represent. Efficiency and modernisation are not ends in themselves. Rather, they are ways of freeing resources to concentrate on core priorities.
The aim to improve efficiency is not about cutting corners, reducing services, nor charging people more. The idea is to build sustainable communities, not undermine them. Neither is it about Whitehall dictating to local authorities about how to do things. Rather it is about helping local authorities to work together, to share the knowledge and skills that already exist within the local government sector, so that best practice approaches can be adopted nationwide.
There is already a lot of work underway in this area:
The Regional Centres of Procurement Excellence were set up in 2004; they are bringing together local authorities in each of the regions to explore ways of working in partnership to improve procurement and secure savings.
The Strategic Partnering Taskforce concluded its research assignment in 2004 with the publication of its final report. Its main conclusion was that there were efficiencies to be found from strategic service partnerships. The recommendations in the final report are being progressed.
The local e-government programme is helping local authorities to achieve efficiencies through the use of new technology. A number of national projects and local and regional partnerships are already underway.
Local area agreements are being piloted; these will give local authorities and their partners the freedom and flexibility to find local solutions to local problems, and to prioritise spending in order to achieve a coherent and efficient programme that delivers outcomes in the way best suited to their area.
There is a wealth of expertise in local authorities. If this can be shared and developed, the UK will be on track to make the savings the review has identified. And the money saved will go towards delivering quality services that meet the needs of local communities.