Clever councils put other local authorities to shame

February 17, 2012 4:43 PM

St. Edmundsbury Borough and Forest Heath District councils have joined that innovative (and growing) group of local authorities who share chief executives.  Yesterday they replaced two senior managers on £127,621 and £100,200 with just one, Ian Gallin, on a salary of £105,000. When other general employment costs are taken into account, this will save local residents a total of about £165,000 a year.

It is undeniably a good thing for smaller district councils to share chief executives. St Edmundsbury and Forest Heath both cover small populations and it makes sense for the cost of senior managers to be spread among a larger number of taxpayers. Similarly, it is welcome that the sharing agreement has not led to a large increase in the Chief Executive’s salary. A similar arrangement between Brentwood Borough and Essex County Council saw Joanna Killian become the highest-paid council chief executive in the country.

The amalgamation of senior management roles, however, does not need to be the sole level of cooperation between councils. Often the Chief Executive is only one of many highly-paid senior bureaucrats within a local authority and further savings can be made if councils can integrate services and management structures.



The St Edmundsbury-Forest Heath arrangement seems to recognise this. This deal is part of a wider sharing agreement that will create initial savings of up to £2 million. James Waters, the Council Leader at Forest Heath, hopes that the shared Chief Executive "will help not only drive shared services forward, but […] put us in the position of working with other partners beyond the boundaries of Suffolk."

A good guide to follow is the shared services arrangement between Hammersmith and Fulham, Westminster, and Kensington and Chelsea councils. From 2014/15 onwards their Tri-borough plan hopes to save £33 million a year by combining back office and management costs and by cutting duplicate senior management roles. They will save an estimated £320,000 a year alone by having only one Director of Children’s Services.

Critically, these councils are handing back savings to local taxpayers. There is little point in reducing the number of middle and senior managers if the money is redirected into other wasteful schemes. Hammersmith and Fulham Council credits the Tri-Borough savings with allowing a 3.75% cut in council tax this year.

Local authorities must make necessary cuts to their budgets and it is encouraging that some have found innovative ways of doing so. There are always alternatives to library closures or fortnightly bin collections and the burden is on local politicians to make the right decisions. But too many councillors are not being bold. They still splurge growing amounts on middle management and then whinge that they lack the money for frontline services or council tax cuts.

Councils which have made clever savings are too original by far.St. Edmundsbury Borough and Forest Heath District councils have joined that innovative (and growing) group of local authorities who share chief executives.  Yesterday they replaced two senior managers on £127,621 and £100,200 with just one, Ian Gallin, on a salary of £105,000. When other general employment costs are taken into account, this will save local residents a total of about £165,000 a year.

It is undeniably a good thing for smaller district councils to share chief executives. St Edmundsbury and Forest Heath both cover small populations and it makes sense for the cost of senior managers to be spread among a larger number of taxpayers. Similarly, it is welcome that the sharing agreement has not led to a large increase in the Chief Executive’s salary. A similar arrangement between Brentwood Borough and Essex County Council saw Joanna Killian become the highest-paid council chief executive in the country.

The amalgamation of senior management roles, however, does not need to be the sole level of cooperation between councils. Often the Chief Executive is only one of many highly-paid senior bureaucrats within a local authority and further savings can be made if councils can integrate services and management structures.



The St Edmundsbury-Forest Heath arrangement seems to recognise this. This deal is part of a wider sharing agreement that will create initial savings of up to £2 million. James Waters, the Council Leader at Forest Heath, hopes that the shared Chief Executive "will help not only drive shared services forward, but […] put us in the position of working with other partners beyond the boundaries of Suffolk."

A good guide to follow is the shared services arrangement between Hammersmith and Fulham, Westminster, and Kensington and Chelsea councils. From 2014/15 onwards their Tri-borough plan hopes to save £33 million a year by combining back office and management costs and by cutting duplicate senior management roles. They will save an estimated £320,000 a year alone by having only one Director of Children’s Services.

Critically, these councils are handing back savings to local taxpayers. There is little point in reducing the number of middle and senior managers if the money is redirected into other wasteful schemes. Hammersmith and Fulham Council credits the Tri-Borough savings with allowing a 3.75% cut in council tax this year.

Local authorities must make necessary cuts to their budgets and it is encouraging that some have found innovative ways of doing so. There are always alternatives to library closures or fortnightly bin collections and the burden is on local politicians to make the right decisions. But too many councillors are not being bold. They still splurge growing amounts on middle management and then whinge that they lack the money for frontline services or council tax cuts.

Councils which have made clever savings are too original by far.

Latest Blogs:

TaxPayers' Alliance Icon

The sugar tax and the public finances

6:00 AM 05, Dec 2016 Harry Fairhead

TaxPayers' Alliance Icon

Working for the taxman

6:00 AM 26, Nov 2016 Harry Fairhead

TaxPayers' Alliance Icon

Further thoughts on the Autumn Statement

4:56 PM 24, Nov 2016 James Price

TaxPayers' Alliance Icon

Have we had too much austerity?

10:57 AM 23, Nov 2016 Alex Wild