Saving money in south London

September 10, 2012 1:29 PM

Hats off to Sutton Council, south London, for saving taxpayers' money by scrapping its 'leader and cabinet' decision-making process. Formerly, eight executive councilors—the cabinet—each received an extra £17,391 on top of their £10,191 basic allowance. Under a new committee system introduced in May, just five committee chairmen, and a lead councillor for finance, receive the extra allowance, saving more than £30,000 a year. Decision-making is more democratic, too. Committee members are cross-party, represent all parts of the borough and reach decisions by majority vote.

‘Everyone is feeling the pressure of the economic downturn, including the council, so it's more important than ever that the decisions we make about how we spend taxpayers' money are as open and transparent as possible,’ says Cllr Sean Brennan, Leader of Sutton Council. ‘By inviting more councillors, from both political parties, to play a role in making important decisions, we hope residents will feel that we're doing exactly that. Councillors' allowances will be frozen for another year, so by deleting the Executive roles, we'll be saving over £30,000 a year - this money will go straight back into funding council services.’

So far only four councils have abandoned the leader and cabinet model, although the Localism Bill 2011 freed all councils to do so.

Sutton, and other councils, could save not just thousands but hundreds of millions by increased collaborative buying from suppliers, according to a report published last month by cost management company Lowendenmasai. Analysing data from 29 of London's 33 councils, researchers found neighbouring councils buying from the same supplier yet failing to form a joint buying organisation. Some companies even supply all 29 councils, meaning that ‘a much greater degree of amalgamation could bring much bigger benefits.’

‘At a time when money is tight, there is no excuse to waste it. Councils in London, and indeed across England, could take immediate action today that will begin to save significant sums of money for hard-pressed taxpayers,’ says Assaf Lennon, Managing Director of Lowendalmasaï. ‘It is possible to retain local decision-making with elected officials while councils save money by buying services across boundaries. Our research suggests that in some cases a contract could be introduced so all councils within a defined area bulk-buy from one supplier to drive down costs. A key principle of the government’s transparency agenda is that publishing spending data can be used to reduce the cost of services.’

 Hats off to Sutton Council, south London, for saving taxpayers' money by scrapping its 'leader and cabinet' decision-making process. Formerly, eight executive councilors—the cabinet—each received an extra £17,391 on top of their £10,191 basic allowance. Under a new committee system introduced in May, just five committee chairmen, and a lead councillor for finance, receive the extra allowance, saving more than £30,000 a year. Decision-making is more democratic, too. Committee members are cross-party, represent all parts of the borough and reach decisions by majority vote.

‘Everyone is feeling the pressure of the economic downturn, including the council, so it's more important than ever that the decisions we make about how we spend taxpayers' money are as open and transparent as possible,’ says Cllr Sean Brennan, Leader of Sutton Council. ‘By inviting more councillors, from both political parties, to play a role in making important decisions, we hope residents will feel that we're doing exactly that. Councillors' allowances will be frozen for another year, so by deleting the Executive roles, we'll be saving over £30,000 a year - this money will go straight back into funding council services.’

So far only four councils have abandoned the leader and cabinet model, although the Localism Bill 2011 freed all councils to do so.

Sutton, and other councils, could save not just thousands but hundreds of millions by increased collaborative buying from suppliers, according to a report published last month by cost management company Lowendenmasai. Analysing data from 29 of London's 33 councils, researchers found neighbouring councils buying from the same supplier yet failing to form a joint buying organisation. Some companies even supply all 29 councils, meaning that ‘a much greater degree of amalgamation could bring much bigger benefits.’

‘At a time when money is tight, there is no excuse to waste it. Councils in London, and indeed across England, could take immediate action today that will begin to save significant sums of money for hard-pressed taxpayers,’ says Assaf Lennon, Managing Director of Lowendalmasaï. ‘It is possible to retain local decision-making with elected officials while councils save money by buying services across boundaries. Our research suggests that in some cases a contract could be introduced so all councils within a defined area bulk-buy from one supplier to drive down costs. A key principle of the government’s transparency agenda is that publishing spending data can be used to reduce the cost of services.’

 

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