Archive for February 10, 2011

Needing a cover story

February 10, 2011

Hiding under the water...

We’ve spoken about shared services before and suggested that whilst they are a good thing they are not a panacea for all of local government’s cost cutting needs.

However, this week I discovered one of the other reasons shared services can be successful; and I’m not sure it’s a good thing.

I remember that when the Euro was introduced there were lots of stories in the papers about how small business people were taking advantage in the change of pricing to put a little extra profit into their margins. The change of currency provided an opportunity for those who wanted to make other changes without people noticing.

The potential for the same to happen with shared services was brought home to me this week. I was speaking to a consultant specialising in southern councils and she told me that one of the reasons she liked shared services was that the two councils could use them to make wider changes that would otherwise be out of reach.

When I pressed her about this (I’m a curious type) she told me that what she wanted to do was reduce the grades of staff who were doing the roles in question. As she said, junior staff can do the same job as those who’ve been here a long time but do so for a lot less money.

She also wanted to reduce some of the ‘managers’ to the role of ‘team leaders’.

I guess I have nothing against any of these things if they need to happen. But, surely these are not savings that are dependent on, or even brought about through the shared service?