New ground-breaking company will safeguard local services

In November Forest of Dean District Council is launching a ground-breaking partnership which promises to deliver better local services for residents.

Four partner Councils, Cotswold District Council, Cheltenham Borough Council, Forest of Dean and West Oxfordshire District Councils have created a new company, Publica Group Ltd to deliver more efficient and improved services. 

Employees from Forest of Dean District Council, along with those from the other Councils, will transfer into Publica and continue to provide services for local residents.  However Forest of Dean District Council will continue to be responsible for the standard of services that are provided as well as setting strategy, policy and making decisions.

So why is Forest of Dean District Council doing this?

The purpose is to create more value through improving efficiency and reducing costs, while at the same time improving services.

Creating one company with staff from each Council will reduce the cost of management and administration and provide the opportunity to share workloads, learn from each other and benefit from shared expertise and knowledge. 

Ultimately, the aim is to deliver a better more cost effective service.  

The benefits of partnership and shared services aren't new to Forest of Dean District Council.  In 2012, the four Councils joined in partnership to create Gloucestershire & Oxfordshire Shared Services (GO Shared Service) to provide a shared human resources, finance and payroll function.  

Last year, the shared services were extended to include ICT, public protection, building control, legal, property and customer services and moved into a Joint Committee established to oversee the partnership and to take it on the next stage of its journey.

During the last five years, Forest of Dean District Council has learnt how to make the most of collaboration and partnership, they’ve seen the savings it can generate while benefiting the services they offer.  Those savings have been substantial, at approximately £1.35m. Realising that this was the way to deliver the savings required of local authorities without services suffering, Forest of Dean District Council along with its three partners have created Publica and that’s where their partnership journey continues.

What does this mean for residents?

Residents will not see a difference in the way that their services are delivered, who they contact and how they contact them. 

The Council will remain as it is and will be the place local residents go for all their normal services, advice and support. 

What does this mean for Forest of Dean District Council staff?

Existing employees of Forest of Dean District Council will be transferred to Publica in November. They will be transferred under special arrangements that safeguard them and protect their terms and conditions. Once they’re together in one company with employees from the other partner Councils they will look at how the services they provide can benefit from the new company set up.

Publica will also start recruiting new employees to join the team, and will move away from the traditional public sector pay and benefits package by offering something new with greater choice for new employees.

The Councils together are expecting to see savings of around £5.6 million per year by 2020, and £41 million in total over the next ten years.

Cabinet member for Finance, Governance, Performance and Shared Working at Forest of Dean District Council, Councillor Roger James said: “This is an exciting time for us as we take the next step of our journey with our partner Councils to create a jointly owned public sector company. Publica is a creative and enterprising solution to our modern day challenges and I am confident that our community will benefit from the continued shared experience and expertise this brings together from staff across the partner Councils.”

For more information about Publica visit the new website www.publicagroup.uk

 

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