GO progress update
Cllr Brian Robinson, Cabinet Member for an Efficient Council, to present report SD.80, an update regarding the implementation of the GO project.
Cllr Robinson, Cabinet Member for an Efficient Council and Planning Policy explained that the GO Programme is now a partnership of four district councils including Cheltenham Borough Council, Cotswold District Council. Forest of Dean District Council and West Oxfordshire District Council. The partnership would develop a shared service for finance, procurement, human resources and payroll, based on the creation of a shared IT platform. He said that the first step was to bring together all the transactional and advisory services across the partnership. He noted that expected benefits for the council was cost savings of £113,495 p.a. with net savings across the partnership over a ten-year period to March 2021 of £3.8million. He said that the Strategic Programme Management Board (SPMB) included one member and officer from each authority which, was himself and Sue Pangbourne, Head of Paid Service. The SPMB take strategic decisions for the partnership, referring key matters back to each Council’s Cabinet where required. He said the project was moving forward although there had been a slight delay, the going live date for the new system was Monday, 5 December 2011. He drew members’ attention to page 20 ‘progress against milestones’ and stated that all staff affected would be transferred to Cotswold District Council on 1 April 2012 using TUPE arrangements although the location of each service had yet to be decided. He said that the new system had a lot of benefits for the Forest of Dean with more scope for management reporting which would be more efficient and there was both an operational and financial benefit to the council.
Cllr Bill Evans asked for clarity of the net benefits for the Forest of Dean over the 10 years.
The Head of Paid Service replied that section 1.3 of the report showed the saving of £113,495 per annum from the first year and that the saving was proportional for each council to the amount that they had put into the partnership.
Answering a question Cllr Robinson confirmed that the other district councils in the partnership (except for Cheltenham) were of comparable size to the Forest of Dean District council and that it was in the interests of all the councils to use joint resources to deliver services across all the four councils. He said that all staff would be able to apply for jobs across the partnership in the different locations and there was no reason why some of the services may not be provided in the Forest of Dean.
Cllr Smart OBE, asked why it was only the Forest of Dean that was going live on 5 December and not all of the partners.
The Head of Paid Service explained that it would just be too difficult and so it had been agreed to do a staggered start. Also the staff here would then be more familiar with the systems and would have more experience, which would hold them in good stead to apply for jobs when they were advertised.
Cllr Robinson confirmed that there would be fewer jobs but also more opportunities for existing staff to develop in their specialism. He said when you join four councils together there would be better job profiles and reward with better opportunities for staff.
The Head of Paid Service explained that before the sign up the partners had agreed not to recruit permanently to staff vacancies in the affected areas and employ temporary or agency staff so as to minimise the impact of redundancies as far as possible.
Derek Broom said that the Forest were unlikely to be the authority to process debtor invoices but maybe transactional HR or creditor invoices would be at the Forest. He felt that there would be enough options and flexibility hopefully without compulsory redundancies. He also confirmed that for staff appointments in the future the Head of Service plus Human Resources would do this.
Answering a question the Head of Paid Service said that the partnership business model would not be a problem for a unitary authority as it civered back office services.
The chairman asked the Group Manager Finance and Property to provide the committee with details of the spending in the areas within the project and what the savings represent as a percentage of cost to gauge the risk against the project investment.
Report SD.80 was noted.