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North east councils to combine services into 400-strong workforce

Newcastle City Council has approved plans to begin sharing transactional services with neighbouring Northumbria County Council, a move expected to save around £1.8m.

A single workforce of over 400 people will be created, with all the affected staff able to submit their views to a further consultation.

Newcastle’s cabinet member for resources, Cllr Veronica Dunn, said the move was a way of delivering savings in a difficult environment and against a backdrop of government cuts.

A joint committee will now be set up between the two authorities, starting the formal process of transferring over staff under TUPE arrangements, with the staff covering responsibilities for council tax, business rates, staff payroll, and revenues & benefits.

“Over the last seven years government cuts have had a profound effect on councils up and down the country. As a result, they have had to explore new ways of providing services,” Dunn explained.

“Newcastle has a proud record of finding innovative ways of doing more with less. Coming together with our neighbours in Northumberland will, I believe, deliver savings that can be reinvested back into sustaining vital public services that people depend upon.”

Newcastle Council revealed plans in November last year to slash around 40 jobs in efforts to save £13m, this would make the total number of job cuts hit around 2,500 over the last seven years.

The council says it had no choice and has suffered from some of the largest funding cuts in the country forcing it to look towards transactional services which incurs a cost to both authorities of £11m a year.

Northumberland’s cabinet member for corporate services, Cllr Nick Oliver, said: “All councils continue to face significant pressures to reduce costs, while at the same time continuing to provide essential high-quality services to our communities and our residents.

“By exploring opportunities to provide joint financial services, this will help us to look at ways we can continue to achieve high quality frontline services in a cost-effective and more efficient way.”

It is hoped the new service will be up and running by 1 April 2018 and staff will move into new office accommodation in either July or August 2018.

Top image: Glenn Bowman

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