Enforcement and business services across Surrey and Buckinghamshire will operate as a single entity from April, after the iESE-led merger of the councils’ trading standards services was approved.
Almost £300,000 – some 10% of the combined budget of the two services – will be saved over the next three years, while officers from both authorities agree that they will maintain or improve services, while increasing the pool of resources to deploy in any major incident.
The merger of services – further evidence that local government is far ahead of central when it comes to making efficiencies without damaging services - will see both Surrey and Bucks retain their public identities, as well as their current range of services to consumers and businesses.
Core frontline services, such as Buy With Confidence, local business schemes and enforcement activity, will continue broadly as they are – although with the added benefit of sharing knowledge and resources between the two teams, cutting out duplication and saving time.
Major activity – such as responses to animal disease outbreaks like foot and mouth – will benefit from having the resource available from both authorities to deploy as required.
However legal, investigations and IT will be merged – creating a single business administration & management structure. The two teams will operate to a joint strategy with new governance – with a joint committee being established between Surrey and Bucks to set policy and review performance.
Staff from Buckinghamshire – the smaller of the two authorities with 500,000 residents and around 15 Trading Standards staff – will be transferred to Surrey CC next month, and the new service goes live on April 1.
iESE worked closely with both authorities in the development of the merger, supporting in both options development/options appraisal and delivery, and will continue working with Surrey and Bucks beyond April when the service goes live.
Surrey and Bucks are the latest in an increasing number of authorities to deliver significant savings through a partnership with iESE. We have forged a successful partnership with more than 90% of UK councils, and has helped councils deliver more than £600m in savings and service improvements to date.
Andrew Larner, Chief Executive, said: “The innovation and drive for improvement at both councils has been yet another fantastic reminder of the ability in local government.
“Trading Standards is one of the most visible services of any council – it may not be in the same budget sphere as social care, but it’s a key driver of resident satisfaction and that makes it critical to get the service right.
“A joint service not only makes sense financially but genuinely offers increased resilience when it’s required - each authority will have a far greater resource to deploy to major incidents and to be able to offer an improved service to local businesses.”