Single council ‘saves £20m a year’
Scores of staff could be made redundant if five Bucks authorities merge into one
THE county could save £20m a year by merging its five councils into one, a report has said.
B u c k i n g h a ms h i r e ’s business community crowdfunded the £25,000 needed to produce an independent research paper looking at the cost of local government.
The research, which was commissioned by the group, Buckinghamshire Business First and conducted by Ernst & Young, concluded that annual savings of £20.7m could be made, as well as a potential five-year net saving of more than £58m.
The research centred on four possible alternatives to the current system, including streamlining into two councils.
The option the report argues delivers the biggest saving is that of one unitary authority covering Buckinghamshire.
It acknowledges there would be upfront costs, the biggest being the cost of redundancy, but argues these would be repaid after one-and-ahalf years, with a five year cumulative saving of more than £58m.
Between 153 and 172 staff would lose their jobs.
The four district council leaders have said the report does not take into account savings achieved this year.
It added the coalition government has no ‘appetite’ for structural change in local government.
In a joint statement they said: “We are open to considering new ways of working, including looking at any unitary models, which would have to be in the best interests of our council taxpayers.”
They added this would be better explored in May after the general election.
owner of hardware business Jones & Cocks and spokesman for the Bucks Business Group, said: “There is a growing desire from businesses and residents in Buckinghamshire to get involved in decision making that affects where they live and work. The fact that the business community contributed £25,000 to finance the research shows the strength of feeling on this.
“This report does not look to predetermine a solution, but rather to inform the debate.”
He added: “The publication of this independent research paper has reinforced what the business community has been saying for a number of years.
“Our local authorities need to look to rationalise their organisations and make the best use of taxpayers’ money for the benefit of businesses and residents alike.
“This issue can no longer be swept under the carpet and needs to be given serious consideration by local politicians, especially in an election year.”
For more on the report visit www.getbucks.co.uk.
What do you think? Email bucksnews@ trinitysouth.co.uk or tweet @Get_Bucks.