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Legislation should be used to force local authorities to share back office facilities, according to a new report.

Stop, Start, Save - Shared Service Delivery in Local Government, published by the Deloitte consultancy, says councils have been incapable of delivering the level of savings achieved in the private sector and that, with a few exceptions, large scale tactical collaboration between local authorities has rarely succeeded.

It claims that while local politicians can be effective in allocating resources to match local needs, they can also act against the optimisation of resources. The list of obstacles to effective sharing includes a strong desire to protect the sovereignty of individual authorities, and some councillors' belief that sharing infrastructure or management functions with another council undermines that sovereignty.

Local authorities also find it difficult to agree how to relocate staff outside a political boundary.

"Given the threat to existing levels of public funding this position may become unsustainable, and there is now a strong case for making the adoption of shared services for certain back office functions mandatory," Deloitte says.

It argues that the problems could be overcome by the obligatory introduction of regional or multi-local authority shared services.

The firm's local government partner Mark Lawrie says that sharing back office services would not create a deficiency in local government democracy, as councillors are held accountable for the outputs of their authorities and not to manage support processes.

This article was originally published at Kable.

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