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Somerset council looks for cuts in Southwest One

Renegotiating contract for back office services

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Southwest One, a joint venture between IBM, Somerset, Taunton Deane BC and Avon and Somerset Constabulary, will be reviewed along with all of the county council's contracts in an effort to cut costs.

A spokeswoman for Somerset said: "Somerset county council needs to make huge savings to its budget over the next three years.

"All contracts that the council has with outside suppliers are being looked at again to see if further savings can be made. The contract with Southwest One is no exception."

Asked whether the current contract, which was signed in October 2007 for 10 years, could be broken, she replied: "There is a possibility that we could break the contract, but as we're renegotiating the contract, this isn't on the cards."

At the end of 2010 Somerset confirmed that Southwest One, which was predicted to deliver savings of £172m over seven years, was unlikely to achieve its savings targets. The authority did not give a more accurate figure.

According to the Yeovil Express, Somerset is setting up a panel, made up of the ruling Conservative group and opposition Liberal Democrats, to examine the possibility.

The Southwest One deal has been one of the more high profile shared service operations in local government and one of the few to extend to another public service.

It has been heavily criticised by the MP for Bridgewater, Ian Liddell-Grainger, and when the Conservatives won control of the county in 2009 they announced a review of its terms and performance; but this has apparently been on the back burner for some time.

This article was originally published at Guardian Government Computing.

Guardian Government Computing is a business division of Guardian Professional, and covers the latest news and analysis of public sector technology. For updates on public sector IT, join the Government Computing Network here.

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