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London could face cuts for not sharing services

City has so far made just £1.2m savings out of £300m annual target...

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The London Assembly's budget and performance committee has been told that police, fire and transport authorities that do not share back office services may have their budgets cut.

Police, fire and transport organisations that resist sharing services are frustrating progress on Boris Johnson's plans to save £300m annually by 2012-2013 and could have their budgets reduced, the committee heard.

Giving evidence to the committee on 7 July, Sir Edward Lister, the mayor's chief of staff, said that despite only £1.2m worth of savings a year being made so far he was "completely committed" to making the savings. He added that if organisations "put up too much opposition" to sharing services such as IT they could have their budgets from the Greater London Authority (GLA) reduced.

Savings from sharing back office functions form an important part of the mayor's plan to protect frontline services.

The committee has previously questioned whether the targets for such high savings are realistic and warned that they could be difficult to achieve. Nicholas Griffin, the mayor's advisor for budgets and performance, also gave evidence, and agreed with Lister that the the GLA still wants to achieve the savings that have been outlined. He claimed the targets were still achievable.

John Biggs, chair of the budget and performance committee, said: "There is a clear opportunity to save significant sums of money by sharing more services across the GLA. However the challenge of getting everyone onboard is making for very slow progress.

"The mayor's chief of staff, like others before him, has today committed to taking the shared service agenda forward and so we will closely monitor progress to see if this programme actually starts to deliver real savings," said Biggs.

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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