Opinion – UK Local Authorities and Shared Services: Cost-Cutting – Myth or Reality? – John Gelmini

Metropolitan boroughs, London boroughs and non...

Metropolitan boroughs, London boroughs and non-metropolitan unitary authorities are shown (the remaining areas are shire counties) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


 Dr Alf is right to worry about the risks of Local Authority shared services centres because the real problem of lack of local authority worker productivity (32%) and the number of local authorities, constabularies and fire commands is not being addressed.

Nor is the problem of too many local authority layers of Government being addressed,  nor the burgeoning problem of Adult Social Care, which now consumes 55% of county council, unitary authority, metropolitan borough council and London Borough Council budgets.

The steps needed are clear:

1) Abolish districts and boroughs and outsource all their functions to a rotating panel of providers

2) Reduce UK county councils, unitary authorities, metropolitan borough councils, London Borough Councils and City Councils to 15 (England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland)

3) Reduce layers to five, and impose headcount restrictions to stop bogus grades re-emerging as happens now

4) Apply Lean EFQM to all services, recalculate headcount required fire all those surplus to requirements staring at the top with the 4000 or so council chief executives who are essentially not needed. In practical terms, this will mean firing 55% of all local authority workers

5) Reduce constabularies and fire commands to 15 and repeat the process but in the case of the police keeping the overall budget intact and using layering and procurement savings to fund cleverer detectives and more bobbies

6) Merge Adult Social Care into the NHS and get rid of Adult Social Care directorates in councils

7) Centralise all purchasing with a rotating panel of auditable providers changed once a year

8) Bring in random spot checking of all local authority workers bank accounts and in the case of senior officials, Chief Executives etc audit the accounts of their wives, girlfriends, partners, mistresses, children and relatives, forbid them from setting up foreign trusts

Catch and bring to justice two or three of the worst examples of corruption (there could well be many) and make sure that the sentences on conviction are draconian and that all monies are recovered in the full glare of publicity and with Dominic Littlewood the bald headed presenter given full scope to pontificate on the matter in a television programme

9) Bring in variable tax on foods, identify Adult Social Care recipients early, insist that people lose weight and stop smoking before they are given Adult Social Care or NHS operations.

Aggressively re-enable all Adult Social Care recipients so that only those truly in need of such help actually get it.

Apply gastric band and stomach stapling to the morbidly obese and prescribe Tai Chi for them once they are thinner

10) Merge all call centres and dispatching centres into CRM driven,web enabled shared services centres

11) Outsource whatever is left over

John Gelmini

Opinion – House of Commons – Major Projects Authority – Public Accounts Committee – John Gelmini


English: brief diagram comparing the role of c...

English: brief diagram comparing the role of civil servants in the UK and US constitutions. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Dr Alf is right! It’s time to outsource the majority of the public sector. This will focus attention on effective public service and value-for-money.

The UK public sector that we now have, especially post-austerity, is not fit for purpose; it’s unaffordable and is beyond any hope of meaningful reform, and certainly not by Big 4 consultants and people like McKinsey’s who have a vested interest in creating no meaningful change at all. Top consultants are charged to the public sector at GBP5,000+ per day, plus expenses.

The UK public sector has become self-serving, arrogant and incompetently run, by a series of people who are happy to institutionalize waste. There is a complete lack of accountability when things go wrong, and when malfeasance, fraud, or bad procurement practice are plain for all to see.

By a process of osmosis over time, it has become a job creation scheme for a wide assortment of risk-averse people, who often seem devoid of common-sense, business knowledge or any concept of what a country has to do to create real jobs, exports and prosperity.

At the top of the food chain, we have Civil Service “Mandarins”, who were originally taught Latin and Greek, as a result of a “Classical Education” . This, it would appear, gives them the ability to confuse Ministers, generally less knowledgeable than themselves, and to come up with reasons why nothing should be done to solve a particular problem. “Yes Minister” is alive and well! {Here is a link to extracts published on youtube)

In 1885, at the height of British Imperial power, there were just 15,000 civil servants – now the NHS alone is Europe’s largest employer and produces the worst cancer survival rates and treatment outcomes in Western Europe.

Civil servants often treat the public more like sheep than customers. Some of them believe, and are on the record as saying, that they see their task as managing the UK’s decline as “gracefully as possible”. I would suggest that perhaps what they really mean by this is: that they have no strategies for reversing the decline; they have given up on the public; and they seek to accelerate the decline, without too many people noticing.

Currently the “Big 4″ run up a bill of £15.5 million gbp a year for public sector and local authority transformation, yet the UK is 17th in the world for value per taxpayer pound and is delivering £1 gbp of value as compared to Singapore’s £3 gbp across all services. What about payment by results? That would shake up the political leaders, the bureaucrats, the Mandarins and their chums in supporting services, like technology, outsourcing, recruitment, consulting etc.

The Singapore Government now has a program of selling its governance model to other countries so that these more enlightened countries can emulate the stunning success of that island state. The UK should look at how that country is run and apply the remorseless logic of Lee Quan Yew to the UK public sector, to overseas investment, defense, procurement, productivity, inward investment, education, immigration, crime, and punishment etc.

Over and above that, most of the UK’s institutions need to have a value-for-money test applied to them and those beyond their “sell by date” must be cut down to size, stripped of power or abolished.

Policing, the judiciary and the prison service should remain in public hands but most other things, as proposed by Dr Alf, should be outsourced. It’s the best way to focus attention on effective public service and value-for-money.

John Gelmini


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