Dr Alf is correct.
Having been personally involved in the largest piece of Local Authority transformation ever undertaken in the UK (An East Anglian County Council), I know that there is a scarcity of ambition for what can and should be achieved in this area.
We have 43 English County Councils, 43 constabularies, 43 fire commands.
In Scotland, we have 8 County Councils but police and fire commands have been merged to form 1 of each.
Wales, an economic basket-case of monumental proportions we have 6 County Councils, 6 police constabularies and 6 fire commands and Northern Ireland has 6 Counties, 1 Police Service of Northern Ireland and 6 fire commands.
On top of this, we have Unitary Authorities and District and Borough Councils making a total of 3,500 councils.
Most County Councils have their own call centers, some of which are shared with the police, emergency services and District Councils but many which are standalone.
Others outsource Highways to Mouchel, Education/Childrens Services to Capita PLC, Parking to people like Serco PLC , street cleaning to Serco Plc and strategically insource HR and IT to people like Capita PLC and IBM and BT Global Services.
Worker productivity in Local Authorities is just 32%, or 70 days of actual work out of a possible 220 working days (Source:Knox D’Arcy and ONS); absenteeism is 9 days a year on average, versus 6 or less for the private sector and layering in terms of bogus grades and “assistants” is rife creating overmanning and large numbers of non jobs.
Out of 10,000 employees in the County Council I worked in which was a 3 star authority (1 star-bottom , 2 star second from bottom, 3 star upper 25%, 4 star top 10%), I calculated, as did IBM Global Services that services could be improved to Lean /EFQM standards and staff numbers cut by 6,500 people).
Applying that logic to the UK as a whole one could:
1) Reduce the number of councils to 12 for England,1 for Wales,1 for Scotland and 1 for Norther n Ireland and 1 for Greater London
2) Abolish all District,Borough,Metropolitan Borough and London Borough Councils,abolish City Councils and so called Unitary Authorities.
Replace all of them with a rotating panel of outsourced provision
3) Create 4 shared services centers for police, fire, ambulance, social services and general communications for England, 1 for Scotland, 1 for Wales, 1 for London and 1 for Northern Ireland and have outsourced mirrored contingency,overflowing and disaster recovery provision on a 1 for 1 basis.
4) Create structures with no more than 5 layers (top to bottom) and spans of control of 1 to 10 people.
Abolish assistant roles, the revolving door and apply strict headcount limits per function
5) Outsource all non-core functions and purchasing, facilities management, website hosting and printing.
Create formula for capturing “embedded value ” in each outsourcing contract and ensure that outsourcing agreements are prepared and negotiated by skilled outsourcing lawyers not council officials and legal departments who do not know what they are doing and are prone ,to quote the “Donald” to having “their lunch eaten ” by outsourcing lawyers acting for the suppliers of outsourcing services.)