South and Vale joint working
South Oxfordshire and Vale of White Horse councils have been working together since 2005 when they jointly appointed Capita to provide a range of financial services. In 2008 David Buckle was appointed as joint chief executive and since then the pace of integration has quickened significantly.
In early 2011, over 100 staff were working jointly across South and Vale and now a year on, almost all staff work jointly. The two councils have now integrated most of their services, although delivery still takes place from both Crowmarsh and Abingdon. However, each council still retains is own distinctive identity and, in certain key areas, offer different levels of service to their residents reflecting both corporate priorities and different financial bases.
As well as the Capita contract, South and Vale now also have a joint contract with Biffa to provide waste services. This is proving very successful with recycling rates in both areas right at the top of league tables. We have recently agreed a shared contract for grounds maintenance, and in 2014 will agree joint leisure contracts across the two districts. The savings made by the two councils from joint working now comfortably exceed £4 million, although it is becoming steadily more difficult to distinguish savings through joint working from those generated through business improvement. As integration goes deeper the two processes become increasingly intertwined, each feeding off the other.
An added benefit is that service performance is also improving. The councils monitor a range of key indicators presented in a monthly board report. These show that service quality is generally high with some major improvements in areas that have previously been of concern, such as the turn round time and accuracy of benefit assessments.
Last reviewed: 16 - 01 - 2012