Council savings are on target

Scarborough Town Hall
Scarborough Town Hall

A PROGRAMME to streamline council services and identify areas where cuts can be made is on target a year after it was introduced.

Scarborough Council is working with Northgate Public Services and so far the work of Customer First and Revenues and Benefits departments have been scrutinised.

Members of the council’s Resources Scrutiny Committee heard the latest in a series of regular progress reports from Hilary Jones, the council’s strategic director, who said that the programme was part of an effort to save £2.3 million over a five year period.

She added: “In terms of financial targets the programme is on target to make the savings. But it’s not just about financial targets it’s about managing and improving services and skills transfer.” Northgate Public Services was appointed as the council’s improvement and efficiency partner in December 2010.

Its fees are one-off payments, which do not impact on base budget savings, and are linked to agreed savings outcomes.

According to Mrs Jones’ report the cost-cutting programme of efficiency savings within the council has already saved a total of £397,104 – and is expected to deliver savings of £545,685 at the end of the current financial year ahead of the £495,160 target set out in the agreement. Under the Government’s Comprehensive Spending Review, which was announced in autumn 2010, significant cuts were delivered to the council’s annual grant funding settlement of 14.6 per cent for 2011/2012 and 9.2 per cent for 2012/2013.

But in December 2010 the pension review identified an additional £1 million costs for the council over a three-year period.

Mrs Jones said staff were encouraged to adopt a “right first time” approach and, where possible, claims were processed when the claimant was present. She said 80 per cent of calls were answered within a 20 second target using new technology.

Cllr Eric Broadbent said the council’s call centre was the envy of North Yorkshire. He added: “I’ve not heard of any complaints that people have been talked to in a hostile way.”