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Major reviews target savings and efficiencies

Issued: 19 Aug 2010

A number of key strategies, which are aimed at delivering more efficient services and significant savings, have been agreed by The Highland Council's Resources Committee.

The reviews surround making better use of council properties, sharing services with partner agencies, reducing the costs of back office support for council services and making it easier on the web for the public to access information and pay for/book services.

An action plan to manage the Council's assets will see the pace of change accelerate with priority given to creating a corporate property portfolio and reviews made of the Council's offices in Inverness and Dingwall. The Council has 30 properties in Inverness and 12 in Dingwall and a target is to reduce this to one or two offices in each location within five years.

An early action will be to reorganise duties within Housing and Property - at no additional cost - to create a post of Corporate Property Asset Manager, reporting to the Asset Management Board.

Earlier, the Committee agreed to review the way it provides business support and back office functions. The aim is to simplify processes and create a single business support team serving all services. The project is part of a wider programme of corporate improvements, which aim to deliver £18.6 million worth of savings before April 2012.

Members also agreed that the Council should make every endeavour to work with partner agencies to share services, such as business advice, recruitment, procurement, broadband services and housing services. An example of sharing premises is at Golspie, where the Council's Service Point is co-located with Northern Constabulary.

And finally, the Council agreed a web strategy which aims to increase the opportunity for the public to pay for services and book services online.

A report on customer services will be considered at the next meeting of the Resources Committee on 6 October.

Councillor Carolyn Wilson, Chairman of Resources Committee, said: "Given the extent of the budget savings to be identified by the Council, we have to adapt quickly to change and find ways of doing things simpler and more cost effectively.

"We are looking at big issues across the Council and must make early progress to meet the demands for meeting our budget targets."

© 2010 Highland Public Services Partnership.
Project part-financed by the European Union (European Regional Development Fund) within the INTERREG IIIB Northern Periphery Programme