A number of local authorities across Gloucestershire and Oxfordshire have launched a shared services business system designed to trim a total of £675,000 per year off back office costs.

The partnership, known as “GO Shared Services”, will be providing finance, procurement, HR and payroll services to Cotswold District Council, Cheltenham Borough Council, Forest of Dean District Council and West Oxfordshire District Council.

The services will be supported by the Agresso Local Government Platform, a centralised sector specific enterprise resource planning system from UNIT4.

The shared service agreement also includes providing services to two other clients so far. These are Cheltenham Borough Homes - a Cheltenham Borough Council arms length management organisation (ALMO) - and Ubico, a local authority company owned by Cheltenham Borough Council and Cotswold District Council. Both these clients are using the ERP system for their back office functions. More clients are expected to come on board in the future.

Cheltenham BC councillor Colin Hay, who chaired the GO strategic partnership management board, said: "Our shared service is already generating interest from several local authorities and is being seen as a model to follow.”

Cotswold DC councillor Barry Dare, who is responsible for GO Shared Services at Cotswold, said: "We can now do more with less and, in many instances, do it better because we are bringing together a pool of expertise and experience."

As a result of the shared service agreement there will be some job losses, however.

"Obviously this will have a direct effect on officers currently working in finance/payroll and HR/procurement as they get to grips with the new shared ERP system.

“This will inevitably lead to an overall reduction in the number of staff required to deliver related transactional services, and arrangements are already underway to manage this sensitively," said Go Shared Services.

In other public sector shared services news the police forces of Leicestershire, Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire have agreed to share an HR back office system as part of a £2.3 million contract, in a bid to reduce costs by £900,000 a year.