Hampshire County Council hires 100 people as it takes on work for London boroughs

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AROUND 100 people are set to be employed as the county council takes on back-office work from three boroughs in the capital.

Hampshire County Council runs the Shared Services Partnership, which handles finance, payroll and HR for Hampshire police, the crime commissioner, the fire and rescue service, and Oxfordshire County Council.

But now as three London boroughs join the scheme, Hampshire’s council is hiring 100 extra people to deal with the work.

As reported by The News, the scheme, H3, was branded ‘toxic’ after a raft of errors, including paying police officers incorrect wages and sending the widow of an officer his P45 in the post.

Now called shared services, the scheme currently employs 350 people and is bucking the trend in hiring rather than firing council workers at a time of cuts.

Hampshire County Council has said it saves £2.7m a year from the partnership, which was set up in 2014.

Council leader Roy Perry said it was ‘ground-breaking, with savings made by other authorities involved.

The new 100 workers will be based in Winchester, not London.

Cllr Perry said: ‘Partners have already delivered savings of around 20 per cent, and it is now the biggest public sector shared services partnership in the UK – delivering combined back office functions to the county council, Hampshire Constabulary, Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service, the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner for Hampshire, and Oxfordshire County Council.

‘Three London borough local authorities are also due to join the partnership later this year, which will bring the total number of staff supported across the combined partners to over 90,000.

‘Consequently, we are running a number of recruitment campaigns between now and the autumn, to put in place additional capacity to support this ongoing growth – which will provide significant employment and career opportunities for all ages and backgrounds in the Winchester area.

‘Fundamentally, the driving principle behind the growth of our shared services remains to deliver the best deal for residents from sharing costs and building shared capacity across a greater number of public sector partners, while continuing to support local public services as far as possible for the future.’

The senior councillor said it had allowed his authority to keep council tax low – and had allowed it to avoid compulsory redundancies and ‘maintained good staff morale’.

He said: ‘Adopting efficient, modern business processes and technology across local public services, and sharing services, is one of the ways Hampshire has managed to keep council tax at one the lowest levels in the country.

‘With on-going financial pressures and the challenges of having to deliver a lot more with less money, all areas of the public sector are faced with finding smarter, more cost-effective ways of doing things.

‘It’s never been more important to look for opportunities to collaborate, and more can be achieved by working together. Reducing duplication and building economies of scale enables us to target resource where it’s needed most – on the frontline, supporting the most vulnerable.’

The scheme has been ‘enabling organisations to reduce their back office overheads and increase resilience’.