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Public Works is UNISON Scotland's campaign for jobs, services, fair taxation and the Living Wage. This blog will provide news and analysis on the delivery of public services in Scotland. We welcome comments and if you would like to contribute to this blog, please contact Dave Watson d.watson@unison.co.uk. For other information on what's happening in UNISON Scotland please visit our website.

Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Savings Halved

The two articles published yesterday on the “ground breaking initiative” in the west midlands in the west midlands give a slightly different spin on the project. The councils’ press release regarding their “innovative commercial company” which will ”drive economic growth service integration and trigger millions of pounds in savings” is full of gushing praise: they are “marking a milestone” as three councils and the police and fire services have signed a formal agreement to set up a company to manage their property assets. This is the first time public sector organisations have joined together to form a private company apparently.
We are told that this new venture will deliver gross savings of £58million over ten years. Now you are already thinking that’s only about a million a year per organisation (assuming the savings are evenly spread) and what are the upfront costs that are being invested in the hope of this promised bounty? No details included in that release.
Interestingly on the same day the local government chronicle also commented on the project. Here we find out that the One Public Estate Project had originally claimed it would save £110.7m last July: so predicted savings have already been halved. The Department for Communities and Local Government has supported the project with £150,000 for a feasibility study and the Transformational Challenge Fund for 2014-16 gave £400,000 for the design phase. Herefordshire Council was original included but has now dropped out.
It will be interesting to see what the actual savings end up as.

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