Publica Group features in national transformation toolkit
Publica Group is one of the case studies in a new national ‘Transformation in Localities Toolkit’ launched at the District Councils’ Network Spring Assembly.
The District Councils’ Network toolkit aims to provide district councils with a practical evidence base to work together. Publica Group formed in November 2017 from four partner councils (Cheltenham Borough Council, Cotswold, Forest of Dean and West Oxfordshire District Councils) to deliver both more efficient and improved services to customers.
The comprehensive guide, developed in partnership with Grant Thornton UK LLP, offers pioneering solutions and examples of best practice from District Councils, including those involved in Publica Group, to respond creatively to funding reductions from central government.
David Neudegg, Managing Director of Publica Group, who attended the launch said: “We are really pleased to be recognised as a model of good practice. By creating a new employment approach we believe we can offer our councils access to a wider range of specialist advice and our staff better opportunities to develop their skills and experience.”
Cllr James Mills, Leader of West Oxfordshire District Council who also attended, said: “The evolution of Publica will see its partner councils save £41m over the next decade without any detrimental impact on frontline services.
“It is a real innovation in local government and can easily serve as a blueprint for council service provision across the country so it is little wonder that it is already being recognised as an example of best practice.”
Cllr Tim Gwilliam, Leader of the Forest of Dean District Council added: “Over the past decade the Forest of Dean District Council has welcomed the move towards sharing services. We have learned about the benefits of partnership working and collaboration, which allows us to draw on a much wider pool of experience and expertise. As a result we have generated substantial savings without any detrimental effect to the level of service that we offer to the customer. The formation of Publica builds on this successful formula and enables us to make further savings while continuing to improve our services.”
Cllr Nick Parsons, Deputy Leader of Cotswold District Council said: “During the last decade, Cotswold District Council has learned how to make the most of collaboration and partnership, and we’ve generated substantial savings without any detriment to the services we offer. The formation of Publica builds on this successful formula and enables us to make further savings while improving our services. We are also enjoying the benefits of drawing on a much wider pool of experience and expertise.”
Cllr Steve Jordan, Leader of Cheltenham Borough Council added: “A major advantage of Publica is that it combines the ability to get high quality of service with economies of scale by sharing services but also allows the flexibility for individual councils to opt in with the services that work for them.”
Publica Group is a newly established, ground-breaking company wholly owned and created by four Councils to provide services to local communities on their behalf. By creating one employer for employees across the Councils they can provide better, more cost-effective services. The four councils are: Cheltenham Borough Council, Cotswold, Forest of Dean and West Oxfordshire District Councils. Creating Publica allows the Councils to meet their cost saving targets while protecting the services they provide to communities. In November 2017, employees from Cotswold, Forest of Dean and West Oxfordshire District Councils transferred to Publica Group. The move to this lower cost and more efficient company model is projected to save £5.6m per annum by 2020; collectively it is projected to save the councils £41 million over 10 years.
Residents and customers still deal directly with their Council, as they always have, and the Council is responsible for the services provided. Each Council continues to have its own elected Councillors who make independent decisions taking account of the needs of its local community. Employees continue to work in each council location.