Hampshire County Council’s new Chief Executive takes up post on Monday 2 November – as the new Head of Paid Service for a local authority now widely regarded as a national leader in shared and traded public services, as well as for the quality of its services to Hampshire residents.
John Coughlan was appointed to the post earlier this month. In taking up the reigns as Chief Executive, he will be responsible not only for managing an overall annual budget of around £2 billion, a workforce of around 37,000 and for providing services for 1.3 million people across the county, but also a modern business operating as part of an ‘extended organisation’.
Commenting, County Council Leader, Councillor Roy Perry, said: “Since 2008, and in response to continued cuts to Hampshire’s grant from Government, as well as demographic pressures, the County Council has implemented an unprecedented efficiency and transformation programme which has delivered £240 million in savings, to date. Part of the approach to delivering these savings has involved developing new ways of working more efficiently – including sharing and trading services to other public sector partners, and creating an ‘extended organisation’ which operates beyond simply Hampshire, working with partners across the public sector, to generate savings and income.
“Partnerships now exist with organisations such as Oxfordshire County Council, and Isle of Wight Council, as well as joint working arrangements with Hampshire Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Service with whom we share support functions – reducing costs in areas such as IT, and Human Resources and delivering combined savings of up to £4 million each year. Similarly, our Architects and Surveyors work on projects for other councils across southern England – earning significant fee income to help Hampshire’s finances, and keeping an excellent team together for the benefit of Hampshire.
“This shared and traded services approach has placed Hampshire County Council firmly at the forefront of joint working practices nationally. In this new era of public service delivery, we welcome our new Chief Executive, John Coughlan and ‘lower the Saltire’ in saying goodbye to our outgoing Scottish Chief Executive, Andrew Smith.”
With public sector budgets expected to remain under pressure in the future, and the need for Hampshire County Council to deliver further anticipated savings of £98 million by April 2017, the Authority remains vigilant in bearing down on its costs and staffing. Senior management levels have been reduced by 25 per cent – with fewer people on the top salary scales, and personnel structures modified so work is covered at lower salary levels, and at lower cost. Voluntary redundancy has also been offered to staff as a way of keeping compulsory job losses to a minimum.
Commenting, Councillor Perry said: “As a result of our successful approach in shared and traded services, we find ourselves in a position whereby staff numbers in some areas within the Council are reducing (as specific roles are deleted), at the same time as roles and staff numbers increase in other areas – for example, where our sold businesses are expanding – employees from partner organisations move across to join the County Council. Any new posts are being funded by additional income, so are not adding to the council tax burden. The proof of the efficacy of our approach is that our Council Tax has in fact remained at the same level for six years – the second lowest council tax of any county.”