North Somerset Council recognised that they were faced with increasing demand for local government services but reduced resources to deliver them. To meet these challenges they urgently needed a means to gain more capacity and capability for their transformational plans, as well as reducing the costs of their core services.
To address these challenges North Somerset Council entered into a strategic partnership with Agilisys on 1st October 2010. The contract period is10 years with a possible 5 year extension, and includes the provision of additional resources to support the Council’s transformation plans in addition to and delivery of core services. The Partnership employs approximately 350 people. This includes staff from Liberata, our principal sub-contractor, as well as additional staff employed to provide Citizens Advice through our contact centre.
The overriding challenge for North Somerset Council is to reduce costs to enable the Council to achieve their objective of making £47.3m of savings from the baseline budget by 2015 whilst maintaining or enhancing the provision of services to customers. Agilisys are contracted to reduce the cost of the core services transferred by the Council by £16.4m over the lifetime of the contract whilst supporting a continuous improvement programme and maintaining customer satisfaction
The Council also had a number of priority projects complementary to their transformation programme which they sought external capacity and capability to aid delivery.. This included a new financial management system and an amalgamation of Council office accommodation into 2 sites. The Council also sought a partner who could support the regional job creation agenda, and support the Council in the development of their Apprenticeship and Corporate Social Responsibility programmes.
Agilisys and our principal sub-contractor Liberata assumed responsibility for the delivery of the following core services: Customer Services, ICT, Business Improvement / Transformation, Procurement, HR & Payroll, Exchequer Services, Revenues and Benefits, Facilities Management and Print Unit and Scanning. A commitment was made to invest £4.1m to improve the delivery of the transferred services of which £3m has already been invested. Service improvements included the implementation of a new financial management (Agresso Business World) and HR & Payroll system (Midland i-Trent).
An office amalgamation project was undertaken whereby 18 office locations have been combined into 2 sites one of which co-locates other local public sector service providers with Council staff all of whom are supported by Agilisys ICT. This co-location also creates opportunities for joint working which in turn has potential for significant cost and service improvement benefits.
Transformational projects which include smarter working and changing the way in which customers interact with the Council are also being delivered. These projects use ICT as enablers to change working practices, improve process and reduce inefficiencies, in order to improve customer services and reduce costs.
The contract required that 250 new jobs be created over the lifetime of the contract. In the first 18 months130 have already been created of which around 80 have been created by using North Somerset as one of our Customer Services hubs to deliver the Citizens Advice service via our Contact Centre in Weston-super-Mare.
The commitment to create 100 apprenticeships over the life of the partnership has resulted in 13 apprentices being employed already in a variety of roles many of whom are undertaking vocational training in procurement or human resources leading to nationally recognised qualifications which will equip the individuals well for their future careers.
Transformation projects have resulted in cost savings totalling £7.8m being achieved in services retained by the Council and in schools. The investment in a new Financial Management System has resulted in cost reductions in the provision of financial services to the Council as well as improved capture of spend data enabling better understanding of where money is being spent and how the supply chain can be leveraged to further reduce costs.
Savings of £618k were achieved during year 1 of the contract for the core services provided by Agilisys and our subcontractor. We are on track to deliver £16m of savings from these services over the lifetime of the contract. We are also on track to deliver our commitment of 250 new jobs and 100 apprenticeships.. The contract also delivers 240 volunteer days which are spent supporting local charities and community groups and demonstrates the commitment Agilisys has to benefitting the local area.