Monday, October 25, 2010

City Hall Austerity

On Thursday the budget committee received an update from Nicholas Griffin, the Mayor's budget advisor, who was appointed earlier this year and has embarked on a raft of projects designed to get better value from the administration.

Since July there has been much progress:

Working with Westminster City Council, who pioneered this approach, we are seeking to reduce the number of IT hardware and software suppliers contracted across the GLA family. This can be quite challenging as each functional body has evolved its own systems over time, but streamlining suppliers will make it easier for departments to work together as well as allowing economies of scale. A similar approach is being pursued by Croydon and Waltham Forest councils.

Internal audit functions will be combined for the different bodies, reducing the number of auditors and allowing more economies of scale. One beneficial consequence will be to create a standard approach to audit reports across the Greater London Authority, with more transparency and democratic oversight.

The real possibility of sharing buildings to reduce estates costs is also being pursued. Space created by staff cuts at City Hall will be used to house staff currently working in other buildings which will then become surplus. The emergency services are looking at sharing new buildings, a forerunner being the site at Harold Hill where a new fire station and police base coexist. Combined fire and ambulance stations are also being considered. A new GLA wide buildings database will enable better use of space.

A 20% savings target has been set for procurement of services and supplies. There will also be more sharing of payroll services and committee support across the GLA.

Political Groups are not immune in the Age of Austerity and a paper was presented to declare savings achieved in each group's administrative support during the year. We have made a substantial contribution, with the Conservative Group underspending the budget by £189,000, roughly £17,000 for each of our eleven members.

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