Saving money centrally

THURROCK Council has been looking closely at ways it can save money — and not hit front line services.

And on Wednesday (24 November) evening’s meeting of the full council, Cllr Oliver Gerrish, portfolio holder for central services, outlined some of the ways this had been done.

He said: “The current financial situation is unprecedented and it is within this context that we must dramatically re-examine everything that we do.”

He highlighted the council’s spend on mobile telephones, explaining how a saving had been achieved simply from cancelling unused mobile phone contracts.

“This is saving us more than £10,000 a year and — although not a huge amount, is a great example of us tackling waste in the truest sense.”

Next, he said, was agency staff where a 25 per cent year to date saving had already been made with “the total spend projected to fall from £8.2 million in the previous financial year, 2009/10 (£9 million including casuals) to around £6m this year”.

In addition the council was looking to “identify a managed service provider for temporary, agency and interim staff” and cut spending further still.

Cllr Gerrish also said the council was looking closely at its use or printers, scanners and photocopiers and considering switching to “multi-functional devices”.

He said: “We are in the final stages with two potential partners, and hoping to appoint one in January with devices in place by March. Based on the initial business case analysis, we believe

that we could be saving £50,000 a year– that’s a lot of money that we could be spending elsewhere.”

Cllr Gerrish said these were quick wins, but he was looking at longer-term projects too, highlighting “cashless working”. At the moment Thurrock handles around £8 million in cash annually tying up “resources we might employ elsewhere”.

He said: “Let us examine ‘paypoint’ schemes, where residents can use local businesses to make payments, rather than the civic offices. This would make services more accessible for residents, cheaper for us, and good for local organisations. It is fundamental changes in approach such as this that we must continue to advance.”

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