Prison Service to save £35m a year with new shared services model

The Prison Service is on track to save £35m annually after shaking up the way it deals with HR, finance and procurement services, according to its HR director.

Robin Wilkinson said the roll-out of a new shared services model would be completed next year and aimed to radically improve how HR was delivered within the service.

As a result of the changes, the number of head office HR staff has been cut by 370, with some posts transferred to the new shared service centre based in Newport, Wales. About two-thirds of the former heads of personnel in individual prisons are now HR business partners, Wilkinson added, with the remaining third made up from fresh blood.

“The driver behind this [project] was money and it has enabled us to completely transform what we do and how we do it,” he told Personnel Today.

“Both our finance and HR systems were old and needed replacing so we agreed to invest heavily and there was a business case to move to a shared services model. We have had absolute board commitment to driving this through because it was part of our [government required] efficiency savings.”

The final stage will be moving internal and external recruitment into the centre, which Wilkinson said would be the “most challenging” part of the process.

He also admitted he potentially had another 18 months of work to embed the new model into the service, improve processes and tackle cynicism among managers.

“If you ask individual managers they might say this model doesn’t seem as good because they are doing stuff they never had to previously,” Wilkinson said. “They used to have HR people running around doing line management tasks, so you will get different views of shared services from different people.”

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