Kent councils’ shared services move aims to save £2.3m

Four council HR functions will merge from this October in a bid to save £2.3m over the next five years.

The move will see 10 HR jobs cut as Canterbury city council joins with Shepway, Dover and Thanet district councils to provide a shared services HR function.

The four councils are currently advertising for a £65,000-per-year head of HR shared services to “take a strong lead on the implementation, development and ongoing delivery of this new joint service”.

Wendy Head, director of organisation performance at Shepway council and project lead for the move to shared services, told Personnel Today that the decision to create one HR department for the area will create “huge efficiencies”. However, she could not rule out the possibility that the four current head-of-HR posts – with each incumbent likely to apply for the new role – could be among the 10 job cuts.

She said: “The heads of HR could potentially go but the new role is a big step up. There could be opportunities within the team for the current heads.”

She added that the new structure will not be decided until the new head of HR shared services is appointed, but while jobs will not differ fundamentally, many people will be given opportunities to broaden their roles or advance within the department.

“There will be a lot more scope to get involved in a wider variety of issues as staff will be dealing with four different organisations and they are all quite different in their makeup,” she said.

“They will be able to gain valuable experience on a broader base of HR than they would within a small authority.”

The decision to create a shared service was first mooted five years ago when the council HR departments identified the need for new payroll systems.

The predicted £2.3m savings over the next five years will come from the HR job cuts, from having to purchase only one new payroll system, and from streamlining processes.

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