When councils make unexplained (and self-congratulatory) claims that they have made savings at the end of a joint venture, it will usually raise a series of questions.
So well done to Nigel Behan of the Unite union for putting a series of FOI questions to Taunton Deane Borough Council about its joint venture with IBM, as part of Southwest One.
In an “Efficiency Plan” published on its website last month, Taunton Deane
Borough Council announced that it was “part of the ground-breaking Southwest
One shared services joint venture partnership, between Somerset County
Council, Avon and Somerset Police and IBM”.
“This ten year partnership, which is now drawing to a close, has delivered significant savings to the Council and has made an important contribution to our finances.”
Unite is not so sure. Its officials believe the joint venture has, for Taunton Deane, broken even at best. Its FOI questions to the council:
- Please will you provide the unitary charge payable by TDBC to
Southwest One/IBM for each financial year from 2007-2008 to date?
- For each financial year since 2007-2008 what was the cost of
letting and managing the contract – including legal costs, procurement costs etc. etc.?
- Re IT – software, hardware and peripherals. What was the value in 2007 of all IT (Hardware, software, peripherals and infrastructure) and what is the value of these assets now, ie what has been the depreciation on this asset class since 2007? What will cost of replacing these?
- What are the net savings achieved by Southwest One for Taunton Deane Borough Council for each financial year since 2007-2008? Will you define “significant savings” (provide a measurable test)?
“Lies, Damned Lies and Statistics”