Bristol Budget Conversation – Focus on Central / Support Services

How much do we spend on services for Central / Support Services, and where does this money come from?

We recognise some of the graphics are a little difficult to see on this web page – so you can download a pdf copy of this article where it’s easier to read them

There are three support Directorates making up Central/Support Services.  These are Resources, Transformation and Deputy Chief Executives Department.  In the future these departments will be combined into two, leading to further savings.

Central / Support Services covers a wide range of Council services including:

  • Professional services – Legal, Finance, Human Resources etc.
  • Customer facing services – Council Tax, Customer Service Centre, Land Charges, Registrars etc
  • Support Functions – Information and Communications, Technology, Cleaning, Security, Buildings etc.

Each year we spend a total of £67m on support services (after receiving £19m of external income). Most of these costs are recharged to the frontline services they support.

There are number of support services that attract external income, of which the most significant are Commercial Property such as shops and buildings (£11m), Council Tax administration (£2.3m), Statutory Services such as registering birth, deaths and marriages (£2.6m) and Facilities Management such as external lettings and markets (£1.7m).

The Council Tax collection service receives a government grant of £0.75m towards the cost of tax collection – the Council is due to collect £205m of Council Tax and £188m of Business Rates in 2010/11.

The balance of support costs are financed from the Council’s budget, and therefore from Council Tax and grants from central government.

How do we spend this £67m million?

Central support services net expenditure pie chart

The following table shows the split of this gross expenditure by Service Area:

<table border=1 cellspacing=2 cellpadding=3>
<tr>
<td valign=top><p align=center style=’text-align:center’><b><span
style=’font-family:Arial’><br>
Service</span></b></p></td>
<td valign=top><p align=center style=’text-align:center’><b><span
style=’font-size:10.0pt;font-family:Arial’>Gross
Budget (£m)</span></b></p></td>
<td valign=top><p align=center style=’text-align:center’><b><span
style=’font-size:10.0pt;font-family:Arial’>External
Income</span></b></p>
<p align=center style=’text-align:center’><b><span
style=’font-size:10.0pt;font-family:Arial’>(£m)</span></b></p></td>
<td valign=top><p align=center style=’text-align:center’><b><span
style=’font-size:10.0pt;font-family:Arial’>Net</span></b></p>
<p align=center style=’text-align:center’><b><span
style=’font-size:10.0pt;font-family:Arial’>Expenditure</span></b></p>
<p align=center style=’text-align:center’><b><span
style=’font-size:10.0pt;font-family:Arial’>(£m)</span></b></p></td>
</tr>
<tr>
<td valign=top><p><span style=’font-family:Arial’>Customer
Services</span></p></td>
<td valign=top><p align=center style=’text-align:center’><span
style=’font-family:Arial’>5.9</span></p></td>
<td valign=top><p align=center style=’text-align:center’><span
style=’font-family:Arial’>0</span></p></td>
<td valign=top><p align=center style=’text-align:center’><span
style=’font-family:Arial’>5.9</span></p></td>
</tr>
<tr>
<td valign=top><p>
<st1:place w:st=”on”>
<st1:PlaceName w:st=”on”>
<span
style=’font-family:Arial’>Digital</span><span
style=’font-family:Arial’>
<st1:PlaceType w:st=”on”>
City</span><span
style=’font-family:Arial’> / Green Capital</span></p></td>
<td valign=top><p align=center style=’text-align:center’><span style=’font-family:Arial’>1.0</span></p></td>
<td valign=top><p align=center style=’text-align:center’><span style=’font-family:Arial’>0</span></p></td>
<td valign=top><p align=center style=’text-align:center’><span style=’font-family:Arial’>1.0</span></p></td>
</tr>
<tr>
<td valign=top><p><span style=’font-family:Arial’>Finance,
Audit, Property and Procurement</span></p></td>
<td valign=top><p align=center style=’text-align:center’><span
style=’font-family:Arial’>13.5</span></p></td>
<td valign=top><p align=center style=’text-align:center’><span
style=’font-family:Arial’>11.9</span></p></td>
<td valign=top><p align=center style=’text-align:center’><span
style=’font-family:Arial’>1.6</span></p></td>
</tr>
<tr>
<td valign=top><p><span style=’font-family:Arial’>Information,
Communications and Technology</span></p></td>
<td valign=top><p align=center style=’text-align:center’><span
style=’font-family:Arial’>12.5</span></p></td>
<td valign=top><p align=center style=’text-align:center’><span
style=’font-family:Arial’>0</span></p></td>
<td valign=top><p align=center style=’text-align:center’><span
style=’font-family:Arial’>12.5</span></p></td>
</tr>
<tr>
<td valign=top><p><span style=’font-family:Arial’>Legal</span></p></td>
<td valign=top><p align=center style=’text-align:center’><span
style=’font-family:Arial’>4.4</span></p></td>
<td valign=top><p align=center style=’text-align:center’><span
style=’font-family:Arial’>0</span></p></td>
<td valign=top><p align=center style=’text-align:center’><span
style=’font-family:Arial’>4.4</span></p></td>
</tr>
<tr>
<td valign=top><p><span style=’font-family:Arial’>Council
Tax administration</span></p></td>
<td valign=top><p align=center style=’text-align:center’><span
style=’font-family:Arial’>4.4</span></p></td>
<td valign=top><p align=center style=’text-align:center’><span
style=’font-family:Arial’>2.3</span></p></td>
<td valign=top><p align=center style=’text-align:center’><span
style=’font-family:Arial’>2.1</span></p></td>
</tr>
<tr>
<td valign=top><p><span style=’font-family:Arial’>Media
Communications and Design</span></p></td>
<td valign=top><p align=center style=’text-align:center’><span
style=’font-family:Arial’>2.4</span></p></td>
<td valign=top><p align=center style=’text-align:center’><span
style=’font-family:Arial’>0</span></p></td>
<td valign=top><p align=center style=’text-align:center’><span
style=’font-family:Arial’>2.4</span></p></td>
</tr>
<tr>
<td valign=top><p><span style=’font-family:Arial’>Statutory
Services and Democratic Costs</span></p>
<p><i><span style=’font-size:10.0pt;  font-family:Arial’>(Including Cabinet and Scrutiny functions, elections, the
register office and the coroner’s court &amp; mortuary).  </span></i></p></td>
<td valign=top><p align=center style=’text-align:center’><span
style=’font-family:Arial’>8.3</span></p></td>
<td valign=top><p align=center style=’text-align:center’><span
style=’font-family:Arial’>2.6</span></p></td>
<td valign=top><p align=center style=’text-align:center’><span
style=’font-family:Arial’>5.7</span></p></td>
</tr>
<tr>
<td valign=top><p><span style=’font-family:Arial’>Strategic
Directors, Partnerships and Emergency Planning</span></p></td>
<td valign=top><p align=center style=’text-align:center’><span
style=’font-family:Arial’>2.4</span></p></td>
<td valign=top><p align=center style=’text-align:center’><span
style=’font-family:Arial’>0.2</span></p></td>
<td valign=top><p align=center style=’text-align:center’><span
style=’font-family:Arial’>2.2</span></p></td>
</tr>
<tr>
<td valign=top><p><span style=’font-family:Arial’>Strategic
Human Resources</span></p></td>
<td valign=top><p align=center style=’text-align:center’><span
style=’font-family:Arial’>3.5</span></p></td>
<td valign=top><p align=center style=’text-align:center’><span
style=’font-family:Arial’>0</span></p></td>
<td valign=top><p align=center style=’text-align:center’><span
style=’font-family:Arial’>3.5</span></p></td>
</tr>
<tr>
<td valign=top><p><span style=’font-family:Arial’>Strategy
and Performance</span></p></td>
<td valign=top><p align=center style=’text-align:center’><span
style=’font-family:Arial’>1.7</span></p></td>
<td valign=top><p align=center style=’text-align:center’><span
style=’font-family:Arial’>0</span></p></td>
<td valign=top><p align=center style=’text-align:center’><span
style=’font-family:Arial’>1.7</span></p></td>
</tr>
<tr>
<td valign=top><p><span style=’font-family:Arial’>Transformation</span></p>
<p><i><span style=’font-size:10.0pt;  font-family:Arial’>(Including work to modernise the way the Council provides
services) This is funded by reserves, rather than the Council’s revenue
budget. </span></i></p></td>
<td valign=top><p align=center style=’text-align:center’><span
style=’font-family:Arial’>2.0</span></p></td>
<td valign=top><p align=center style=’text-align:center’><span
style=’font-family:Arial’>0</span></p></td>
<td valign=top><p align=center style=’text-align:center’><span
style=’font-family:Arial’>2.0</span></p></td>
</tr>
<tr>
<td valign=top><p><span style=’font-family:Arial’>Transactional
Finance and HR</span></p>
<p><i><span style=’font-size:10.0pt;  font-family:Arial’>(Including ‘back office’ Finance and HR services, e.g.
paying bills and handling recruitment, which are provided in a shared service
centre)<span class=GramE>.</span> </span></i></p></td>
<td valign=top><p align=center style=’text-align:center’><span
style=’font-family:Arial’>6.2</span></p></td>
<td valign=top><p align=center style=’text-align:center’><span
style=’font-family:Arial’>0.4</span></p></td>
<td valign=top><p align=center style=’text-align:center’><span
style=’font-family:Arial’>5.8</span></p></td>
</tr>
<tr>
<td valign=top><p><span style=’font-family:Arial’>Buildings</span></p></td>
<td valign=top><p align=center style=’text-align:center’><span
style=’font-family:Arial’>7.9</span></p></td>
<td valign=top><p align=center style=’text-align:center’><span
style=’font-family:Arial’>0</span></p></td>
<td valign=top><p align=center style=’text-align:center’><span
style=’font-family:Arial’>7.9</span></p></td>
</tr>
<tr>
<td valign=top><p><span style=’font-family:Arial’>Facilities
Management</span></p></td>
<td valign=top><p align=center style=’text-align:center’><span
style=’font-family:Arial’>9.8</span></p></td>
<td valign=top><p align=center style=’text-align:center’><span
style=’font-family:Arial’>1.7</span></p></td>
<td valign=top><p align=center style=’text-align:center’><span
style=’font-family:Arial’>8.1</span></p></td>
</tr>
<tr>
<td valign=top>&nbsp;</td>
<td valign=top>&nbsp;</td>
<td valign=top>&nbsp;</td>
<td valign=top>&nbsp;</td>
</tr>
<tr>
<td valign=top><p><span style=’font-family:Arial’>Total</span></p></td>
<td valign=top><p align=center style=’text-align:center’><span
style=’font-family:Arial’><span style='” =SUM\(ABOVE\) “‘>85.9</span></span></p></td>
<td valign=top><p align=center style=’text-align:center’><span
style=’font-family:Arial’><span style='” =SUM\(ABOVE\) “‘>19.1</span></span></p></td>
<td valign=top><p align=center style=’text-align:center’><span
style=’font-family:Arial’><span style='” =SUM\(ABOVE\) “‘>66.8</span></span></p></td>
</tr>
</table>

Service

Gross
Budget (£m)

External
Income

(£m)

Net

Expenditure

(£m)

Customer Services

5.9

0

5.9

Digital City / Green Capital

1.0

0

1.0

Finance, Audit, Property and Procurement

13.5

11.9

1.6

Information,Communications and Technology

12.5

0

12.5

Legal

4.4

0

4.4

Council Tax administration

4.4

2.3

2.1

Media, Communications and Design

2.4

0

2.4

Statutory Services and Democratic Costs (Including Cabinet and Scrutiny functions, elections, the
register office and the coroner’s court & mortuary).

8.3

2.6

5.7

Strategic Directors, Partnerships and Emergency Planning

2.4

0.2

2.2

Strategic Human Resources

3.5

0

3.5

Strategy and Performance

1.7

0

1.7

Transformation
(Including work to modernise the way the Council provides
services) This is funded by reserves, rather than the Council’s revenue budget.

2.0

0

2.0

Transactional Finance and HR
(Including ‘back office’ Finance and HR services, e.g.
paying bills and handling recruitment, which are provided in a shared service centre).

6.2

0.4

5.8

Buildings

7.9

0

7.9

Facilities Management

9.8

1.7

8.1

Total

85.9

19.1

66.8

What issues and spending pressures are we facing?

In common with the rest of the public sector, we are anticipating a significant reduction in the level of funding that will be available for support services, although we will not know the details of funding for local government services until central government’s spending review in the Autumn of this year.

Support services exist because frontline services require specialist support to do their jobs, however these services still need to be delivered in a cost effective way.

Support services are facing a number of financial challenges. External income (such as rents from commercial shop, fees from property transactions and land charges) has reduced due to the recession, while support services cover a number of services in need of major investment. The service most in need of investment is information technology, where a costed plan has been developed, which will be paid from dedicated reserves built up over time and from the savings we are making in the operating cost of these services.

How does Bristol’s spending compare with other similar councils?

When it comes to how much we spend on different service areas, it can be difficult to compare the cost of support services, as similar services are often given different names, or provided in different ways, by different local authorities.

When we benchmark the costs of frontline services with other councils, we include the costs of support services into the cost of frontline services, so that we can compare the full costs of the services we provide to residents.

What are we already doing to make our money stretch even further?

Bristol City Council is partway through a comprehensive programme of transformation, which will deliver major savings by changing the way in which the Council operates, in areas such as office accommodation, back-office processes and customer services. These programmes will deliver annual savings of over £20m by 2013/14. Some examples are described below:

Shared Transactional Services centre (STS). The STS is a central point for processing all transactional HR and Finance information, such as advertising vacancies and paying bills. Systems and procedures have been re-designed leading to efficiency savings of £1.4m in 2011/12, rising to £1.9m from 2012/13.

Setting up of a Customer Service Centre (CSC), including Customer Service Points such as Phoenix Court. The CSC is the central point for customers contacting the Council, as the centre evolves more services will be added. The CSC has already saved £0.8m from centralising these services and savings of £1.2m will be delivered in 2012/13 from moving more enquiries to a web based solution

The Council is centralising and restructuring ICT operations. This will save £4.7m by 2012/13, this money being reinvested into ICT equipment to enable the smooth running of the Council’s system and to enable savings in other areas such as use of the internet.

The Council plans to save £2m per year by 2012/13 from a radical review of Facilities Management services such as cleaning, security and vehicles.

The Council has also reviewed the use of office accommodation. We are reducing the number of buildings the Council occupies for office accommodation from 57 to a maximum of 17, which will generate substantial capital receipts (through the sale of buildings) and will reduce running costs by £3.7m from 2015/16. This will be achieved by smarter ways of working e.g. mobile and home working.

We are currently evaluating proposals for new transformational programmes, which will deliver further savings in the coming years.

Please give us your ideas and suggestions

Now we’ve shared lots more background information, do you have any suggestions around how we should spend money on support services in these tough financial times ahead?

We hope you’ll find this useful in helping you give us your thoughts and ideas around our four big questions:

  • Which services, if any, should we consider delivering at a reduced level or even ceasing altogether?
  • Which services might be better provided by other bodies, such as the voluntary sector, or with others, such as the NHS or neighbouring councils?
  • Do you have any other ideas based on your experience for service areas where we could further explore saving money?
  • Are there any service areas from which we should aim to raise more income?

If you prefer to make a private submission of your views, please click here.

22 thoughts on “Bristol Budget Conversation – Focus on Central / Support Services

  1. I think more cuts to staff at the council house would be good, there seems to be too much staff when I went in there. I walked in there and just saw them sitting there doing nothing.

  2. Why is it considered necessary to completely isolate the southern half of our city of Bristol on weekends seemingly every couple of weeks for events held on the main arterial Portway road (which is already severly restricted due to closure of Bridge valley road). Not even the Monte Carlo City racetrack suffers such a regular disruption !
    Such running events could easily be held at a much more convenient location that would not cause such disruption to Citizens ie. why not an Avonmouth to Aust run ?
    Also why even consider a green field sites such as Long Ashton for a Football stadium that causes so much traffic and parking congestion. (similar to that suffered by Memorial Ground neighbours when its spectater capacity was doubled without any thought given whatsoever for provision of additional parking).
    Again there are plenty of brown field alternative sites available (with motorway access) at Avonmouth and where Rolls Royce factories once stood at Filton which are far less intensive residential areas.

  3. This article really isn’t very clear. There should be a small paragraph detailing the activities of EACH department listed on the piechart. How are we supposed to form an opinion about where the cuts should be made if we don’t know exactly what these teams do.

  4. I would suggest the council stops wasting money on unnecessary and often unhelpful traffic management schemes. For example, recently the pavement has been widened for a bus stop close to Redmaid’s school in Westbury on Trym. This has the effect of narrowing the road, which means that it it will easily become blocked when a bus is at the bus stop. This will increase congestion on an already busy road. I will also make it more dangerous for cyclists as they try to overtake a stationary bus; no provision has been made for cyclists, despite Bristol’s claim to be a cycling city.

  5. We should switch of traffic lights on roundabouts from 8pm till 6am.
    Many set of lights should only operate during rush hour.
    the cost in energy consumption will be reduced and pollution from cars ticking over at red lights will be reduced.

    remove all speed cameras except outside of schools’ keep traffic light cameras.

    • Thank you for this comment which was selected for the feedback report and was discussed with the Council’s Cabinet and with Service Directors.

      We are keen to cut down on the number of sets of traffic lights where this can be done safely – and have already carried out a pilot exercise. We’ll be bringing forward further changes in this area – so again watch this space.

  6. First, immediately and completely shut down every service provision unless there is a fiercely challenged but confirmed legal or statutory imperative to provide it.

    Second, if there are any provisions remaining, outsource them to commercial providers.

    Third, if there are any provisions remaining, charge them out to recipients on a cost plus 25% basis.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s