Wandsworth shared staffing structure

Frequently asked questions and answers about the Richmond/Wandsworth Shared Staffing Arrangement.

Does this mean the Councils have merged and there is effectively ‘one Council’

No - Richmond and Wandsworth Councils remain two different local authorities - each with their own elected members, local policies to reflect local agendas and locally set Council Tax rates.

Will there be one elected Leader and Cabinet across two Councils?

No - the Shared Staffing Arrangement is about sharing staffing to deliver savings only. The sovereignty of the two boroughs is unaffected. Both still hold separate local elections and the majority party will still nominate their own cabinets and leaders.

How can you reconcile the local/sovereignty if services are merged?

It is staffing structures that have been merged, not services. Elected members may agree to commission some services jointly but this will still respect individual council priorities.

Why have Richmond Council done this?

Due to a reduction in Government funding, Richmond needs to save £30m over the next four years, of which around £8m has already been identified. The £10m estimated savings through this proposed joint staffing structure, will make the funding gap more manageable and protect front-line services as far as possible.

What is a shared staffing structure?

There are different types of shared services. In the Richmond and Wandsworth case, the two councils remain separate, with their own elected members, but there is a single staffing structure for both Councils. For example, there is a single Chief Executive and a single Director of Resources for the two authorities.

Is Council Tax now the same in both Wandsworth and Richmond?

No - Each Council will set Council Tax locally.

Why didn't the Council just cut the staff and not join up with another borough?

The Council has been very successful in achieving savings and reductions in overall costs to date. It starts as one of the lowest cost Councils in London but that means finding further reductions is increasingly challenging. Joining staffing structures will contribute towards us being able to better protect services.

Isn’t Wandsworth very different to Richmond?

There are differences of course but many similarities too.

Wasn’t there another way to make the savings?

It should be stressed that the joining of staffing structures will not meet all the savings the Council needs to achieve over the next four years. There are lots of different ways in which the Council has and can make savings, but with the scale of funding cuts that we and others face it is likely that we will need a combination of all of them, if we are to achieve the targets and help maintain services.

Will Richmond residents end up paying for Wandsworth services?

No - each Council will pay for the costs of the services provided for their residents.

Is this a Wandsworth ‘take over’?

No - The shared service includes staff from both authorities and each council is clear about this. Richmond’s councillors continue to be responsible for Richmond services, with our own decision making processes and standards.

Updated: 20 October 2016