The two Councils have been working in partnership since 2014 with the joining together of management and staff teams which has saved £1.8m a year.
Both authorities agreed in 2016 to create a single new council to serve both geographical areas and deliver a further £3.1m per year savings to the public purse.
The “Transformation” programme to improve services and be more efficient will allow the new Council to focus even more on tackling customer needs and improving services through new technology and making processes more modern and efficient.
It will be more responsive and flexible to give customers a “seamless” service, as far as possible, dealing with a single point of contact.
As the Transformation programme has progressed TDBC and WSC have identified opportunities to increase the savings being delivered which will help to balance the books at the same time as protecting and improving services.
With the recruitment process nearing completion, it is now apparent that the overall redundancy costs of transformation will exceed earlier budgets. However, this will be offset by the additional costs being recovered through savings in less than three years so still providing value for money for tax payers and tenants.
A report to the Shadow Scrutiny Committee outlines revised figures for staff opting for voluntary redundancy which requires additional funding for the Transformation Programme Budget of £2.387m.
It proposes that Taunton Deane Borough Council approve extra funding of £1.88m and West Somerset Council approve extra funding of £507,000.
There are also small increases in other costs in order to maintain service provision during the transition period and for a short time after the new structure is implemented.
The report proposes that TDBC approve extra funding for this of £564,000 and WSC of £121,000.
The total savings target for the business case would be revised upwards to £3.5m per year with a net pay back period of 2.7 years which is still regarded as very good in terms of value for money. The increased savings will make a positive contribution to the new Council Medium Term Financial Plan.
Chief Executive, Penny James, said: “We want to ensure service standards are maintained whilst changes are being implemented, so we plan to invest more in this during the period of changing how we deliver services. We are still very much on track to deliver financially viable local government services in our area in the future.”
Good progress is being made on preparations for the new council which comes into being in April 2019.
The Boundary Commission warding review recommendations have been published and, subject to parliamentary approval, Somerset West and Taunton Council will be made up of 59 elected members. This a key milestone, essential to planning for the May 2019 elections.
Further constitutional orders are progressing through the system with Ministry of Housing Local Government and Communities (MHCLG).
Becky Howat, Public & Media Relations Officer 01823 219772