Surrey and East Sussex councils join forces to 'save millions'

Surrey and East Sussex County Councils are planning to join forces in an attempt to bolster their buying power and save money.

The two local authorities are finalising a proposal to work together to drive harder bargains with suppliers they both use.

They claim their collective purchasing power will drive down shared costs by millions of pounds each year.

The partnership will be considered by East Sussex's cabinet on 24 July.

Surrey County Council leader David Hodge said: "The public sector should be seen as a single team co-operating to save money wherever possible while continuing to provide excellent services."

Peter Jones, leader of East Sussex County Council, said: "By pooling our resources we will be able to drive better deals."

Analysis

Both authorities have an important role in the SE7, a group of seven South East councils formed to bring down costs and improve services.

Surrey says it has saved £56m in the past two financial years by doing better deals with contractors.

It's not the first time that our local councils have looked at sharing services.

Just last month Surrey County Council said it wanted to work more closely with Buckinghamshire County Council in the future.

In 2010, Reigate and Banstead Borough Council announced it was working with Kent County Council on areas such as finance, procurement, and benefits in order to save £4m.

Meanwhile councils in West Sussex are sharing office space.

The union Unison has expressed concern in the past about the impact on staff and the possibility of job losses because of this type of scheme.

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