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Exploring a joint Borough of Poole and Stour Valley Partnership Revenues & Benefits Service

Borough of Poole and the three authorities within the Stour Valley Partnership, Christchurch Borough Council, East Dorset District Council and North Dorset District Council, are exploring the possibility of working together to deliver revenues and benefits services.

A business case, which sets out the options available to all four councils and details how existing services could be brought together, will be considered by councillors this month.

The business case will be considered by members of Borough of Poole’s Efficiency and Effectiveness Overview and Scrutiny Committee and by members of the Stour Valley Partnership Joint Committee on Monday 22 July.

If approved by these committees, the business case will then go through each council’s democratic process and reach full council at each authority to make a final decision at the end of September.

Head of Finance for Christchurch and East Dorset Councils, Ian Milner said: “By working in partnership, the Stour Valley Partnership and Borough of Poole will be in a position to create a strong and resilient revenues and benefits service, keeping jobs local and maintaining an efficient and accessible local service for our customers.”

Head of Financial Services at Borough of Poole, Adam Richens said: “The key aim of establishing a partnership between the four authorities would be to ensure the continued delivery of local revenues and benefits services for residents, with an emphasis on improving the customer experience and delivering better outcomes for local claimants and customers.

“Bringing these services together could make savings, improve resilience and the authorities’ abilities to adapt to changes being introduced by the Government’s Welfare Reforms.”

Finance and Resources Manager at North Dorset District Council, Andy Smith said: “The Stour Valley Partnership between Christchurch, East Dorset and North Dorset Councils has been very successful to date and working with Borough of Poole will allow us to build on this success and increase our local partnership working.”

The Stour Valley Partnership was identified by the Department for Communities and Local Government in December 2012 as an example of good practice for joint working and delivered £350,000 in savings for taxpayers in the first year of implementation.

 It is envisaged that joining with Borough of Poole will deliver further savings and efficiencies and will help the councils mitigate the reduction in subsidy grants from central government.If approved, the Stour Valley and Poole Partnership would be implemented in phases, starting with a shared management structure while maintaining current operational services from April 2014.

The second phase, which would look at bringing together the operational services for Borough of Poole and the Stour Valley Partnership, is expected to be reviewed by the councils in 2014.