Assembly Members have long been sceptical about Boris Johnson’s promises of delivering huge savings by sharing back office services within the Greater London Authority Group.
The promise is to make “savings of £450m over two years from the sharing of services and collaborative procurement” in order to protect frontline services.
Mayoral advisor Nick Griffin wrote about the importance of the plans in an article for MayorWatch last year.
But AMs from all parties doubt that officials in some GLA bodies want to play nicely with their neighbours and will seek instead to protect fiefdoms.
In June this year, Tory AM and London Fire Authority Chair Brian Coleman highlighted that just £1.4m in savings had been delivered across the entire GLA.
Coleman said most of that saving stemmed from his own authority “sharing committee services with the GLA core family.”
He also summed up the feeling of many AMs when he said: “I do not think any of us in this Chamber think it is going to be easy, not least because of the entrenched positions.
“It defeated the last Mayor and his team of advisers. Sadly, so far in your excellent administration it has defeated you and your first class team of advisers.”
Coleman also highlighted TfL’s refusal to work on a shared occupational health scheme and its claims that such a scheme “would need a new building to house it in”.
To date much of the discussion and debate has focussed on the willingness of well-paid GLA officials to follow the Mayor’s instructions and ensure best value for Londoners by co-operating with other bodies.
But at this morning’s Business Management and Administration Committee AMs expressed surprise when it became clear that the promised savings include those achieved by bodies removing duplicated services within themselves.
Team Boris appear to be defining shared services as what the rest of us would call good management – i.e a single organisation having only one HR team and one photocopier paper supplier.
And yet while AMs rightly question whether this is what Londoners would have understood by the Mayor’s past claims, the duplication of resources within some GLA bodies has been known for some time.
The unfortunate truth is that in three and a half years, Boris has failed to bear down on such inefficiencies and deliver the ‘value for money’ he promised Londoners would be the hallmark of his Mayoralty.
Over the next six months he’ll have to spend increasing amounts of time on his efforts to be re-elected. How confident can Londoners be that a distracted Mayor will be any more effective than he has to date?