30 September 2009 | Jake Kanter
UK local authorities have saved £1.7 billion over the past two years as part of the government's efficiency efforts, communities secretary John Denham announced.
After unveiling the figure at the Labour party conference yesterday, Denham said a "groundbreaking shift" in local government efficiency had helped reduced costs by a total of £4.6 billion in the past five years.
As part of the cost-cutting drive, authorities in the West Midlands saved £7 million by sharing information on their best procurement deals. Elsewhere, eight councils in Nottinghamshire saved £150,000 each by purchasing refuse collection vehicles together.
Councils in the UK have a collective spend of about £42 billion a year and are expected to save £5.5 billion by 2011.
Denham said: "We have a radical vision for local government that will give it a stronger, more powerful role, not for its own sake but because it is the best way of achieving better public services that meet people's needs and offer better value for money.
"When a council agrees a contract for new housing, it could try to include opportunities for new apprenticeships, or use its ability to shape markets to promote new technologies to tackle climate change. Investing in our future economy and skills now will ensure that we are positioned to benefit in the long term."