Compass Point struggles to attract business in uncertain financial climate

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The shared services initiative created to save millions of pounds of East Lindsey taxpayers’ money is struggling to attract new business in the uncertain financial climate.

Although Compass Point Business Services is expected to exceed its target savings for the previous financial year, it is yet to sell its services to other local authorities or businesses.

The venture was set up by East Lindsey and South Holland district councils two years ago and has so far saved £4.3 million by sharing services such as human resources, IT, customer services, benefits and finance.

Although it anticipates a further five per cent saving in the next financial year, one of its key ambitions - to attract new business underpinning even greater savings - is yet to be realised.

ELDC’s leader Coun Doreen Stephenson said it was a ‘great disappointment’ not to have achieved that, when updating councillors on the service at a recent meeting.

“Compass Points has done a great deal of work with other councils only to find that with a change of political colour it’s not been taken forward and that’s a great disappointment to me,” she said.

Coun Fiona Martin, who chairs the Compass Point Board, attributed the difficulties in attracting extra councils on the uncertain financial climate.

“It’s the uncertain areas and the welfare reforms that are making councils wary about putting all their eggs in one basket,” she said.

The expected backlash from the welfare reforms, which will see many benefit recipients worse off, has also led to a downgrading of the target customer satisfaction levels.

Last year’s 90 per cent satisfaction level, which has been achieved, will be reduced to 80 per cent, in anticipation of aggrieved claimants calling customer service to complain.

“There’s a lot of unhappiness that’s going to be directed towards the council,” Coun Martin said.

Having achieved savings targets for two consecutive years, however, Coun Stephenson was hopeful Compass Point’s proven track record would soon entice other councils or private businesses to join.

“It’s not just a flash in the pan and I hope they use that to make it more attractive,” she said.