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Major council projects hit by delays and increased costs

A third of councils have experienced delays to major projects as a result of the economic downturn, according to new research. By Ben Cook

The survey by 4ps – the local government procurement specialist – also showed that more than a quarter, or 27 per cent, of local authorities had seen project costs rise.

Meanwhile, a total of 15 per cent of councils had cancelled some or all of their planned projects.

Of the local authorities that had suffered delayed or cancelled projects, 86 per cent said regeneration projects were suffering, 61 per cent said housing schemes were affected, while 33 per cent said leisure projects were slipping.

A total of 14 per cent had experienced problems with schools projects, while 11 per cent had experienced delays with new waste projects.

But, despite the economic downturn, two thirds of local authorities said they were “still confident working with the private sector”.

4ps encourages local authorities to work in partnership with public, private and third sector partners to achieve efficiency savings.

More than two thirds of the councils surveyed said their ability to “generate efficiency gains” had been reduced by up to 10 per cent as a result of the downturn.

A total of 86 per cent agreed that the Local Government Association could help local authorities through the worsening economic climate by “sponsoring a collaborative programme across the sector to achieve greater efficiencies”.

Chris Wilson, executive director at 4ps, said: “4ps is supporting authorities to make efficiency savings through effective joint working, promoting best practice and standardisation of procurement operations.

“Many advantages of Public Private Partnerships remain. However, it is increasingly important that those local authorities engaged on projects involving project finance monitor developments closely and ensure they develop and implement where necessary appropriate risk mitigation strategies.”

Earlier this year, 4ps warned that completing local projects and services efficiently was likely to become more difficult in a financial downturn.

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