Buxton_Back to front revised paper V5.pdf (143.98 kB)
Download file

How do they do it? Understanding back office efficiency savings made by English councils

Download (143.98 kB)
journal contribution
posted on 04.09.2017, 10:09 by Rosamund Chester Buxton, Zoe Radnor
Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to illustrate the back office efficiency savings made by English councils during the 2004 Spending Review (SR04) period in order to consider the relationship between service delivery, audit and inspection and, efficiency programmes in local government. It considers three research questions: the use of secondary data, the relationship between efficiency savings and contextual factors, and the influence of audit and inspection in delivering efficient public services. Design/methodology/approach – Through statistical analysis the paper discusses the secondary analysis of publicly available sets of administrative data about local councils in England. These datasets are the annual efficiency statements (AES) taken from records made by each council. The paper discusses through the analysis of the AES the degree of efficiency savings and service improvements in English councils and whether efficiency savings are influenced by internal or external contextual factors. Findings – The paper illustrates that secondary data is a useful source of data, but finds that although councils have achieved the efficiency savings set there is no relationship with the contextual factors. The paper considers the influence of audit and inspection, suggesting that the focus has been on meeting the target rather than local needs. Originality/value – This paper aims to contribute to the debate regarding the use of performance indicators, audit and inspection and efficiency achievement within local government. The paper starts to explore the implication in the UK where, after a decade of use, the influence of these is reducing dramatically.



  • Business and Economics


  • Business

Published in

International Journal of Public Sector Management






118 - 132 (15)


CHESTER BUXTON, R. and RADNOR, Z.J., 2012. How do they do it? Understanding back office efficiency savings made by English councils. UK, International Journal of Public Sector Management, 25(2), pp. 118-132.


© Emerald Group


AM (Accepted Manuscript)

Publisher statement

This work is made available according to the conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0) licence. Full details of this licence are available at: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/

Publication date



This paper was accepted for publication in the journal International Journal of Public Sector Managements and the definitive published version is available at http://dx.doi.org/10.1108/09513551211223776