The leader of Richmond Council has signed an agreement with four neighbouring authorities to look at merging services in a major shake-up of local Government in south-west London.

Richmond, Croydon, Merton, Sutton and Kingston councils are set to explore sharing responsibilities in a bid to cut millions of pounds from their costs.

It was today unclear how many jobs will be affected by the proposals.

Richmond Council has already merged its legal department with Merton, saving £100,000 from its budget, and will look at ways of joining childrens’ services with Kingston.

Mandy Skinner, assistant director of commissioning, corporate policy and strategy at Richmond Council, said: “With sharing legal services the numbers of staff involved is relatively small, but with childrens’ services we are talking about the whole range - absolutely everything - and that requires a lot of consideration.”

She added: “As well as the savings, it can provide us with a platform for innovation and improvement by joining up the services.”

Councillor Geoffrey Samuel, deputy leader of Richmond Council, said the authority will save money “broadly” from back office roles.

He is due to ask the cabinet to approve an extra £1m to cover redundancy costs next Thursday.

The authority has set aside a total of £6m for staff who lose their jobs.

The cabinet is due to consider approving the merger proposals at the same meeting next week.

Conservative Kingston councillors have called for the authorities to join electoral and legal services, trading standards, audit and environmental health and also to link their contracted social care.

Lord True, leader of Richmond Council, said the five athorities shared similar philosophies on devolution, localism and public involvement.

He said: “The face of local government is changing for good. How we deliver services is also changing. 

“Our prime purpose is to protect and deepen local identities, but we can do that by sharing the costs and benefits of support services across borough borders.

“In the future far more services will be delivered either through commissioning or by sharing services with other organisations where that provides economies of scale and good value for local taxpayers.

“We already share our legal department with Merton. Now this agreement opens the door for more arrangements should the opportunities arise and they prove advantageous to the residents of our respective boroughs.”

He added: “Our five councils share many key values including a commitment to high standards and quality in service provision. Crucially for me, we also have similar philosophies around devolution, localism, public involvement and the role of volunteering - all of which are crucial to the Coalition Government’s vision of the Big Society.

“I look forward to working with our new partners as opportunities that are underpinned by strong business cases and clear social benefits emerge between us.”