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Agenda Item No

 

The Vale of Glamorgan Council

 

Cabinet Meeting: 09 July 2012

 

Report of the Leader

 

Update on Collaborative Working

 

Purpose of the Report

1.             To update Cabinet on the progress agreed by the previous administration in relation to collaborative working. 

2.             Further reports are brought to Cabinet on any future possible collaborating initiatives on a regular basis.

Recommendations

1.             That Cabinet notes the previous administration's actions in relation to collaborative working and reaffirms the Council's commitment to agile collaboration with other suitable partners as and when agreements can be reached.

2.             That further reports are brought to Cabinet on any future possible collaborative initiatives on a regular basis.

Reasons for the Recommendations

1.             To ensure a flexible approach to collaboration that enables the Council to work with a range of partners in order to deliver improved services and maximise efficiencies. 

2.             To keep Cabinet updated on on-going initiatives.

 

Background

3.             The Simpson report ("Local, Regional, National: What Services are Best Delivered Where?"), published in March 2011, was significant in accelerating the pace and extending the ambition of public service collaborative working in Wales.  The report, broadly welcomed by the Welsh Government (WG) and Councils, proposed a flexible approach to methods of collaborative service delivery on a service-by-service basis.  In June 2011 the Vale Council made a submission to WG responding positively to the report and detailing how individual services might collaborate to best effect.

4.             Using the Simpson report as a springboard, WG then sought to engage all Councils in a formal agreement on collaboration.  A "Compact for Change" (Appendix A) was drawn up by WG late in 2011, and all Councils were asked to endorse it.  The Vale Council, while happy to endorse the Implementation Contracts included in the document, had reservations about the Compact itself.

5.             Those reservations were twofold.  The first concerned the importance of ensuring value for money for local citizens in any collaboration done on a regional basis, and the principle that services delivered in collaboration should not result in a deterioration or an increase in cost.  The Auditor General for Wales, citing the duty for all Councils to achieve continuous improvement, has expressed similar concerns, and there has been correspondence between the Wales Audit Office, WG and Councils to clarify the position.  In his most recent letter on the subject the Auditor General says that where Councils take "a reasonable approach", they may "collaborate with confidence and without unnecessary concern for the auditor's judgement".  Further WG guidance in relation to collaboration is expected in due course.  

6.             The second reservation concerned the so-called regional "footprint" laid down by the Minister for Local Government and Communities specifying a regional basis for collaboration, and the expectation in the Compact that future collaborative working would be aligned to the footprint.  In the Council's case the footprint consists solely of the Vale and Cardiff.  The Council considers that it imposes arbitrary limits on the Council's freedom to choose its partners and forces it to collaborate according to geography rather than the best business case.  It also constrains the ability of the Council to take advantage of opportunities to work with partners for the benefit of the public.

7.             For these reasons, Cabinet in January 2012 made the following resolutions:

·               That the concerns expressed by the Scrutiny Committee (Corporate Resources) be endorsed

·               That Cabinet reaffirm its commitment to collaborative working with a range of authorities, as illustrated by the initiatives under way

·               That Cabinet endorse the reservations expressed by the Auditor General in his recent letter to the Minister with regard to the potential deterioration of services which could occur

·               That, whilst endorsing the individual Implementation Contracts within the Compact, Cabinet, in the light of the concerns outlined above, consider it inappropriate at this stage to endorse the preamble to the Compact

·               That the Council's concerns regarding the regional footprint set out by the Minister for Local Government and Communities, as previously reported to Cabinet on 7 September 2011, be reaffirmed

Relevant Issues and Options

8.             The Council's preferred approach to collaboration is an agile one.  It has embarked on a number of collaborative arrangements with other organisations, as outlined in Appendix B.  These are briefly explained in the following paragraphs.

9.             Local collaboration under the aegis of the Vale Local Service Board (LSB) continues to progress well.  Statutory WG guidance on the future of LSBs was issued in draft recently, and the Vale LSB has already implemented key requirements such as the publication of an integrated Community Strategy as well as making good progress in the areas of partnership rationalisation, performance management, area working and needs assessment.

10.        A Memorandum of Understanding was agreed with Bridgend Council in December 2010.  A number of joint projects are being progressed under the aegis of at Programme Management Board.

11.        The Council continues as a member of the Connecting South East Wales Board, and is playing an active part in two large-scale regional collaborative projects: Prosiect Gwyrdd in respect of waste management and the South East Wales Improvement Collaborative (SEWIC) for social services.

12.        Prosiect Gwyrdd is a partnership between Caerphilly, Cardiff, Monmouthshire, Newport and the Vale to agree a solution for treating waste after recycling and composting have been maximised for each area.

13.        SEWIC is a partnership between all ten South East Wales Councils to improve the provision and commissioning of social services in the region.  A feasibility study has been conducted which identifies additional potential areas of collaboration across the SEWIC region - between local authorities and with wider key stakeholders such as NHS partners, Housing and the Third Sector.  As a result, the SEWIC Board has agreed to take forward six major new projects.  This programme will help to provide the local authorities with an additional means of delivering service modernisation and cost effectiveness.

14.        The Council is a member of the Central South Education Consortium in partnership with Cardiff, Bridgend, Merthyr and Rhondda Cynon Taf.  The collaboration has developed in response to an explicit challenge from the Welsh Government to establish effective and resilient arrangements.   Cabinet agreed to progress collaboration arrangements towards a Joint School Improvement Service, subject to agreement on a final business case, which has since been achieved.  The Outline Business Case has been approved and work on the detailed design stage is nearing completion.  The recruitment process for the Joint School Improvement Service and the trading arm (LINKS) is also under way in readiness for operational functioning in September 2012.

15.        The Council is collaborating with Swansea Council on implementing and developing the Oracle eBusiness Suite of applications, in which both Councils have made significant investment.  Both Councils believe that there are better prospects of benefits to be gained in collaborating over the medium term, with a view to a joint approach to current updates and the joint procurement of a totally new replacement Oracle system, likely around 2016/17.  The Councils have agreed to share development plans and to identify those area where collaboration can be explored in a shorter timescale.

16.        Given the accelerating pace of the collaboration agenda, there is hardly a Council service that is unaffected.  There is accordingly a real challenge for managers to get to grips with a new way of managing, and to aid in this respect a note, "Collaborative Working - Guidance for Managers" has been developed (Appendix C)

Resource Implications (Financial and Employment and Climate Change, if appropriate)

17.        None as a result of this report

Legal Implications (to Include Human Rights Implications)

18.        None as a result of this report.

Crime and Disorder Implications

19.        None as a result of this report.

Equal Opportunities Implications (to include Welsh Language issues)

20.        None as a result of this report.

Corporate/Service Objectives

21.        Corporate Plan action CL11 "Develop operational partnerships with other Councils to promote shared service provision" refers.

Policy Framework and Budget

22.        This is a matter for executive decision by Cabinet.

Consultation (including Ward Member Consultation)

23.        Staff and Trade Unions will be kept fully abreast of developments and consulted on proposals as they are made.

Relevant Scrutiny Committee

24.        Corporate Resources

Background Papers

Appendices attached.

 

Contact Officer

Huw Isaac, Head of Performance and Development, 01446 709760

 

Officers Consulted

Corporate Management Team

 

Responsible Officer:

Chief Executive

 

 

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