Agenda Item No.
THE VALE OF GLAMORGAN COUNCIL
CABINET: 6TH OCTOBER 2014
REFERENCE FROM SCRUTINY COMMITTEE (CORPORATE RESOURCES): 16TH SEPTEMBER 2014
RESHAPING SERVICES – A NEW CHANGE PROGRAMME FOR THE COUNCIL (REF) –
The report provided Members with details of the process by which the Council intended to address the challenges in the Medium Term Financial Plan and proposed a Reshaping Services Strategy and associated change programme for the Council which was detailed at Appendix 1 to the report.
The Head of Performance and Development , in referring to the background to the report, advised that Central Government’s austerity drive had created a period of unprecedented financial pressures in the public sector and the Vale of Glamorgan Council’s budget had already been squeezed for 2014/15 with further substantial savings necessary in 2015/16, 2016/17 and 2017/18. Failure to deliver the required level of savings would not be an option for the Council and it was clear that the scale of the challenges to come would mean that business as usual, however well managed, would not be enough. The challenge was therefore to consider alternative delivery models for services across the Council and only in this way could the Council hope to maintain a broad range of services and to an acceptable standard.
The report highlighted that given the Council’s traditional low funding base (20th out of 22 local authorities in terms of funding per head of population) the Authority was well versed in working together to find savings and had a long established track record of achievement in this respect which would stand it in good stead in tackling future challenges. It was anticipated that the programme as outlined would be driven and largely conducted in-house with existing staff. However, additional external expertise would be required to advise in areas where in-house expertise was lacking, particularly in untried (for the Council) models of service delivery. It was not possible at this preliminary stage to estimate what the costs would be, but it was anticipated that they would be met from existing resources.
In relation to consultation, the report advised that given the scale and scope of the Change Programme, it was essential that the public, the Council’s partners and staff and other stakeholders were fully involved in its development. Proposals for undertaking engagement were outlined in Appendix 1 under â€œEngagement with Stakeholdersâ€. The report had been discussed with trade unions, however continual engagement would be crucial to the success of the programme and the exact mechanisms for engaging staff and trade unions would be brought back to Cabinet in the Autumn 2014. Members were informed that a special meeting of the Community Liaison Committee had been arranged to discuss the report on Wednesday 17th September and the Voluntary Sector Joint Liaison Committee would be considering the report on 23rd September 2014.
Members, in welcoming the report and the need for the Council to be radical and innovative in its thinking, raised concern about the proposed timetable of between three to five years. The Head of Service stated that the timetable reflected the considerable amount of work required to be undertaken in order to ensure all service areas were covered and any recommendations addressed. He also emphasised that the nature of the changes would vary widely between services; it was not simply a matter of implementing a single solution. Some Members raised the issue of competitive tendering and the need to raise awareness of the issues facing the Council in order that the implications and budget situation of the Council could be understood by all.
It was further suggested that the risks of each of the models would need to be carefully explained in conjunction with the benefits. It was recognised that the reshaping services programme would be a complicated programme that would require careful consideration, with Members agreeing that staff engagement with the process would be essential to its success. Following the comment that any suggestions by officers would be channelled through the Scrutiny and Cabinet process, it was subsequently
(1) T H A T the proposal for a â€œReshaping Servicesâ€ strategy and change programme to be instituted be agreed in principle.
(2) T H A T a further report be presented to the Scrutiny Committee in the Autumn providing the proposals for a more detailed way forward and apprising Members of comments received as a result of any initial engagement with stakeholders.
(3) T H A T Cabinet be requested to consider developing a Communication Strategy for the Reshaping Services programme in order to educate stakeholders and encourage engagement.
Reasons for recommendations
(1&2) To enable the Council to respond constructively to significantly diminishing resources by developing alternative means of service delivery in partnership with stakeholders.
(3) In order that stakeholders can be fully apprised of the Council’s Reshaping Services programme.