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Agenda Item No.

 

 

THE VALE OF GLAMORGAN COUNCIL

 

 

CABINET: 23RD FEBRUARY 2015

 

REFERENCE FROM SCRUTINY COMMITTEE (CORPORATE RESOURCES) : 10TH FEBRUARY 2015

 

 

“ RESHAPING SERVICES – A NEW CHANGE PROGRAMME FOR THE COUNCIL (REF) –

 

 

Cabinet, at its meeting on 26th January 2015, was provided with an update on the development of the Reshaping Services Programme.  The report had been referred to the Scrutiny Committee for the purpose of consideration.

 

On 3rd November 2014 Cabinet had approved the Reshaping Services Strategy (the Strategy).  The Strategy was developed following a programme of consultation and engagement with key stakeholders groups, including briefing sessions for Members and officers.  The Strategy provided a framework for the Council to work within for the next three to five years.  The implementation of the Strategy would be consistent with the Council’s project management toolkit, including consideration of sustainability, equality and legislative requirements. 

The latest financial projections estimated that the Council would need to find savings of over £7m in 2015/16 and

approximately £24.6m over the next three years.  A further sum of £6.6m would need to be found to balance the various budgets for the period to 2017/18.  This would be a major challenge for the Council, for which the Reshaping Services Programme aimed to help address.  The main aim of the Strategy was to reshape the Council to enable it to meet the future needs of citizens of the Vale of Glamorgan within the context of unprecedented financial challenges.  The objectives would be:

 

  • To identify alternative ways of delivering services which provided better outcomes for citizens and / or more efficient means of delivery
  • To meet the future financial challenges while mitigating the impact of cuts on service users
  • To develop the Council and its partners to ensure that they were able to meet future challenges.

 

Stage One of the challenge process was overseen by the Challenge Group that comprised the Leader, Deputy Leader and portfolio holder of the service area.  The Challenge Group was supported by the Managing Director, Head of Finance, Head of Human Resources, Head of Performance and Development, the relevant Service Director and Executive Director of the Vale Council for Voluntary Services. 

 

The challenge process was summarised as below:

 

Stage One

  • Service Area Baseline Assessments completed for all services
  • Challenge Group sessions
  • Scrutiny and engagement on identified opportunities
  • Initial proposals to Cabinet and Scrutiny Committees.

 

 

Stage Two

  • In-depth assessment of opportunities in tranches of projects
  • Approval and scrutiny of business cases.

 

 

Stage Three

  • Implementation, monitoring and review.

 

The Challenge Group would meet to review all Council services and identify proposals for those services which should progress to Stage Two of the process.  Cabinet approval would subsequently be sought for both the development of the detailed business cases at Stage Two and for those projects which proposed to move to Stage Three (implementation).  The Challenge Group met during September – November 2014 and it was intended that the challenge process would be repeated in September – November 2015. 

 

The Council’s Corporate Management Team would be responsible for the operational delivery of the Reshaping Services programme.  Service Directors and Heads of Service would be asked to used their expertise to challenge, review and identify alternative means of achieving objectives.  Their role would be to champion change and not to instinctively defend the status quo. 

 

Stage One of the challenge process would include the completion of Service Area Baseline Assessments and cost centre analysis documents would be completed by Service Directors for each service area.  The documents would highlight the current performance, costs, risks, trends and opportunities as identified by Council services themselves.  The cost centre analysis documents included the existing savings targets which were contained in the initial budget proposals.  These documents were summarised within the covering report at the following appendices:

 

  • Appendix B – Development Services
  • Appendix C – Learning and Skills
  • Appendix D – Resources
  • Appendix E – Social Services
  • Appendix F – Visible Services and Housing.

 

The Service Area Baseline Assessment documents and cost centre analysis documents would be presented to the Challenge Group by the relevant Service Director.  This information, in addition to the Group’s discussion and experience, would be used to inform the development of the proposals outlined in the covering report as to how the programme should proceed.

 

The report highlighted that the Challenge Group had identified a series of opportunities that would benefit from a corporate-wide response and these would be progressed as corporate workstream projects as follows:

 

  • Town and Community Councils
  • Demand management
  • Effectiveness of spend
  • Income generation.

 

In addition to the corporate projects workstream, the Challenge Group considered specific service areas for possible projects.  The Challenge Group used the information contained in the Service Area Baseline Assessments, the cost centre analysis and the discussion arising as part of the challenge process in order to identify those services that would progress to Stage Two of the Reshaping Services process as individual service reviews.  In identifying the services to be progressed to Stage Two, the Challenge Group considered the evaluation criteria outlined in the Strategy which was summarised by the following aspects:

 

  • Existing service analysis
  • Opportunity analysis
  • Financial appraisal
  • Impact analysis.

 

Appendix I of the covering report described the various elements of the proposed initial overall Reshaping Services Programme.

 

Whilst the service areas identified for inclusion in tranches 1 and 2 had been selected on the basis of the initial high level assessment of their ability to benefit from reshaping via an alternative method of service delivery or to generate efficiencies, the business cases developed at stage 2 would consider the entirety of the opportunities offered within each of the service areas.  The business cases would therefore appraise the potential for alternative methods of service delivery, the ability to generate efficiencies as well as those aspects of reshaping services that were to be progressed as a corporate workstream project.  In this way, a complete and comprehensive review of the service areas would be undertaken. 

 

The challenge process had been designed to be repeated throughout the duration of the programme to ensure ongoing and rigorous challenge of all service areas on a continual basis.  This process would allow lessons learned from projects in the Vale of Glamorgan and elsewhere to inform future tranches of projects.

 

It was intended that the Challenge Group would therefore meet again next for the second round of challenge sessions in September 2015.  The initial proposals resulting from these challenge sessions would form the third tranche of services to be reshaped and would be defined by February 2016 for Cabinet’s consideration.

 

A Committee Member, referring to alternative models of service delivery, queried the potential for Town and Community Councils or the Voluntary Sector in taking over the running of certain services.  In response, the Head of Performance and Improvement advised Committee that this was a difficult question to answer since the Councils in question had not yet been engaged in detail.  This was to be a corporate review and its outcomes were awaited. 

 

Further to this, the Committee Member questioned the level of engagement with Town and Community Councils and whether appropriate channels were being used.  The Committee noted that there were over 20 Town and Community Councils within the Vale of Glamorgan, all of which would have different views and opinions.  The Community Liaison Committee would not be the only forum in which the Reshaping Services Strategy would be discussed and consultation would be made with each individual Town and Community Council as the process progressed. 

 

The Committee then discussed the potential for a Town and Community Council representative to be appointed to the Challenge Group that would be overseeing the recommendations contained within the Reshaping Services Strategy.  The Committee questioned as to how the appointment would come about as it may be difficult to obtain a consensus around the appointment of a representative.  The disparity in size of some Town and Community Councils was also an issue, with some more able to provide services than others. 

 

The Committee also discussed the potential for a sub-group of Members from the Community Liaison Committee to look at and approve the appointment of a representative, the Committee considered that this point should be referred to Cabinet for further consideration and for Cabinet to refer this issue on to the Community Liaison Committee.

The potential for One Voice Wales to provide a representative was considered, but the Committee was not sure that they had enough intimate knowledge of the Vale of Glamorgan in order to provide the necessary level of representation. 

 

Referring to certain service areas within the Appendix in which no savings targets had been indicated, the Committee was advised that any extra savings would be on top of those already identified.  Further to this the Head of Performance and Improvement provided further explanation around the process used within the current stage of the Reshaping Services Strategy.  He advised that Heads of Services and Directors had been asked to conduct a “baseline assessment” for the services for which they were responsible.  The appendices were a summary of what those officers had said as part of their baseline assessments.  The next stage would involve full reviews which would test all the assumptions made and possibly come up with different conclusions as to what changes and savings were possible. 

 

A Committee Member then raised a number of points and questions.  The first question related to Appendix B (Page 1) and was around whether there was any potential double counting within the savings targets identified for Disabled Facilities Grants.  In response the Committee was advised that this was not the case and that the savings identified would be on top of those already agreed.  The Member’s second query was in asking as to what exactly was Legacy Leisure as mentioned in Appendix B (Page 8).  In reply the Committee noted that this was a trust set up by Parkwood in order to achieve savings in the running of the local leisure centres. Negotiations for which were still ongoing, but there were potential savings to be apportioned to the Council.  Finally, the Committee Member commented that from his perspective, there were two quick wins and these related to the enforcement of car parking fees and around the potential for MOT certificates to be issued for motor bikes. 

 

The Chairman queried the reasoning behind the proposal around not locking local parks between certain times. He stated that this could be questioned and that, in his view, this could cause potential issues such as an increase in antisocial behaviour.  In response to this, the Head of Performance and Improvement advised that Members would have the opportunity to challenge any recommendations made as a result of the reviews when they were presented in due course. 

 

A Committee Member, in querying the cessation of the supplying of waste management materials at Civic Offices Reception, was advised that this was needed in order to reduce the footfall of people visiting the Civic Offices.  There were opportunities for waste management materials to be collected through other receptions and Council facilities such as libraries.  The potential for vending machines was also being explored and an evaluation would be conducted in due course.

 

Having considered the report, the Committee

 

RECOMMENDED –

 

(1) T H A T the views and observations of the Scrutiny Committee be referred to Cabinet.

 

(2) T H A T Cabinet consider the possibility of the Town and Community Councils appointing a representative to sit on the Challenge Group and if appropriate for this to be referred onto the Community Liaison Committee.

 

Reasons for recommendations

 

(1) In order for Cabinet to receive the views and observations of the Scrutiny Committee (Corporate Resources).

 

(2) So that Cabinet can consider the level of representation for Town and Community Councils within the process of Reshaping Services.

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