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Corporate Peer Review Blaenau Gwent County Borough Council Feedback to CMT & Executive 19 th July 2013.

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Presentation on theme: "Corporate Peer Review Blaenau Gwent County Borough Council Feedback to CMT & Executive 19 th July 2013."— Presentation transcript:

1 Corporate Peer Review Blaenau Gwent County Borough Council Feedback to CMT & Executive 19 th July 2013

2 Thank you!

3 Context Blaenau Gwent faces a number of challenges: Improvement issues: –education –corporate Impact of benefits cuts Financial Pressures

4 What you asked us to do To provide the leadership with: Assurance that what you are doing is making a difference; and Anything else you could/should be doing This is not an inspection, this is about helping you to improve

5 Already a lot going on… Good progress around internal improvement activities and initiatives PwC and Peopletoo Wales Audit Office Estyn We have sought to avoid duplication, add value and, in particular, consider how the council is responding to emerging challenges, notably the increasing financial pressures for onwards

6 What we have done Extensive examination of council documentation Interviews and workshops with over 60 people: 9 Executive Members 19 Non-Executive Members 19 Officers 4 Union Representatives 6 representatives from Local/Regional Partners 8 representatives from National Partners Limited time on site: distil and reflect back messages we heard from members, staff and partners

7 What we will do Feedback Session (today) Written Report in 4 weeks Ongoing advice and support where appropriate and requested – individually or corporately

8 Summary ‘English-style cuts’ – recent and revised financial projections of a possible 4% cut in and are a game-changer. These are not of the council’s making but compound the council’s existing challenges. Disproportionate effect on council given reliance on RSG, low reserves and council is the major employer in the area The worst case scenario is a possibility e.g. Detroit

9 Summary The immediate priorities for the council therefore are: 1.To identify, risk assess, deliver and secure up to £10 million budget savings for the financial year ; and 2.To improve educational outcomes as quickly as possible For the moment, all other priorities are secondary. The 2 key priorities need to be addressed in order for Blaenau Gwent to survive into the next financial year and, in turn, provide some foundations to place the council on a more sustainable footing into the future.

10 Summary In order to achieve those 2 key priorities, the corporate and political leadership need to demonstrate: Clarity of vision and delivery of outcomes Strong leadership and good governance Meaningful engagement with communities and partners 1.Effective resource, risk and performance management 2.Effective use of your good staff Within each, we have identified: Opportunities Risks Actions

11 1. Vision and Outcomes Opportunities Single Integrated Plan has set broad authority- wide vision ‘Coalition for Change’ offers a new approach, renewed energy and focus… Some very good services achieving positive outcomes, for example planning, regeneration and social services Ambition and confidence around the Racetrack and the Works

12 1. Vision and Outcomes Risks Overarching vision not communicated consistently Priorities therefore are not always consistently understood by everyone …Coalition for Change is a recent initiative, but awareness is mixed and communication not clear (e.g. it’s also known as the Guiding Coalition) Vision and focus diluted by complexity and number of initiatives and processes

13 1. Vision and Outcomes Actions Focus clearly on limited number of key priorities for : savings and education Clear communication and engagement strategy for council (councillors and staff), partners and public, focusing on: –What are the key priorities and why –What we are doing about them –When we are going to do them –What do we need you to do to help

14 2. Leadership & Governance Opportunities Recognition that significant challenges are here NOW Confidence within council that leadership can deliver savings, some confidence that tough decisions will be made… Cinema seen as a seminal moment, tough political decision taken and demonstration that new models will be considered Capable and passionate individuals in both political and professional leadership positions; interim corporate appointments widely respected Member behaviour has improved significantly and sense of increased co-operation Scrutiny on better footing and has potential to make a difference… Council receptive to external challenge, support and working with others…

15 2. Leadership & Governance Risks Lack of apparent urgency about the financial challenges Too much planning and process not enough or slow implementation Over-reliance on a limited number of key individuals to both drive and deliver Executive need to give more direction and shape to Executive meeting …Scrutiny not had opportunity to make effective challenge as yet, arrangements need to be more member-led, proactive and timely. Some question scope for call-in due to process. Limited Executive-Scrutiny interface to date Confusion around accountability and governance in education with Commissioner role …Over-reliance and ‘dependency’ on external challenge and support

16 2. Leadership & Governance Actions Take urgent action now regarding financial decision-making e.g. implement already identified savings Ongoing and regular review of savings progress e.g. establish ‘Savings’ Sub-Committee of Executive – this could have independent external/WLGA challenge Ensure ‘Coalition for Change’ has clear accountability and governance arrangements Move from interim to permanent arrangements as soon as possible to provide continuity and stability and ensure no long term risk to social services

17 2. Leadership & Governance Actions Identify, develop and support internal talent as part of succession planning and also look externally where necessary Implement the annual review element of Performance Coaching process for Chief Executive and all CMT: providing clarity on key objectives, targets and personal development/support needs Review format of Executive meetings and reassert member lead role in council meetings Implement recommendations of (ongoing) internal evaluation of scrutiny

18 3. Engaging with Communities and Partners Opportunities Council generally regarded as a good local partner –Good consultation around SIP –Council does not try to dominate, but facilitates partnership ‘Leading collaborative agenda’ - clear commitment to collaboration, numerous examples of council not only exploring but delivering collaborative ventures Cinema decision has redefined relationship with the community

19 3. Engaging with Communities and Partners Risks LSB appears to focus more on strategy rather than sharing and developing joint plans for savings Business engaged in projects but lack of engagement in strategic vision and LSB Some collaborative ventures have not progressed (social services – a cause of some internal tension) or are being reviewed (education)

20 3. Engaging with Communities and Partners Actions LSB should focus on sharing and, where possible, developing joint plans for savings and/or service reconfiguration Business sector approached to be lead partner in LSB

21 4. Resource, Risk and Performance Management Opportunities Council itself can and has identified a number of opportunities for significant savings Sense that there is a bottom-up process where teams actively identify potential savings Confidence within council that PwC work will identify potential savings and may lead to a more strategic and sustainable operating model for council in future… Confidence in EAS arrangements Widespread confidence that new corporate processes (such as risk management, performance management and self evaluation) are showing signs of improvement

22 4. Resource, Risk and Performance Management Risks Unprecedented risk in terms of finance – ‘unsustainable’ overspending, limited reserves and projected savings of £4.1m in are now estimated at £6m-£10m. Lack of apparent urgency and delay around managing overspend and implementing identified savings Double-whammy: decisions delay just as challenge doubles in size Medium Term Financial Plan (MTFP) hasn’t been updated to reflect new assumptions e.g. Corporate Overview and Scrutiny papers

23 4. Resource, Risk and Performance Management Risks No apparent action plan or timeline to make savings Not clear to what extent comparative benchmarking data is used e.g. Measuring Up data Risk of financial pressures arising from Tai Calon dispute Some internal concern over consultants’ work duplicating ongoing internal service review processes Over-reliance on PwC work – it will identify some savings and may develop more strategic and sustainable ‘operating model’ for council, but risk that the new model (Stage 3) is unlikely to be implementable or at least make a significant impact for

24 4. Resource, Risk and Performance Management Action Immediately produce an action plan and timeline for achieving savings Implement already identified savings immediately Update MTFP with latest assumptions, with clearer links to workforce development plan, asset management plan and corporate improvement plan Ongoing and regular review of savings progress e.g. establish ‘Savings’ Sub- Committee of Executive Plan for implications of PwC proposals – speak to councils where this has been implemented e.g. Coventry

25 5. Organisation and People Opportunities Committed and enthusiastic workforce Standardising good practice across departments Confidence in and energy from interim arrangements… Internal silos less prevalent - increased corporate team dynamic, through mechanisms such as corporate improvement network Council regarded as a good employer Constructive relationship with unions Progress being made on internal savings e.g. canteen and essential car user allowance

26 5. Organisation and People Risks Communication and information internally and externally – council doesn’t sell itself well Lack of confidence displayed by some people Perception of ‘no redundancies’ approach seen by some as barrier to progress as is the generosity of redundancy package  Over-reliance on key individuals, 2 key issues:  Overstretch and succession; and  If they are the wrong people they can have a disproportionate impact in hindering progress

27 5. Organisation and People Risks  Corporate interim arrangements are short-term and also place a knock-on risk to social services  Plans and structures are being developed, but Newport withdrawal from education could present a risk  HR capacity – mixed views : although plan is being produced for HR support to savings process, not all are confident that capacity and skills there.  Need for HR to re-focus away from current process

28 5. Organisation and People Actions Move from interim to permanent corporate arrangements as soon as possible Ensure HR capacity is ready for potential challenge of changes ahead Identify, develop and support internal talent as part of succession planning Implement recommendations of T&F Group Review of Communications and coordinate communications and engagement resources effectively

29 Conclusion What is needed: Leadership Decisiveness Immediate Action


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