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Councils are facing a tough and complex set of pressures – cuts in funding, rising demand for services and challenges in economic growth.

East Devon has already responded decisively. We have worked hard to achieve savings through delivering internal efficiencies and have delivered mainly through this Strategy annual savings to produce a balanced budget for the Council.

However, continuous reductions in public spending over the medium term and funding available to councils reduce on an ongoing basis until the national deficit is substantially reduced.

At the same time, demand for services and user expectations continue to increase. The current Medium Term Financial shows annual expenditure will be £5.4 million higher than the income we have available to us by 2027/28.

The financial pressures are not going away so we need to respond in even more profound ways now that we have achieved many of the ‘quick wins’. This means transforming our services and the way we work.

The Transformation Strategy was adopted for 2016/17 financial year and is the latest version moving the position forward another year.

What does transforming mean for East Devon District Council?

East Devon District Council’s purpose is to be a successful district council delivering or commissioning the services our council tax payers expect despite the huge reductions in grants.

Our Transformation Strategy sits alongside our Council Plan and outlines how transforming the way we work will deliver our purpose despite the predicted budget gap.

It is intended that this is a dynamic (rather than static) strategy which will require review and update on at least an annual basis.

It’s important that we remember that transformation is not about moving from one steady state to another; neither is it a discrete programme that is started and finished. Instead, transformation is about an ongoing and continuous process of change requiring constant refreshing.

The following ‘strategic themes’ make up our Transformation Strategy.

1) Deliver our Worksmart Strategy and transforming our culture through new ways of working underpinned by the right technology at the right time

2) Deliver improved online services through our Open for Business project

3) Implement systems thinking reviews across all services

4) Maximise the value of our assets through commercial thinking with a focus on income generation, sustainability and developing local economies

5) Actively pursue alternative service delivery methods and models

The ‘strategic themes’ of this Transformation Strategy will be used to ensure that spending and savings proposals can be tested on an ongoing basis against pre-agreed criteria. Keeping the ‘strategic imperatives’ in mind will help everyone in the council keep a firm focus on how it directs its human and financial resources so that we steer a steady course to deliver despite the reductions in government funding.

Key ‘strategic imperatives’ for transformation

1 Deliver our WorkSmart Strategy to transform the way we work, our culture and service delivery. Our working smarter ambitions will be underpinned by the right technology choices.

EDDC is working on a number of projects which relate to working smarter and new ways of working. These projects are all aiming to transform the way we work and how the council operates. These activities are driven by our recognition of changing customer behaviour and expectations as well as the need to respond to our financial situation.

Our WorkSmart Strategy outlines how working smarter means that we have to challenge all the assumptions of our traditional ways of working and bring in new approaches to management and team work.

Our Worksmart Strategy is underpinned by new technology. Working smarter depends on moving towards a digital working environment so anywhere that work is carried out is effectively part of ‘the office’. Common systems, processes and tools should be available to all staff wherever they are working.

The government is committed to modernising services by making them online and this has implications for the way we work in delivering our services. Over time this will reduce some of the requirement to work in particular places and at particular times.

Key actions

Owner

Timescale

Potential savings/value creation

Implement WorkSmart Strategy to deliver new ways of working.  

Karen Jenkins

Strategic Lead

Ongoing

Effectiveness of our WorkSmart Strategy will be measured   through the following metrics:

  •   Improved outcomes
  •   Improvements in working practices
  •   Cost savings
  •   Energy savings / Carbon reduction
  •   Office space reduction
  •   Improved satisfaction with space, IT delivery   and culture
  •   Travel reduction
  •   Reduced absenteeism
  •   Improved staff retention

 

Deliver IT systems and physical IT requirements for the new   office and in support of WorkSmart

Strata

To be specified through the office accommodation project   plan and WorkSmart Strategy

Efficiencies through the implementation of:

  •   New phone system
  •   Customer contact system
  •   Electronic document management system
  •   Flexi time system
  •   Intranet content management system

 

Relocate to new offices providing a presence in Honiton and   Exmouth. Offices will be designed to reflect the way we work.

Richard Cohen

Deputy Chief Executive

Saving factored into MTFP – based on Grant Thornton’s model

Exmouth Nov 2017

Honiton Dec 2018

Organisation “Fit for Purpose”

SMT

2019/20

£250k

Review of organisation establishment

2 Improve our online services through our Open for Business project

Our customers want to do business with us in ways and at times that suit them best. People expect to be able to transact on-line if they want to.

Our Open for Business web project has two main objectives which is to make sure people can find what they are looking for on our web pages and do business with the council online across a range of services, if they want to.

Rather than design everything from scratch, we have modelled our website on the principles used for the gov.uk award winning website. Just like them we have designed our website to be:

  • Centred around our customers’ needs
  • Clear
  • Simple
  • Fast
  • Organised
  • Rational

This project focused on both content and digital services. We have trained web authors across the council to be able to write content for the web. Web authors are responsible for writing and updating content and keeping this live and current.

Our web authors have turned thousands of out of date PDF documents and web pages into up to date, accessible web pages organised in hubs. 

Key actions

Owner

Timescale

Potential savings/value creation

Explore technology which will provide a digital platform   which means customers sign on once and transactions are integrated with back   office systems.

Customer portals such as this capture customer data across   all channels.

SMT and Strata

End 2018

This will create a single customer view so that we can see   what contact the customer has previously had with their council across all   service areas.

Savings will be made as customers switch to online services.   A customer portal can potentially help the council identify these savings   across all channels but a business case will need to be developed.

3 Implement systems thinking reviews across all services.

We strive for services which are:

  • Organised around ‘what matters’ to our customers and communities
  • Designed to catch problems early
  • Delivered according to need and in the most appropriate way
  • Value for money

The council has achieved significantly improved performance in areas where systems thinking reviews have taken place. However, there are still areas where we need to implement these reviews.

Further systems thinking reviews will determine what is the purpose of the service in customer terms; what demands customers place on the services and what matters to them; how capable are the various systems in responding to demand and what are the key system conditions impacting the work and how the work flows.

Research and experience in systems thinking councils shows that earlier intervention by public agencies could result in less intensive involvement being required later. Where possible, services should prioritise and build-in action which has the effect of reducing demand for and cost of services in the longer run. Addressing the ‘waste demand’ that results from focussing on consequences rather than causes, and approaches which alienate or disempower service users has a high cost for society and high costs for public services. The principles of preventative spend and early intervention are therefore identified as a strategic imperative.

Our action plans for Systems Thinking Reviews sit within our service areas – an update position is appended to this Strategy.

 

4 Maximise the value of our assets through commercial thinking with a focus on income generation, sustainability and developing local economies.

Key actions

Owner

Timescale

Potential savings/value creation

Organisational review of essential user allowance and use of   council vans/cars.

Karen Jenkins

Strategic Lead

2020/21

There are potential savings circa £120k but needs to be   researched with caveat that this is an issue of terms and conditions which   will need to be negotiated with UNISON.

All renewal or new lease/rental arrangements to be subject   to commercial valuation. Members will be required to consider a commercial   price or to identify from where a subsidy can be secured.

Richard Cohen

Deputy Chief Executive

2018/19

£30k

 

Charging Developers for Recycling and Waste containers

Andrew Hancock

Service Lead

2019/20

£31k

Further work required.

Review use of PV array on council assets

Richard Cohen/

Property and Estates Manager

2018/19

Review to be undertaken

Provision of business units

Richard Cohen

Deputy Chief Executive

2018/19

Seaton workshop provision as 1st stage.

Countryside working with the private sector to manage sites   to meet developer obligations

Countryside working with the private sector to manage sites   to meet developer obligations

Countryside working with the private sector to manage sites   to meet developer obligations

Countryside working with the private sector to manage sites   to meet developer obligations

Asset review

Asset management form

Ongoing

A polite scheme is progressing with Beer Parish Council and   consultation is to be held district wide provision of public toilets.

 

Return on investment – ensure that regeneration   opportunities include assessment of potential for capital receipt and or   revenue streams.

 

Alison Hayward

Economy and

Regeneration Manager

Ongoing

Future principles on project funding to be developed for   capital or revenue income.

 

Implement process where the   Council can consider investment proposals to generate annual revenue income.

Simon Davey

Strategic Lead

2018/19

Details to be considered in the 2018/19 budget process.

5 Actively pursue alternative service delivery methods and models. 

Reviewing our service delivery model

Systems thinking reviews provide opportunities for the Council to pursue alternative methods of delivery to achieve efficiency and what matters to the customer.

Whilst there has been encouragement for authorities to provide services jointly on the basis of perceived significant cost savings, this has not always been borne out when detailed option appraisal has been done. However, now Strata Service Solutions Ltd has been formed, this will facilitate the sharing of systems. Individual business cases will be taken forward where the initial high level assessment indicates that they will deliver significant, quantifiable savings in the short, medium and long term.

Delivering services with communities

The role of the organisation may need to adapt in some areas from being a direct provider of services with professional officers providing the solutions to more of an enabler, helping local communities and supporting them to find their own solutions.

It is not intended that there should be a uniform approach for all service areas but instead to allow service areas to consider this if appropriate and move forward at the right pace.

EDDC needs to develop its thinking and debate about the extent to which services could be delivered with, rather than for communities. This is a process which will require recognising and identifying the knowledge, skills and experience which already exist locally and which can be developed and employed to mutual benefit. The impact should be to raise morale, enhance resilience, encourage greater independence and support communities to assume responsibility for local services.

When thinking about how we deliver services there could be greater scope to involve towns and parishes and community led service delivery.

Key   actions

Owner

Timescale  

Potential   savings/value creation

The   creation of Housing Company to deliver objectives identified and agreed by   Council which includes a financial return to the Council

John   Golding Strategic Lead

2018/19

Further   details to be determined but a return to be made on:

  • 5% margin   on services sold to the Company
  • At least   1% interest margin on funding provided to the Company.
  • Company   profits returned to the Council.

 

Corporate   Counter Fraud & Compliance

Libby   Jarrett

Service   Lead

2018/19

£30k

 

Use of   In-House contract lawyer to save external spend

Henry   Gordon Lennox

Strategic   Lead

2018/19

£15k

 

Additional   Legal Fees & Charges

Henry   Gordon Lennox

Strategic   Lead

2018/19

£10k

 

Green   Waste Service

Andrew   Hancock

Service   Lead

2018/19   £100k

2019/20

£200k

Introducing   a Green Waste Scheme for the District run by the District Council. Different   models are currently being considered but the net income identified is seen a   reasonable estimate at this stage.