The Scrutiny Support Officer advised that a schedule had been prepared for arrangements for individual Members of the Executive to attend meetings of the Overview and Scrutiny Board to provide updates on their respective work in terms of their aims, aspirations, objectives, priorities and any emerging issues or pressures. The process was part of the scrutiny arrangements of holding the Executive to account and also provided the opportunity for the Board to identify or highlight any issues of concern or difficulty.
The Chair welcomed Councillor Carr, the Executive Member for The Change Programme to the meeting and invited him to provide the Board with an update in respect of any progress that had been made in relation to the Change Programme.
The Board was advised that the Executive had approved a report which set out the principles and approach to a Change Programme to meet the challenges presented by unprecedented and ongoing financial reductions in resource level over the next few years whilst retaining focus on leading the delivery of the future vision for Middlesbrough.
The first phase of the Change Programme was focused on development and producing an outline business case which involved looking at how the Council currently operated, how it delivered services and whether the Council needed to deliver all of the functions that it currently delivered. The process involved looking at whether the Council was the correct organisation to deliver a particular service and looking at the issue of outsourcing services and alternative service delivery models.
As part of the Change Programme process it was discovered that the bureaucracy and management of the Council had not changed for many years and a decision was made to review all areas of the Council and look at working practices within each area. The Change Programme had examined 58 separate areas of activity and reduced it to 40 by either merging activities or reducing provision. This exercise resulted in proposals for savings of £40m of which half had been implemented in 2014/15 and the remainder were expected to be implemented in 2015/16.
The Board was advised that Phase 2, the delivery phase of the Change Programme had commenced with a restructuring of Senior Management. Each of the three Executive Directors had three Assistant Directors directly reporting to them. Each of the nine Assistant Directors had been assigned specific service outcomes aligned with the key priorities of the overall strategy of the Council and they were expected to deliver change in respect of their individual outcomes. It was highlighted that following the Senior Management Review, the Senior Management Structure had reduced by 40%.
The Board was advised that political leadership was an important part of the Change Programme as politicians had a level of accountability that they were required to exercise and the scrutiny procedures were an important part of this process. The Council needed to look at maximising income and the Board was advised that a report was due to be submitted to Executive which looked at the issues of income generation and appropriate service delivery models.
The Executive Member of the Change Programme highlighted that as part of the Change Programme the following services/issues had been examined:-
Adult Social Care assessment process;
0 - 19 service;
Community hubs and libraries
Revenues and benefits;
In terms of Community Learning, the Council was investigating the possibility of developing a social enterprise company and looking at how it could operate to reduce costs. A Member commented that the Change Programme was about defining a clear specification and choosing the right level of service for the least cost. The Board was advised that it was up to Members to provide political direction in terms of the range of services the Council provided.
A key part of the approach to the Change Programme was continuing to work closely with and in a more collaborative way with other local authorities, public agencies. Negotiations with Mouchel Services regarding a possible extension to the current contract were ongoing.
A Member queried whether the effect on front line services was a consideration of the Change Programme and whether the delivery phase was on target and if unions were on board with the process. The Board was advised that the delivery phase was on target; the unions had worked well with the Council throughout the process and the Council had made a commitment to providing a living wage.
As part of the Change Programme any chargeable services provided by the Council were being examined to check if the charges being levied were economically viable for that service to operate. The Council was also looking at ways of generating income. The Board was advised that although the cost of a service was one of the primary factors, the issue of social value e.g. supporting employment or the effect on vulnerable people was also considered when assessing services.
The Board was advised that the Director of Public Health had advised that there was a possibility that the authority might suffer a 40% reduction in its public health grant in 2016. In 2013, the Government had announced a change in the methodology for calculating the Public Health grant by basing it on the number of older people. Older people were living longer generally but particularly in affluent areas. The Board was advised that this was one of the variables that would be examined in 2016/17. The Board was advised that there would be a number of savings in next years' budget based on the NHS funding certain functions.
The Chair of Overview and Scrutiny Board advised that scrutiny panels had been requested to consider how they could be involved in, and influence, the Council's Change Programme. In accordance with the above, the Overview and Scrutiny Board and scrutiny panel Members had met with the Executive Director for Commercial and Corporate Services with regard to this issue. A list of proposed topics suggested by the Executive Director for Commercial and Corporate Services which would link into the Change Programme had been drawn up in respect of each of the Panels.
The Executive Member for the Change Programme advised that the earlier that scrutiny was involved in the Change Programme process, the more influence it could have on outcomes. The Chair of Overview and Scrutiny Board advised that scrutiny panels were looking at topics that affected the Change Programme in tandem with other topics for investigation.
The Board was advised that a report had been drafted which provided an overview of how projects would be appraised and it would be useful for the Overview and Scrutiny Board to receive a copy of that report.
ORDERED as follows:-
1. That the Executive Member for the Change Programme be thanked for the information provided.