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B&NES Council Corporate Strategy 2020 to 2024

Delivering the strategy

The ‘Golden Thread’

The Corporate Strategy sets out our high-level commitments. But this needs to be translated into action through a ‘golden thread’ to our service plans and individual employee objectives.

How we will work

Service planning and performance management

Every year a Corporate Delivery Programme will set out how precisely we plan to deliver on this strategy. This will be available online and will also report on progress in delivering our commitments, ensuring that we are transparent and accountable. A revised Action Plan was approved by Cabinet in July 2019 which focused on key actions under each Cabinet portfolio in the wake of COVID-19.

Our Policy Development and Scrutiny Panels also have a key role in monitoring delivery of the Corporate Strategy, as well as carrying out their policy development role as the strategy develops and is implemented.

Managing our money

We have highlighted the financial challenges facing us even before COVID-19. We must balance our budget every year and prioritise our spending, so we can secure our services and invest in our commitments.

Our Medium Term Financial Strategy (MTFS) shows how we will do this, maximising commercial income, and reviewing our contracts to make savings. We have also launched a new corporate programme – Preparing for the Future - to deliver changes to how we work. How we deliver this will depend on the course of the virus and on government guidance e.g. relating to home working. – but our aim is to streamline our use of office buildings, enable our workforce to be more flexible and promote financial sustainability.

We are committed to being a modern council which meets the needs of people today, and in the future, with the funding available to us. So our MTFS also sets out the need for us to go further, managing demand and reducing costs based on Value for Money assessments of our services. Over the life of this strategy we will therefore:

  • Develop preventative approaches which enable people to remain independent and healthy, and reduce demand for high cost adult social care services, including:
    • Working to better understand why our care costs appear higher than similar authorities and creating a strategy to tackle the pressure on our budgets
    • Exploring the best way to deliver these services
    • Strengthening our approach to reablement
  • Re-shape the way we work with children, young people and families in order to reduce demand for high cost, specialist children’s social care placements, including:
    • Exploring the best way to deliver these services
    • Changing the service model so there is greater continuity of social worker
    • Re-uniting children in care with their families where this is the most appropriate outcome
  • Improve our city and town centres so they work better for local residents and businesses, including:
    • Ensuring a long-term approach to car parking which meets the climate emergency
    • Reviewing the assets we own so that they generate good future income for our services
    • Ensuring our Clean Air Zone and Transport Study for Bath unlock investment to enable us to deliver our vision for walking, micro mobility (cycling), car sharing, buses, and rail, and cleaner, greener, safer city and town centres for everyone
  • Establish better area-based approaches that deliver what citizens need at a local level, including:
    • Streamlining points of contact with the council so people aren’t pushed from “pillar to post”
    • Bringing together different services to reduce duplication
    • Ensuring services are shaped by what people need, rather than what we’ve always done

    To deliver these changes, we may need to invest “up-front” to realise savings or generate income from new ways of working. These changes must be well-planned so that changes made in one service don’t create costs elsewhere, and so that local needs and concerns are met.

    At one time during the COVID-19 lockdown, we were losing 14% of our daily spend on services from lost parking and Heritage Services income. We adopted a Financial Recovery Plan which made savings whilst protecting front-line services, as well as lobbying central government for additional support. The Recovery Plan has put our finances back on track.

    Our people

    We are a people business. We deliver services for people by people, so we need to provide the right culture, leadership, and environment for our staff to deliver the best outcomes for residents.

    Our People Strategy supports the development and effective management of our workforce. It ensures that we are recruiting and retaining staff with the right skills and support to do their jobs. We know that our employees will perform best if they are safe, happy, and engaged at work, and we are committed to building an inclusive culture where everyone feels able to participate and achieve their best.

    In response to COVID-19, we established an internal recovery workstream, chaired by our Chief Executive, which focuses on the following:

    • Providing strategic leadership for all aspects of our recovery
    • Developing a new vision for how our buildings and technology will support services post COVID-19
    • Making the most of our workforce and available technology
    • Ensuring our services are future-focused, working at optimal efficiency, and re-built on principles of good governance

    Expand the sections below to read more about each theme and the workstreams we have to deliver them.

    Financial recovery and future resilience

    We are planning in-year financial recovery and delivery of agreed budget mitigations. Specific work on this includes financial recovery plans.

    We are reviewing the core cost structure of our business, and setting the strategy to plan our resources for the medium to long-term by being future-focused, taking opportunities, and diversifying risk, to deliver our Corporate Strategy. Specific work on this includes a council wide redesign.

    Workplaces and workforce fit for the future

    We are returning services and our workforce from a COVID-19 lockdown position, to a ‘new normal’ by reviewing our existing use of assets, designing new workplaces which offer real flexible working arrangements, and giving the workforce technology and tools that are fit for the future.

    Specific work in this area includes:

    • Redesigning our IT systems
    • Flexible and remote working policies
    • Redesigning our buildings

    Future-focused redesign and effective corporate governance

    We are ensuring that the organisation is built on sound foundations of good governance, clear lines of corporate control and oversight. And we take opportunities to future-focus service redesign, to deliver optimum efficiency to the business.

    Specific service reviews include:

    • Property
    • Heritage
    • Adult social care
    • Centralisation of corporate services

    Our partners

    We cannot deliver this strategy alone as we don’t control all the areas that we need to influence. Many of our ambitions, particularly addressing the climate emergency, don’t stop at our boundaries.

    We have a long history of collaboration with local partners, voluntary groups and communities and are proud to work with many organisations to improve people’s lives. Our groundbreaking Community Safety and Safeguarding Partnership is one of the first in the country to bring together these functions to help focus resources on supporting vulnerable people. Our Third Sector Group (3SG) reflects our thriving voluntary and community sector, and we are working with them on projects such as Compassionate Communities.

    However, big changes have taken place in recent years. This includes the development of a West of England Combined Authority, and governance changes in our health and care system. In addition, the Western Gateway reflects the key links between our area, the West of England, and South Wales. We are committed therefore to being a good partner, where this helps us to deliver the Corporate Strategy, and make real improvements for local people.

    Our Compassionate Communities Hub (now the Community Wellbeing Hub) was created in a matter of days, as part of our response to help the most vulnerable during the COVID-19 crisis. It is a partnership between us, 3SG, the CCG, and Virgin Care. We are building on this partnership to extend our work into supporting skills in the wake of the economic shocks of the pandemic.

    Contact our Community Wellbeing Hub

    Our Local Outbreak Engagement Board brings together partners across local agencies and including the third sector to work together to protect our communities. You can read our Local Outbreak Management Plan on our web pages.