BLOG – “We are reviewing absolutely everything” – Liverpool’s transformation plan
Interim Chief Executive Theresa Grant explains how transforming services will help Liverpool City Council meet its savings target and deliver improved services for residents…
There is no doubt that we face a huge financial challenge at Liverpool City Council, in closing a £73 million budget gap.
It means extremely tough choices, and there is not one council department that will remain unaffected. It is no exaggeration to say that we are reviewing absolutely everything.
When I arrived eight weeks ago, the political leadership of the council told me very clearly that – where possible – we should not stop services. Thanks to a huge amount of hard work, we have managed to contain cuts in services to just 10 per cent of the overall savings over the next three years.
One of the ways in which we aim to achieve this is through the transformation of our services. But what is transformation? Put simply, it is finding new ways of delivering services that achieve the same, or ideally better, results for our residents. Some of this work was already under way in Liverpool, but we have over the last few weeks significantly accelerated the pace of change.
In Adult Social Care, for example, we will be reshaping the care that people receive to make sure their package is regularly reviewed, that they are being supported to live independently, and we want to simplify the assessment process. In Children’s Services, we are driving forward an ‘early help’ model which will see parents and carers supported in a way which we hope will significantly reduce the number of children coming into care.
We are also reviewing our assets in neighbourhoods to see if we can reduce duplication in services and better utilise our buildings. It could be we can bring services together under one roof, rather than having three or four in the same area. This not only reduces costs, but makes it more convenient for residents, as they can access a range of services in one place.
We need to invest in new technology to make it easier to interact with us, whether it is reporting fly tipping, a missed bin collection, or paying Council Tax.
I have also been struck by the amount of red tape that exists – systems and processes at the council are just too complicated. It costs not just time, but also money. Every minute that staff spend on navigating the system, is time that they are not spending making a difference to the lives of residents. We are already taking steps towards reducing the bureaucracy that exists, such as simpler decision making processes, reducing the number of reports that need to be written and reworking the council’s Constitution.
These challenges and issues are absolutely no reflection on the workforce. I have been hugely impressed by the dedication and commitment of council staff since I arrived eight weeks ago. I have never experienced such passion for public service in my 40+ years in local government. They are Liverpool City Council’s greatest asset, and I have committed to trusting every single one of them to bring forward ideas and drive change from within.
At a staff conference last month, I was open and honest that I couldn’t promise that things would get easier in the short term, but that I was committed to seeing through the job I have been brought in to do between now and next May, and that they would start to see a difference quite quickly. It is a pledge I am also making to you, our residents – and one I am confident that we will be able to deliver.