Agenda item

Introductory Briefing - Transformation and Finance

The Executive Member for Transformation and Finance has been invited to set out his priorities over the next four years, the differences which are to be achieved, and goals for 2015/16.


The Executive Member for Transformation & Finance gave an introductory briefing on his priorities over the next four years, the differences to be achieved, and the goals for 2015/16. This was dominated by the need to achieve savings of £25 million over the next five years, which meant that change was essential.


Overarching priorities were: Climate of austerity; Government policy and legislative changes; and changes in size and shape of the Council to reflect this.


Areas of responsibility included: Finance, Human Resources, and Property, which were all required to support Transformation.


There was an IESE workshop in November 2013. Innovations could be transitional, transformational, or mould breaking.


A Transformation Board had been established with the Executive Member for Transformation (Sponsor), the Leader, Chief Executive (lead Senior Officer), Corporate Management Team, and supported and challenged by IESE and Activist.


Projects to cover included: cost reviews, alternative provider models, shared services, major property reviews, policy/principle reviews, structure reviews, and service reductions.


Mechanisms to be included were: innovative procurement/ commissioning, business process improvements, service review/redesign, shared services/collaborative working, shared/pooled budgets, benchmarking, social enterprise, working with the voluntary sector, asset sharing/reduction, technology driving change, workforce changes, energy consumption, and customer focus.


Priority actions for 2015/16 were to: support town centre property transactions; support key projects with a property dimension, for example, Coopers Hill youth facility, school sites, Binfield Learning Village, Bridgewell & Ladybank; utilise some Council sites for affordable housing; carry out a property review; and improve the health and wellbeing of staff through health checks and employee engagement groups. Implement a new HR/Payroll system and Learning Management system; implement a new appraisal process and improve; performance management; update the Medium Term Financial Strategy; and develop the Council’s annual budget.


In response to Members’ questions, the following points were made:


  • Activist was a small consultancy which had operated around the public sector for a while  in relation to managing change.
  • The Transformation Board would report to the Executive for changes and decisions requiring approval.
  • Playing fields would not be disposed of. A detailed property review was in progress.
  • A comprehensive property review had not been undertaken for some time but property was reviewed regularly as property issues arose.
  • There were a number of properties but not much change could be made to school or leisure sites. All property usage was driven by service provision. Consolidation and co-location would be considered, along with opportunities to reduce costs, such as selling the site Easthampstead House was on, and reviewing big opportunity costs such as the Depot site. Some small car parks were poorly used and could provide a better revenue stream or be sold.
  • A Member suggested that Human Resources (HR) senior functions within the Council could be amalgamated to create efficiencies as the Chief Officer: Human Resources was due to retire at the end of the year. The devolved staff budget would be reviewed.
  • Figures would be requested by the Transformation Board to show how different options could create savings and efficiencies.
  • The Adult Social Care, Health and Housing Department worked in conjunction with the voluntary sector to provide large scale services at reduced costs.
  • There were joint areas and lists of land, and in addition to this the Council was involved in claw-back arrangements with HCA. It was complicated in Bracknell Forest but if information was requested about a specific property, this could be provided. Many claw-back arrangements in relation to land were due to expire in 2018. This would be part of the property review.
  • The covenant had been released on Downside, and Coopers Hill was another example of a property where full ownership would be with  the Council but this also had covenants on it.