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A Council working for us all – and to convince the improvement panel

A Council working for us all – and to convince the improvement panel

🕔26.Oct 2016

Birmingham city council is gearing up for a challenging report from the Birmingham Independent Improvement Panel (BIIP), despite progress made since the installation of a new leader almost a year ago. 

How do we know? The tell, tell signs are all there. There are suddenly a series of updated visions and plans emerging from the Council House.

Creating a council of the future is the title of a report submitted to the Corporate Resources and Governance Overview and Scrutiny Committee for its meeting next week.

The report lays out the series of actions remaining from just before the Improvement Panel, established as part of the damning Kerslake Review, took an extended summer break. Eight areas where gaps still needed to close included “the council’s leadership team to provide a clear vision for the organisation and have a grip on performance”; “city partners feeling like we have engaged with them as equals” and “communicate a clear vision for the city and council’s role within it.”

Phase 2 of the local authority’s Future Council plan sets out a number of priorities. Perhaps oddly, the issue most likely to attract the attention of the Improvement Panel when it reports in the next few days comes in at bullet six in the priorities list.

Our most immediate challenge is to identify options to deliver the budget gap and deliver on identified savings this financial year.

Delivering on the savings required in this and the next few years of the budget plan is proving extremely challenging.

This week’s early discharge of the Birmingham and Solihull Sustainability and Transformation Plan forms part of a narrative to underline the challenges of addressing the costs of social care and better integration with NHS services.

As with many corporate plans, there is much talk of values and behaviours, drivers and enablers and guiding principles in Creating a Council of the Future. There is no doubt that at a strategic level, the council has made progress on some of Kerslake’s key challenges. More senior capacity for change has been a major factor in recent months.

But ‘Big Moves’ are the ideas and projects that the council believes will make the major and tangible changes to the way it works and how it is perceived. These are highlighted as:

BIG PLANS – eg. Children’s Trust, Sustainable Transformation programme
BIG IMPROVEMENTS – eg. de-cluttering, culture change, customer service etc.
BIG SAVINGS – eg. significant budget / transformation programmes.

More on the ‘Big Moves’ is promised in mid November.

READ: Recovery and renaissance, but serious issues remain beyond the core.

The council’s three political leaders (Cllr John Clancy, Cllr Robert Alden and Cllr Jon Hunt) have signed up to a shared vision for the city – ‘a city that works for all of us.’ It forms part of the report, but landed on the council’s Newsroom site yesterday without explanation or context.

We are proud to serve the people of Birmingham. This is a welcoming city with an historic past and, more importantly, an exciting and influential future.  A place where future success for the city means opportunity for all.

As the most youthful city in Europe, supporting young people to realise their potential is paramount – enabling Birmingham to be a great place for children to grow up and learn in, for adults and families to thrive in and, as we mature, to grow old in.

Working together, we must strive for a city that offers a good quality of life to everybody – a city where your postcode or background does not determine your ambitions and achievements.

The council’s role is to lead with others.  Our shared purpose is to improve people’s lives, working with partners from across this great city – pulling together, with leaders across Birmingham and the West Midlands, to ensure citizens have services they deserve.

Our collective efforts must put people first; responding to their needs. We must invest in communities, creating opportunities for people to achieve their aspirations and give everyone neighbourhoods and a city to be proud of.

We will strive to make this vision a reality and look forward to working with the many who share these ambitions.

Chamberlain Files visitors will form their own view as to whether this new vision says anything distinctive about Birmingham and its local authority, or simply states some fundamental aims to which anyone living in any place might wish to subscribe.

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