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Birmingham council appoints director to lead post-Kerslake culture change

Birmingham council appoints director to lead post-Kerslake culture change

🕔26.Jan 2015

Birmingham city council has appointed a senior director whose task is to deliver culture change across the organisation in the wake of the critical Kerslake Review.

Sarah Homer has taken up a new role as Director of Service Delivery on an interim basis.

Her appointment is a sign that city leaders are embarking on a far more radical change programme than initially suggested following Sir Bob Kerslake’s review which accused the council of a lack of strategic direction and ducking taking difficult decisions over many years.

Ms Homer, who moved into the public sector after working for American Express and Hogg Robinson, becomes the number three in Birmingham council seniority behind chief executive Mark Rogers and deputy chief executive Paul Dransfield.

Her responsibilities in charge of the corporate centre are wide-ranging and extensive.

She will take leadership of the Future Council Programme which covers the redesign of support services, development of a workforce strategy particularly addressing the challenges around the recruitment and retention of children’s social workers, and developing a new model for city devolution.

The programme involves delivering the 11 recommendations in the Kerslake Review and improvements to children’s social care, working closely with the Commissioner Lord Warner.

Ms Homer assumes operational leadership of the council’s HR department, which was heavily criticised by Kerslake, and the customer contact centre recently returned to local authority control from Service Birmingham.

She will also be responsible for overseeing procurement and commissioning, ICT strategy, policy, performance, communications and PR. The remit also includes the contractual oversight of the Service Birmingham partnership with Capita.

In his review Sir Bob Kerslake hit out at a “damaging combination of an absence of a strategic plan and the lack of corporate grip” which he said had resulted in a “multiplicity of strategies, plans and processes which has created unnecessary complexity and confusion”.

Kerslake continued: “In order to achieve strong corporate governance and coordination of the council’s required transformation, support services such as finance, commissioning, performance management, Human Resources, IT and property should be managed corporately.

We also believe that the scale of the challenge is too big for the existing corporate leadership team to manage. The corporate centre should be strengthened to enable this to be done effectively and provide greater support to the Chief Executive and his team.

“A senior post to lead the economic work of the council should be re-established to effectively carry out this role and at the same time provide the capacity that is needed for the Chief Executive to play his corporate leadership role.”

Ms Homer describes herself on the Linked In social media networking site as a “results driven director with a proven track record in both public and private sectors who has designed and delivered substantial multi-sector, change programmes”.

She claims to be a skilled relationship builder and communicator, able to collaborate and influence across stakeholder groups and at all levels as well as a “strong leader who builds high-performing teams.”

She joins Birmingham council from East Sussex County council where she ran a programme to deliver new ways of working and save the council £10 million a year. Before that she was programme director at Sheffield Council’s children’s services department.

She was director of strategic transformation at Walsall Council from 2005 to 2009.

Ms Homer is a graduate of Aston University and the University of Surrey.

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