The pace of change means that we have to collaborate closely with councils to develop solutions together and there are a growing number of councils where we and they are actively working now to develop innovation for the sector.
The requirement to dramatically reduce cost, while mitigating or enhancing the impact on citizens, is a huge opportunity and we have worked with a number of councils to do that, helping them take costs out of their processes. We can do this in a number of ways, eg:
- through use of LEAN approaches
- applying analytical tools and insight to focus effort on the people or areas who need it most, and to understand and manage citizens’ service demand.
- digitally-led transformation of a council
- a range of services to reduce costs through accessing economies of scale, to bust backlogs in claims processing or care assessments, and some very clever software point solutions.
Often these cost-reducing services can be accessed rapidly through frameworks without an expensive and time consuming bespoke procurement. And we're very flexible when it comes to partnerships and working arrangements.
For many councils, part of the solution is to look at assets they possess – often property assets, or services, which they can commercialise. We have joint ventures with councils where we bring investment and commercial expertise to help councils generate profit from their services.
In all cases there are challenges for the leadership - both members and officers - to take organisations through an unprecedented scale and pace of change. We have experts who understand that level of change and have helped other organisations move through it.
The critical point here is that councils are different from each other – the local context is different, and so is the history and experience of the organisation. The specific new opportunities that come from combined authorities and devolution will also differ – including implementing structural change, and maximizing the opportunities from the change in the funding environment to being much more locally-driven economic incentive-based.