Resources are well managed and reflect priorities of residents
Thriving communities outcome: Our resources are well managed and reflect the priorities of our residents
Investing in adult social care
We invested £780,000 in Vivo Care Choices, Brio Leisure and other adult social care properties in 2017-18. The works were funded through a part of the council tax that is set aside for adult social care. Improvements included new boilers, toilets, changing places, nurse call systems and a pool lift.
Changing the way we work
We are changing the way we work to reduce costs and serve residents better. Supporting our aim of saving £2.4 million by 2020, we are reducing our number of corporate buildings.
Teams currently located in the HQ building in Chester will move to other buildings around the borough. They will also work more flexibly, which in some cases includes working from home one to two days a week.
Since appointing letting agents Legat Owen in June 2017, two new tenants, the Chester Race Company and Knights plc, have moved into HQ. Work is ongoing to let the remaining office space.
Qwest Services is a joint venture company that is 49 per cent owned by the Council, and 51 per cent owned by ENGIE, a multinational energy and service provider. We have a contract with Qwest until 2025 to provide us with a range of services, from business support and cleaning, all the way to delivering multimillion pound capital projects and digital transformation. They also manage our customer contact centre, which handled 495,000 contacts (more than 1,300 per day) in 2017-18.
Qwest has directly contributed to a number of our outcomes in 2017-18, such as successfully completing a £300,000 refurbishment at Whitby Heath Primary School. They also contribute to a vibrant borough by raising over £20,000 for local charities and offering work and volunteer experience to dozens of apprentices and new graduates. We are excited about the potential of other initiatives coming later in 2018.
Transforming Council services for a digital world – Residents expect to be able to do more business with the Council online. It also reduces costs. We are working with Qwest on this ‘digital shift’ and they have responded by creating the MyAccount customer portal, a council tax portal and new online forms for reporting concerns to us. In 2017-18, 23 per cent of contacts to the Council were directed towards an online channel. Our aim in the Corporate Plan is that by 2020 more than 50 per cent of contacts will be made online. We are currently on track to achieve this.
New energy offer to help residents save – In autumn 2018, residents will be able to save on energy with an offer from Qwest Energy, a new venture as part of the our partnership with Qwest and ENGIE. Qwest Energy will provide a range of tariffs to suit most households and it will have 100 per cent renewable electricity as standard on all tariffs.
As Qwest Energy is supported by the Council, some of the profits will be reinvested into a community fund to help those who need to save on energy most.