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Be an efficient and empowering council

Our shared challenge

We will need to respond differently if we want to tackle the challenges we've outlined, particularly as we need to meet the budget gap over the next four years. We also need to continue to improve the customer experience and the way that we engage with local people, embracing technology to make us more efficient and responsive. We will do this by considering our relationship with local people and communities, how we can best use our assets, ensuring that we procure and manage contracts to deliver what is best for local communities and developing a lean and efficient workforce that has the appropriate skills to deliver on our aspirations. We will also explore how we can work with local people and communities to support and enable them to play their part.

What success will look like

  • Improved customer satisfaction
  • People feeling better informed about council decisions and services
  • Residents feeling more able to influence local decisions
  • Reduced administration costs
  • High levels of satisfaction with internal support services
  • More projects delivered on time and on budget
  • Delivery of budget proposals
  • Improved staff wellbeing

What our residents think

The most recent residents' survey shows that over the past two years the proportion of respondents who are neither satisfied nor dissatisfied with the way that the Council runs things has increased to 32 per cent. Alongside this, the proportion who are satisfied has fallen to 47 per cent. Similarly, the percentage of respondents who feel that the council provides value for money has fallen to 33 per cent, and the proportion who agree that they can influence decisions made by the Council which affect their local area has fallen to 20 per cent.

Discussions on this priority focused on improving communications with the public and service users whilst avoiding a 'one size fits all' approach and exploring other ways of raising money, including fundraising activities and external funding resources. Cutting through this, as well as being raised against other priority areas, is an appetite for community engagement and further, continued involvement in taking forward plans for west Cheshire.

Glad to see that you are reaching out to people like this. Good luck.
Twitter respondent commenting on the Council's engagement around the Council Plan.

How the Council will play its part

Across the Council we will take the following actions so we can continue to balance the books and address the challenges faced by our communities.

Continue to maintain good democratic and transparent decision-making with a robust scrutiny function and careful use of public money. As part of this we will work to become a more responsive organisation and build on the way that we engage with local people. We will look at innovative engagement techniques such as a citizens' jury to enable residents to engage in depth with some of the complex challenges we face and provide recommendations. We will also explore 'participatory budgeting' where local communities can vote on where to spend allocations of council funding in their communities. We will help local councillors to develop ward plans to tackle local issues and support them to fully engage with their communities. Strong links with town and parish councils, emerging care communities, district advisory panels, community groups and resident associations are essential and we are interested in how relationships can be further improved.

Use digitaltechnology to automate key process and to make our services more accessible to residents. This will include a new digital engagement platform that makes it easier for residents to engage with the Council and have their say, as well as the development of an on-line residents' survey panel.

Use more sophisticated data and intelligence to ensure we are focusing on the right things and making a difference.

Strengthen links with and support for the voluntary and community sector. The sector plays a vital role in delivering services and support across all our communities with the support it brings to the Cheshire and Warrington region having an estimated value of over £266 million. The Council provides funding of over £11 million for grants, commissioned services and support with things like business rates and rent every year.. As funding becomes tighter, we want to work with the sector to identify improvements to make this support go further and potentially identify efficiencies. Areas we want to explore include how we support the sector to bid for funding; how we support smaller organisations to access grants; how the sector could have more certainty over its funding over a longer period of time; how the sector supports itself and shares best practice; and where the sector can add the greatest value to the objectives of the Council and the borough.

Explore different ways of encouraging volunteering in communities through models such as time credits where volunteers are given access to a leisure or cultural opportunity in return for their time.

Share our costs with other organisations whether they are local agencies or neighbouring authorities.

Support people across the whole system of service delivery not just through individual services working in isolation.

Support a programme of service redesign to ensure everything we deliver adds value to the customer.

Review our models of delivery and consider all options for future delivery, including insourcing services back from private organisations.

Ensure our Council-owned companies are successful, good employers and are fully aligned to the values and priorities of the borough.

Ensure our contracts for services have the right focus, engage local suppliers where possible, and are delivering value for money.

Reviewing our property estate to reduce our running costs and support more staff to work flexibly.

Make prudent, local investments that have a return to the taxpayer.

Review our back office support services to ensure they are fully focused on delivering against the Council's priorities.

Work with staff to ensure they have the skills, support and opportunity to make a contribution to the challenges outlined in this document.

Improve the effectiveness and value for money of the services we share with other councils; including our joint transactional services in partnership with Cheshire East.

How residents can play their part

By transacting with us through digital mechanisms such as the website and Council app you will get a faster response, know where things are up to and reduce our costs.

Good services meet the needs of customers. We want to hear your ideas on where we can improve and also what we do well.

The Council has a wide range of responsibilities, particularly in relation to vulnerable adults and children. We will not always have the resources to respond as quickly as we would like and we would hope this would be recognised by our communities.

Transforming Adult Social Care

Cheshire West and Chester's Pathway to Independence Programme was designed to overcome a number of challenges facing our Adult Social Care Teams, and to better deliver the right care in the right place at the right time for many of our borough's most vulnerable residents. As a result, our staff feel better able to perform their roles effectively, our residents are receiving a far more effective service; and the programme is set to save the Council more than £1million over a four-year period.

Investing in our priorities

Corporate services support good decision-making, efficient support across the organisation and innovation. In 2020-21 we plan to spend £36.1 million on the delivery of these services (a reduction of 1 per cent from the current budget). In addition we will hold £45.3m centrally on behalf of all Council services to support the delivery of all Council priorities (a reduction of 2 per cent from the current budget).

We are considering proposals to invest £71.8 million of capital over the next four years to support our plans on technology, buildings and an efficient Council fleet.

Who needs to be involved to make this happen?

  • Finance
  • Legal
  • Localities
  • Property
  • Transformation
  • Human Resources
  • Communications
  • Insight and Intelligence
  • Information Communication Technology

We will also work with our partners, particularly neighbouring councils, to deliver reduced costs.

Supporting plans and strategies

  • Medium Term Financial Strategy
  • Procurement Strategy

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