That is the message from East Ayrshire Council as its Transformation Strategy 2017-22 was endorsed by elected members at the Council meeting on 28 June 2018.
The Strategy aims to secure a fairer, kinder and more connected East Ayrshire through re-designed Council services that are both financially viable and also best serve the needs of communities. This new approach has been informed by the feedback from Vibrant Voices engagement campaign, which was also used to identify the key actions that will now be taken forward.
The Strategy sets out a new direction for the Council, which faces a reduced budget of £32m over the next three years. However, this also provides opportunities to rethink and redesign services that are fit for the 21st century. It builds on the solid foundations laid by the previous Transformation Strategy 2012-2017, which identified savings of £34m through a well-planned programme of service rationalisation and redesign.
The new Strategy outlines a programme of transformational change over the next three years. Looking to the future, East Ayrshire Council will be a smaller organisation. With a well-trained, flexible workforce committed to public service, the Council will empower communities to share in decision making and provide new opportunities for joint delivery of services.
There will be a strong focus on tackling poverty and reducing inequality through early intervention and prevention.
There will be a particular focus on recruiting and developing young people within the organisation, with a commitment to providing more apprenticeship and graduate positions by 2022.
Better use of new technology will allow staff to become more flexible and responsive and enable citizens to access services online, helping to reduce Council costs and providing a better customer experience. New opportunities to raise income through commercialisation, sponsorship and investment will also be explored.
Overall, there will be a continued focus on delivering high quality services with people and communities the heart of the process. Initially, there will be a fundamental review of services to determine what will be relevant to the needs of local communities and what services the Council should deliver in the future.
Service redesign will be innovative and joined-up to identify alternative options and the customer will have a central role in this process
Communities will play a pivotal role in helping to redesign and reshape services and the Council will continue to help and support communities to reduce demand on professionally-led services and build on local strengths and assets. This will build on the excellent work that has already taken place across communities and will involve employees and communities working closely together to shape the Council’s future.
Fiona Lees, Chief Executive, East Ayrshire Council said: “Our Transformation Strategy is ambitious and challenging and will bring significant change to the organisation. We will transform to become a smaller Council, employing fewer people, whilst maintaining high quality services that meet the needs of the people we serve. In normal circumstances, around 360 individuals leave the Council each year either for new jobs or through retirement. Cultural change and service redesign will determine the future workforce of the Council and help manage any natural reduction in numbers.
“The Strategy takes account of the recommendations made in our recent excellent Best Value Assurance Report, which confirmed that ‘with an already strong track record of partnership working and improvement, East Ayrshire Council is well-placed to tackle the necessary changes’.
“People will continue to be at the very heart of everything we do and as the workstreams evolve we will involve our employees, our communities and our partners to ensure we deliver a fairer, kinder and connected East Ayrshire.”
Councillor Douglas Reid, Leader of East Ayrshire Council, welcomed the Strategy. He said “Speaking on behalf of all East Ayrshire elected members, I commend the proposals outlined in this Strategy. We’ve taken a longer term view for transformation in East Ayrshire, and this Strategy will build on our achievements to date, in terms of how we continue to engage with communities around service delivery.
“Transformation is well embedded across the Council with members and officers working collaboratively to ensure this becomes part of our everyday business as we look to deliver real value for our communities.”
Councillor John McGhee, Leader of East Ayrshire Labour group also commended the Strategy.
He said: “I have been fortunate enough to attend transformation meetings with other members and our visits to other councils have demonstrated exactly what could be successfully done, despite huge cuts, in supporting our communities who we are elected to represent.
“However, as the year on year cuts continue to have a significant impact on our council I would welcome the opportunity for all councillors to engage even more with the transformation strategy and help shape the way forward.”
“I am pleased that all parties have today agreed to write to COSLA, Scottish and UK Governments to express our concerns over continued reduction in funding for local authorities.”
Councillor Tom Cook, Leader of East Ayrshire Conservative group agreed. He said: “In developing this Strategy we’ve listened to our communities and our staff and we’ve looked at examples of best practice in other areas. Collectively we can deliver real value for our communities and this Strategy will help us achieve this.”
View the full report here: