an online interactive publication
Innovate for success How several councils are leading the way with innovations in service provision
Birmingham set for turnaround Why the city council's new Chief Exec is aiming high
Also inside: • How to transform the Disabilities Funding Grant process • What goes on at the iESE Innovation Club and how to join • Find out more about upcoming iESE events
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Page 2 Welcome letter from Dr Andrew Larner, Chief Executive at iESE. iESE news: Upcoming Innovation Club event
Page 3 iESE news: Financial resilience event, iESE new appointments and White Paper news
Page 4 A new Chief Exec for Birmingham City Council: Dawn Baxendale outlines her battle plan
Page 5 Take a look at how iESE is transforming the Disabilities Funding Grant (DFG) process
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Change to sustain here is little doubt change can be disruptive but, in the current era of austerity, change can also help sustain services and in, many cases, transform them for the better.
Dr Andrew Larner, Chief Executive
@LaverdaJota Taking a fresh look at how things are done and how they are run is never the easy option. It may mean unpicking initiatives already underway to find ways of working which deliver greater impact. It may mean spending more of an already tight budget now in order to reap future savings. In this issue of Transform we highlight how several councils have benefited their organisation and customers through innovation. We also feature an exclusive interview with the new Chief Executive at Birmingham City Council, Dawn Baxendale, about her previous successes at Southampton City Council and how she plans to make her mark at Birmingham City Council. Don't forget we are keen to hear your transformation news and views. This is a publication for everyone in the sector to share practical experience that can help transform local public services. One of our key goals is to share our work to benefit local public services. We introduce clients to each other to allow them to share their experience and learn from each other. One of the ways we do this, among others, is through our Innovation Club. You can read more about this and how to join in this issue. Please send press releases, other information and feedback, through to firstname.lastname@example.org
Dr Andrew Larner and the iESE team
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Pages 6-7 Innovation Club stories: Read four presentations from our recent Innovation Club meeting and find out how to join EDITORIAL CONTACTS TRANSFORM IS PRODUCED BY: iESE www.iese.org.uk Tel: 08434 878 025 Email: email@example.com @iESELtd CREDITS: Editorial by: Vicki Arnstein Designed by: SMK Design Views expressed within are those of the iESE editorial team. iESE is distributed on a triannual basis to companies and individuals with an interest in reviewing, remodelling and reinventing public services. ÂŠ Copyright iESE 2018
Innovation Club hosts prestigious event EAST AYRSHIRE COUNCIL WILL BE COHOSTING AN INNOVATION CLUB EVENT WITH IESE ON THE 14TH AND 15TH JUNE. The two-day event, taking place at the prestigious Dumfries House in Ayrshire, Scotland, will be attended by iESE Innovation Club members and other guests. Delegates will take part in workshops and sessions where they will gather insight into the work East Ayrshire Council has done around community engagement and health and social care. The council, which won iESE Council of the Year in 2017, took the top award due to a range of transformations across the organisation. The council also collected several 2018 awards: one for its Respectful Funeral Service, which aims to
address issues relating to funeral poverty, one for its Front Door Community Service, which is working to connect people within communities, and another for its trailblazing Waste Management Service. Delegates at the event will have plenty of opportunity to network and will be taken on a 'seeing is believing' tour where they will visit the council's groundbreaking projects. "This will be a great opportunity for participants to see what is happening at the coalface," said Teresa Skinner, Membership Manager at iESE. "Guests will be able to see and learn more about what East Ayrshire is doing, allowing them to take the learning back to their own organisation." To find out more about joining our Innovation Club see the box on page 7
Help shape the future of public services We currently have opportunities for full-time and part-time experienced and junior consultants, as well as associates who share our passion for transforming local public services. A not-for-profit social enterprise, iESE has been developing innovative ways of working in local public services for more than ten years. Our ethos is to design and build public services from the customer's perspective and, unlike other consultants, we aim to share our knowledge to build capacity in the sector not dependency. If you are interested in joining the team, send a CV and covering letter to: firstname.lastname@example.org
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A P P O I N T M E N T S
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Check your financial resilience FINANCE AND CORPORATE DIRECTORS WITH RESPONSIBILITY FOR RESOURCES ARE INVITED TO ATTEND A FINANCIAL RESILIENCE EVENT RUN BY IESE AND PIXEL FINANCIAL MANAGEMENT. Taking place on 26th June in London, delegates will learn what a resilient authority looks like, how financial resilience is measured in other sectors and what measures would be included in a resilience index. The event will also see the launch of a resilience toolkit from iESE partner Pixel Financial Management to help local authorities manage financial resilience and will cover an introduction to iESE's financial readiness assessments. "When you look at what is happening to local government funding it is essential that authorities understand their financial position," said Dr Andrew Larner, Chief Executive at iESE. "It is vital to start looking ahead rather than always looking behind in the rear-view mirror." Delegates will hear an update around the reserve levels in all 351 local authorities and will each be given a short bespoke report. The event will also cover up-to-date research around financial resilience and cover case studies where iESE has assisted local authorities with understanding their financial position. The cost of the event is £195 for members of iESE or Pixel and £295 for nonmembers. To book a place email email@example.com or call us on 08434 878 025
Make your views count IESE IS SEEKING YOUR INPUT INTO A RESEARCH QUESTIONNAIRE TO HELP GATHER DATA FOR OUR NEXT WHITE PAPER. The survey, which has 12 questions, examines the journey most councils are on from improvement to transformation to innovation. The findings will help us build on our last White Paper, From surviving to thriving, which gathered the views of more than 100 local authorities on a sustainable model for local authorities and the impact of budget cuts. The previous White Paper found the priorities of local authorities had completely switched in the five years prior to publication in 2015 and what they anticipated would be their priorities in the following five years. Prior to 2015, 20 per cent said reinvention was a low focus area, with 80 per cent Graph A stating reviewing and remodelling was a high focus. However, for the five years ahead to 2020, 90 per cent said reinvention would be a high focus (see graph A). When it came to addressing fiscal challenges, only 63 per cent said the focus would be on cost control, whilst 79 per cent said organisational transformation would be a priority. Furthermore, councils were more optimistic about achieving financial savings in the short rather than the long-term. The next research paper will look at whether the predictions were correct. It will also explore how to achieve better customer focus, and how that is not only key to delivering a good customer experience, improved staff morale and bottomline savings, but essential to the understanding of needs that will prevent demand for service. "We want to see how the sector's thinking has moved on," said Dr Andrew Larner, Chief Executive at iESE. "The initial feedback is that pursuing customer focus - where the customer can be the resident, business or an area - is the heart of transformation. What's your experience on how ready your authority is to meet the challenge?" The survey should take ten minutes to complete. If you would like to receive a copy of the previous White Paper, From Surviving to Thriving, leave your email address at the end of the survey. To give your views for the research paper visit: www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/iESE2018CustomerFocusWP
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iESE expands its team Peter Kilkenny - Senior Consultant Peter Kilkenny has joined iESE as a Senior Consultant. With a broad range of operational experience in the public, private and third sector, he is already working on a major transformation project for a local authority in North London, has completed a project in Greater Manchester and is currently carrying out a major efficiency review in Belfast. Starting his career in the leisure sector, Kilkenny has Peter Kilkenny held posts as the Head of Service at Grimsby Borough Senior Consultant Council, as Director of Leisure at Humberside County Council and Head of Services at City of York Council. He was also Deputy Managing Director of a social enterprise in Greater Manchester and spent seven years with the Audit Commission working across a range of sectors in a variety of inspectorate roles. His most recent post before joining iESE was with a private sector consultancy as a Director for local government services. Kilkenny has helped deliver increased commercial revenue across a range of public and private sector services. Experienced in strategic commissioning, he has led the investment of more than £35m of capital programmes, resulting in significant improvements in overall community and customer satisfaction. He has also led a strategic commissioning programme for health and social care integration covering £58m of health and community services. A strong team player, he is looking forward to working with iESE clients to share his knowledge and experience. "I come from an operator's background but with lots of executive management experience" says Kilkenny. "I have led more than 50 Local Government service reviews, including options appraisals in adult social care and leisure. I have also transferred services into new delivery models in the London Borough of Newham, Hull, the Wirral and Birmingham City Council."
Graham Simmons - Senior Business Consultant Graham Simmons has been appointed as a Senior Business Consultant. Simmons, who joined iESE fulltime in January, previously worked as a Managing Consultant with Capita Transformation - an arm of the consultancy Capita. Capita Transformation works with partnerships Capita has formed with local authorities and other Graham Simmons clients. At Capita, Simmons wrote the customer Senior Business access strategy for one of its biggest local authority Consultant clients, the London Borough of Barnet. This involved liaising with each service and working out how each might achieve a digital channel shift for customers where appropriate. Before Capita, he was a Principal Consultant with Charteris, acting as the lead for the South West Regional Improvement and Efficiency Partnership which brought 16 local authorities together to improve the customer experience in adult social care. Simmons has several projects underway at iESE, including the Disabilities Funding Grant (DFG) project across West Sussex for people who need an adaptation to remain independent in their own home, such as a hand rail, level-access shower or stair lift. He is also working with colleagues on a council-wide transformation programme for the Borough of Broxbourne Council and leading a customer experience redesign project for Sevenoaks District Council. "I have a broad range and depth of experience over many years, so not just knowing the methods of transformational change techniques but having the experience of applying them in all different types of situations and with all different types of stakeholders," said Simmons. "The experience of engaging with people is as important as knowledge about techniques and data. It is people who change organisations, not data." To find out more about the DFG project, see the feature on page 5 Would you like to share your news and views with Transform? We would like to hear your thoughts and opinions. Send any press releases or suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org
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Raising the bar at Birmingham City Council Birmingham City Council has a new Chief Executive at the helm with big ambitions to put the city in the spotlight for the right reasons. Recognised as an authority which has been struggling, Dawn Baxendale outlines her goal to turn the largest local authority in the UK into the most improved council in the UK D
awn Baxendale, former Chief Executive of Southampton City Council, took up the post of Chief Executive of Birmingham City Council in April 2018. Becoming the third chief executive at Birmingham in four years is of no concern, with Baxendale keen to make her mark and turn the council's fortunes around. "Everyone thinks this job can't be done, well I don't believe that. I am relishing the challenges and the opportunities," she says. Birmingham City Council is the largest council in the UK. It has 101 councillors representing 1,128,000 citizens in 69 wards. It has been struggling for a number of years, with a government-appointed improvement panel put in to oversee the council in 2014. But Baxendale, who joins from Southampton where she successfully carried out a change programme whilst significantly reducing its large deficit, is not fazed. Baxendale joins at a time when Birmingham has significant opportunities ahead. It will be at the heart of HS2, the government's flagship rail development programme giving high-speed links between London and the city, and has been chosen to host the 2022 Commonwealth Games. "There are huge opportunities in Birmingham. It is growing tremendously with a huge amount of energy and then you put in HS2, the Commonwealth Games, the economic fundamentals in the West Midlands and you have a fantastic set of ingredients. There are some very strong partnerships here that when the city council
behaves differently we will be able to maximise significantly," she adds. Her ultimate goal is a big one. "I want to inspire my staff to want to be the most improved council in the country. That is the battle plan. I would not be here if I didn't think we could do it and, more importantly, if I did not think the fundamentals are here and [the challenges] could be resolved."
Changing reputations Some of the challenges ahead are not dissimilar to those Baxendale faced at Southampton. When listing the achievements she is proudest of from her time there she puts changing the reputation of Southampton at the top. "It was an authority known for having quite a few troubles and was a difficult place to work. It is now regarded as highly innovative and a place where people want to be." This shift was achieved through a cultural and behavioural change programme carried out at the same time as tackling the authority's ÂŁ100m deficit, which was reduced to ÂŁ8m during Baxendale's tenure. "It was about re-energising the workforce to be the best that they could possibly be," she explains. Under the programme, staff helped develop the list of behaviours the council needed to change its culture. These were put into everyone's appraisal contract, with all of the senior team recruited on that basis. Taking children's services at Southampton from being a "very difficult
environment" to one where staff believed they could make an impact on children's lives was another highlight. "Children's services is not my background but I was immensely proud of the work we did there," she adds. Baxendale, who will now have to work closely with the government-appointed improvement panel, was at one stage working for five cabinet members and the leader of Southampton. She is well experienced in fixing problems. "The first job I had at Southampton was the Assistant Chief Exec for Economic Development and Regeneration and then I don't think I had a single job - up until becoming the Chief Exec - that lasted more than a year," she explains. "It was a case that members would give you something to fix, you would fix it and then they would give you another set of problems to sort out. That is what it was like for the first four years. I ended up delivering big parts of the council's agenda." This included launching Southampton's 'master plan' in 2012 - a ÂŁ3bn investment profile intended to be delivered over 20 years but which was delivered in six.
Empowering all employees Harnessing the abilities of all employees at Birmingham City Council, of which there are approximately 13,000, and empowering them to succeed is something Baxendale feels will be key to her success. "It is a team effort and it is about how
DAWN BAXENDALE: A BRIEF CV Dawn Baxendale started off her career with a fasttrack management scheme with the European Commission in Brussels. At the end of this placement she turned down the offer of a permanent position, returning to the UK instead to work in local government. Her first civil service job was with the Department of Trade and Industry where she became part of the Doncaster task force in 1989. Originally From Huddersfield, Baxendale has worked the length of the country from Wigan to the
Isle of Wight, through to Portsmouth and Havant during the past twenty years. Baxendale became Chief Executive Officer of Southampton City Council in 2013 - a role she held until March 2018. She previously held several other roles within Southampton City Council, starting in 2009 as the Assistant Chief Exec for Economic Development and Regeneration. Baxendale became Chief Executive of Birmingham City Council - the largest local authority in the UK - in April 2018.
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iESE helps improve the DFG process iESE has been working across West Sussex to give customers better access to the Disabled Facilities Grant (DFG) and could help other local authorities do the same you bring all the skills to bear that you have at different levels of your organisation. Institutions don't change things, individuals do." The first few weeks at Birmingham have been about getting to know the organisation but driving up performance through behaviour change is already on the agenda. As for most councils in the UK, there is a deficit to reduce, and Baxendale will be looking to fundamentally drive improvement at all levels. "How do you get results that deliver what the politicians need, are financially viable and provide better services for residents and stronger partnerships in your city? That is what we are concentrating on. Day in, day out - as boring as it might be - that is what builds reputation." When asked if she always wanted to become a chief executive, Baxendale says she has always taken into consideration at each level whether she has the ability to deliver. When she was aged 28, and already at head of service level, she started to consider that she could later rise to chief executive. She stresses that at each stage she has carefully considered whether she has performed well and was capable of going to the next stage. "I have always been really honest with myself about that," she adds. One of her criteria has also been that whatever decisions she has to take, she needs to be able to sleep at night at ease with her choices. Ultimately, she keeps in mind that a local authority is dealing with public money and that there is a duty and a responsibility to spend it wisely. In recent years, innovation has been necessary due to the funding deficit. "We have had to do things differently because of the lack of resource. For many places it has also been about tackling the really difficult issues whereas before they may not have been tackled. It has forced you into a situation where you have to make decisions that are different." And what does Baxendale think the future holds for local government? "I think we will be working more in collaboration, particularly with other public partners, the private sector and voluntary sector. It is not just about the financial issues, it is about delivering dynamic, agile places. How you do that with big players like health and the private sector and higher education? They are real catalysts of creating a different environment where your population can aspire and thrive," she notes. n
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hrough the DFG, people with a disability can apply for adaptations to their home to help them continue to live independently. The link between a good home environment and good health and care is increasingly being recognised, and the DFG funding allocations (from central government) have increased significantly over the last few years. However, inflexible policies and delivery approaches can get in the way of reaching all those who could be helped. One of the issues with the DFG is the involvement of many different teams responsible for different elements, for example occupational therapists, grants officers, housing providers and contractors. Each with their own processes, approval points and sometimes waiting lists, this can easily result in multiple handoffs and delays in getting adaptations approved and completed. Working initially with Chichester District Council and their West Sussex County Council colleagues, iESE reviewed the end-to-end process from the customer perspective, identifying unnecessary steps which didnâ€™t add value for the customer but added to the delivery time. Then, using a â€œtest and learnâ€? approach, changes to the process were trialled to see what worked best for the customer. At the heart of the project is the principle of 'doing what matters to the customer' and giving the customer choice. Following from this, the West Sussex Chief Executives gave the go-ahead for iESE to lead a project across the county involving all seven districts and boroughs, the County Council, housing providers, health partners and adaptations
contractors - through which we have collaboratively delivered more flexible use of DFG funding via use of a Regulatory Reform order (RRO) and reduced end-toend delivery times for the customer through more joined up working across all aspects of delivery. Though significant progress has already been made, West Sussex is currently putting in place an easy-to-access process with a single point of contact for hospitals to refer patients for grants to enable timely hospital discharge. And a further step will be consideration of greater sharing of resources across the county to better meet variation in demand. An important part in delivering such a project is to have clear measures of the process to be able to see what impact is being made for the customer, not simply spend and number of adaptations, but also delivery times end-to-end for each process stage, types of discretionary grant awarded and the reasons and process stage for customers dropping out.
"As a result of our work with West Sussex we have created the DFG Dashboard, a product which we are excited to offer to the market," said Vanda Leary, Senior Consultant at iESE. "With a national review of the DFG underway and soon to report, this is an excellent time for housing, health and social care partners to jointly tackle this important issue, and our learning from West Sussex can be rolled out to others delivering the DFG." To speak to iESE about the DFG, email email@example.com or call 08434 878 025 n
F E A T U R E
Innovation for the nation The iESE Innovation Club meets regularly throughout the year allowing members to network and share their best-practice news. Here we outline the innovations shared at a recent meeting and invite you to join us
he iESE Innovation Club meets regularly throughout the year allowing members to network and share their best-practice news. At our meeting in March, several councils and one service provider spoke about the ways they are innovating across their services and how this is delivering a better service and making savings. The speakers were from the Borough of Broxbourne, Milton Keynes Council, Folkestone & Hythe District Council (formerly Shepway District Council) and election service software provider Modern Democracy.
1. Borough of Broxbourne: REINVENTING SERVICES Broxbourne Council has been working on the link between its inhouse leisure delivery service and the health of its residents. The district council in the South East of Hertfordshire has a population of 96,000 with some areas of deprivation in the south of the borough near the council's largest leisure centre. The council runs two leisure centres, a golf centre and looks after various astroturf and grass pitches.
Wesley Hutchins, Head of Broxbourne Sport, Borough of Broxbourne Council
In the borough, 28 per cent of people are classed as obese, five per cent above the national average of 23 per cent. The new focus on health in the community, which started in 2007, has helped improve the health of residents and has taken the council's sports centres from being £400,000 in deficit to having a £1.1 million surplus. Wesley Hutchins, Head of Broxbourne Sport, said when he first visited one of the leisure centres he saw the service needed to be more customercentric. "There was a long queue and the receptionists were talking to each other. We have changed the processes, made everything more customer-centric and gone from 900 to 5,000 members as a result," he said. One of the changes was broadening the reach of junior activities with the swimming pool, for example, now open all year round. The demographics have been widened further with more focus on activities for older members of the community and the development of better disabled access. "We are running activities in the north and south of the borough linked to competitive sport for disabled customers and we are also now looking to develop pod-style entry systems for our pools to further improve levels of participation," added Hutchins. Older residents, who are being informed of activities through a magazine sent to those on the
council’s database and available in GP surgeries and council offices, are also being encouraged to make use of the council's new eGym. The electronic circuit gym works through a user wrist band which when tapped on equipment automatically sets it up for the individual. State-of-the art equipment measures body mass index and body fat and gives users their biometric age. The council is also launching a free fitness app where users can track their progress, book fitness classes and receive rewards for achieving certain fitness goals. This will also be used in future to push motivational messages out to groups such as the diabetes pathway group. Hutchins said that with the popularity already shown by users the eGym should pay for itself within a year. Broxbourne has also launched a scheme called Active Hearts in collaboration with its health partners with funding from Hertfordshire County Public Health, Sport England and its Clinical Commissioning Groups, which aims to encourage local residents to take part in physical activity. GPs refer residents to the scheme who are put in touch with an Active Hearts specialist - a person who is there to point the way to activities and handhold them through the process. "We have had more than 700 referrals to date and there are already many positive testimonials from residents," explains Hutchins. Hutchins says the Active Hearts specialist role has been key to helping overloaded GPs help residents
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get more physically active. "This scheme should be replicated across the country. If we scaled this project up to one specialist role for every ten GP surgeries, I believe it would have a significant positive impact on the health of the country and the NHS," he added.
2. Milton Keynes Council: DIGITAL TRANSFORMATION AND SMART CITY Milton Keynes Council (MKC) has been undergoing a rapid digital transformation over the last few years with a new digital platform delivered in April 2016. Overall, the programme has saved the council approximately £650,000 since it began, but has been Hannah Brunt, developed with a customer-first Corporate Website perspective taking customer and Social Media Manager, Milton feedback into account. Keynes Council There is now a 'Report It' feature where local people can report issues, such as street lamps not working or pot holes, for example. When someone reports an issue they are given a reference number and are then able to track its progression. A housing selfhelp tool is also featured in the digital platform. The channel shift has seen online transactions with the council increasing from 28 per cent to 62 per cent. "When I joined the council in 2015 the website was mobile responsive but not very user-friendly," said Hannah Brunt, Corporate Website and Social Media Manager at MK Council. As part of the transformation a review identified that having 150 people authorised to edit parts of the website was not delivering the best content. This was reduced to 30 people who were given advanced training around usability and search engine optimisation. "We won best accessible council website in 2016, which was brilliant," added Brunt. The council has also recently won digital council of the year in the Local Government Chronicle awards. A greater commercial focus has allowed MK to generate between £4,000 and £5,000 per year by allowing external advertising on its website. The planning service has also started to charge for some of its services, including an online facility allowing you to choose your planning officer. In 2015, Milton Keynes became home to MK:Smart, a £16m research project lead by the
Open University and partners across local businesses, government and research to develop new smart technologies and work out how to integrate them into the city. This means everything is measured around the city, such as being able to show residents where parking spaces are. The council is talking to taxi companies about driverless vehicles and autonomous robots are currently being trialled for deliveries. Realising residents may need help to make use of and interact with technological developments, MK runs events and training to help equip them with online skills.
3. Modern Democracy: ELECTION PLATFORM POLL MANAGER Modern Democracy has been focusing on the digital transformation of democratic services since 2014. The team has worked in the electoral sector since 2002. More recently it has been looking more closely at how mobile and tablet technology can Siobhan Donaghy, contribute to its services. CEO, Modern Modern Democracy's digital Democracy platform supports the entire democratic process - pre, during and post event. Before the election it can help with planning, registration of voters, communications and using technology to engage voters. On election day it can assist with real-time communications, with counting and the dissemination of results. After election day it can use analytics to understand what happened at different polling stations and allow councils to take this information and review their resources going forward. "Communication on election day is traditionally done by phone or by paper by the election manager, which makes it hard to find out what is happening" explained Siobhan Donaghy, CEO of Modern Democracy. "Do you have any queues, do you have any problems with your register, are there things you need and are there any staffing issues?" With the Modern Democracy system communications are fed through to a onsite mobile or tablet at each polling station and then back to the election manager, allowing communications to be reviewed and responded to
JOIN THE CLUB The iESE Innovation Club meets at regular knowledge-sharing events where officers and councillors from member bodies can network and gain insight into good practice and the latest thinking and innovative ideas. Providing a confidential forum to share ideas and concerns, the club gives members a platform for honest exchanges around successes and challenges. As well as several events throughout the year, such as the two-day session taking place in June at Dumfries House in Scotland, members also gain access to an online interactive forum. Annual membership to the club gives each authority access to one rapid diagnostic review
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per year undertaken by iESE consultants. This two-week process enables authorities to get a clear picture of latest impacts on budgets, current performance and savings opportunities. Membership also gives attendance for up to three people to each Innovation Club event throughout the year and to regional showcase events hosted by members. Membership also gives preferential rates for attendance to other iESE and partner events. To read more about the event at Dumfries house, see page 2. To find out more about joining the Innovation Club contact firstname.lastname@example.org
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immediately. All messages are logged and a message can be sent to all stations at the same time then allowing the election manager to see who has opened and read it. With staff at the polling stations updating their online information on a regular basis, the election manager can also see instant voter turnout and the number of ballot papers issued at each polling station. "We are working closely with democratic services teams to transform processes, and deliver democratic solutions for a modern world," added Donaghy.
4. Folkestone & Hythe District Council: REVENUES AND BENEFITS TRANSFORMATION At Folkestone & Hythe District Council (formerly Shepway District Council) the Revenues and Benefits team has been undergoing a transformation to enable it to give better service to customers and make savings. One of the ways this has been Andrew Hatcher, achieved is by putting its paperRevenues and based forms, some of which were Benefits Strategic 36-pages long, online. Previously Manager, Folkestone & Hythe District forms had to be taken in or Council posted to the council, scanned into the system, indexed and then looked at by officers within office hours. The officers also had to check 100 per cent of the evidence brought in. "We changed the process so that we now need to collect evidence in less than half of the cases," said Andrew Hatcher, Revenues and Benefits Strategic Manager at Folkestone & Hythe District Council. "We also introduced web chat, forms are available to be filled in 24-7 and we increased the hours of our contact centre for web chat to include weekends and evenings. The forms are now reactive – if a person does not need to answer certain questions then they don't come up – and you can save the form and come back to it later." To achieve the shift, the council conducted staff and customer surveys and met with partner agencies. It also introduced scan stations at its offices where customers can scan in documents and evidence the council needs. This goes into a back office system and is indexed automatically. Customers can also scan things in from home. "The process is automated. A large part of the work used to be data entry," said Hatcher. The council has also brought its council tax and benefits teams together to create revenue and benefits officers, giving a more seamless service to the customer, and has introduced a portal for landlords so that those who receive benefits payments from their tenants can check their accounts and report issues. The key difference is that face-to-face contact with the customer has decreased by 63 per cent, allowing officers to help those who really need it. The team of officers has also decreased. The processing department used to account for 28.3 full-time equivalent officers plus four seniors but is now 12.8 officers plus two seniors. Appreciating the benefits of the changes, the council is not resting on its laurels. "We continue to have ongoing service improvement meetings," added Hatcher. n
Our experience in delivering excellence in disabled facilities grants makes us the ideal partner to enable better lives for residents and ensure you save money.
To get your free factsheet on achieving service excellence, visit www.iese.org.uk/dfgmj or call us on 08434 878026
iESE helping residents live independently with the adaptations they need Benchmarking