29 May 2009

Public Service Reform... but not as we know it!

This is a "story of how democracy can make public services genuinely efficient" by Hilary Wainwright and Matthew Little - and published by Compass and UNISON with support from the Transnational Institute and the International Centre for Participation Studies, Bradford University and distributed by Picnic Publishing. 

This piece sets out to discuss why "few political leaders in either of the two parties responsible for founding the welfare state positively promote the idea of public sector staff themselves working with citizens and elected politicians creatively to improve the services that they deliver". It challenges the view of "the Westminster village" that "public service reform means marketisation and outsourcing to the private sector".

"This book recounts the story of a workforce that seems to have ‘energised’ itself through playing an active part in a well organised branch of UNISON. Between 2000 and 2002, this union and these workers successfully resisted the outsourcing to the private sector of Newcastle City Council’s corporate ‘back office’ and customer services, and then worked closely with management to see through an ‘in-house’ plan for improving services"


I have only just downloaded it (thanks to Clifford Singer for the link) - but appears to be a good read. You may agree with its trade union foundations or not - but it appears to be useful exposition of innovation and improvement in practice. But do let me know what you think!

Some questions to support creativity...

Here are some questions I have developed over the years - which I often use to help people take a different perspective on their system / process. I present them as 'solutions looking for problems' - so some of them will fit - and others will not. You will only know if you ask the question... 

  • Have we agreed the stakeholder requirements?
  • Are the providers involved adequately trained?
  • Are there too many ‘handovers’
  • Is the process being done in the right order?
  • Could it be made simpler with a ‘triage’ stage?
  • Could we make better use of technology?
  • Where are the sources of rework?
  • Why does performance vary – and by how much?
  • Could some parts of the process be done at the same time?
  • Are there too many checks and controls?
  • Could we get the users / clients / etc. to do more?
  • Could we get our partners or suppliers to take action?
  • Could we create an expert system to make it work better?
  • Is there a ‘standard’ way of carrying out the process?
  • Where are the delays in the process?
  • Could different people or agencies be providing the service (or part of it)?
  • Have we made any cultural or professional assumptions that are getting in the way?
  • Are the performance measures helping?
  • Could we stop doing the process altogether?
  • Are decision making protocols getting in the way?
  • Does the process contribute to outcome goals? 

My vision is that each of these questions is a lens to hold up to the process / system and see if it brings something useful into sharper view. Do let me know if you use them and find them useful. I have said in the past that these questions come with a guarantee - I promise you will find at least one if not several ways to improve your process / system if you ask them. No one has claimed a warranty yet... but who knows!

(This is part of a longer blog posting on my other blog. If you wish to see the whole article: http://jonharveyassociates.blogspot.com/2009/05/improving-whole-systems-with-creativity.html)

26 May 2009

Empowerment in Kent

"The Kent Card is a revolutionary system enabling people to use their direct payments to pay for their Adult Social Care Services. 


Kent County Council, in partnership with The Royal Bank of Scotland, have developed this Visa preloaded card to allow users to pay for their services via Chip and Pin, over the phone and on the internet." 

Direct payment empowerment - great idea! (Should we call this 'empayerment*' ?!)

* you heard it here first!

Server Recovery Project

The Council has entered into a joint procurement agreement with Winchester City Council and East Hampshire District Council. The procurement enables the council to benefit from the assurance of server support with the benefit of not having to go through the full procurement exercise.

Thanks to the Isle of Wight Council for this example

Insurance Tender renewal

The Council has reviewed the Insurance Contract arrangements and sought to identify a range of firms to provide specific elements of cover, rather than going to one broker. This approach secured significant cost savings for the council based on the previous years costs of 31%, whilst providing an enhanced depth of protection including an increase of the Level of Indemnity cover to £50 million. The project was led by the Interim Head of Compliance and Insurance and Risk Manager, and is part of the Council’s ongoing pursuit of VFM and achievement of economy, effectiveness and efficiency.

Thanks to the Isle of Wight Council for this example

Mobile Phone Invoicing

The Council consolidated the mobile phone invoicing arrangements from individual invoices per phone to sub accounts. This reduced invoice volume from 13,560 in 2007 to 1788 invoices. Project was led by the Head of Procurement and part of the ongoing challenge and review of costs and the search for appropriate tariffs to match Council need – all related to improving economy, effectiveness, efficiency.

Thanks to the Isle of Wight Council for this example

Mobile Phone Tariffs

The Council has reviewed and continues to review the tariff arrangements available under the OGC GTM agreement with Orange for mobile phone provisions. This has achieved year on year ongoing savings for the council Project was led by the Head of Procurement and part of the ongoing challenge and review of costs and the search for appropriate tariffs to match Council need – all related to improving economy, effectiveness, efficiency.

Thanks to the Isle of Wight Council for this example

Advantages of co-location

Administrators that sat within 'business services' (IT, Business Change and HR) were co-located into a central area providing a more coordinated administrative support.The support provided by this centralised administrative support was enhanced with administrative support working as a team naturally supported each other with phone calls, absence cover, addressing strengths and weaknesses i.e. use of SAP. 

The support, buddying and mentoring within the administrative support team has allowed individuals to augment their skills and working together as a team to support the services also means less reliance on costly temporary staff. 

Thanks to West Sussex County Council for this example

Another cornucopia of good ideas

A selection of ideas from Fareham Borough Council - thanks for these.
  • Remove standalone printers/photocopiers/scanner and replaces with multifunctional devices.
  • Removed surplus waste paper bins
  • Use an intranet to publish policies, procedures and staff notices
  • Duplex printing
  • Electronic new starter and sickness absence process
  • Use of clean (post office) mail
  • Consolidate mobile phone supplier
  • Move to non-cheque payment process

Innovations Forum

The council has also introduced the ‘Innovations Forum’ – a staff suggestion scheme to encourage employees to suggest ways to improve efficiency save money or resources and improve working practices across the authority. The Innovations Forum has received 50 suggestions, some of which have been put in place, others are currently being looked into.

Thanks to Newark and Sherwood District Council for this example

Single contract for agency staff

Previously the council used a number of different agencies across the various service areas to supply temporary staff. This fragmented approach was not only inefficient due to the large number of purchase orders, manual timesheets and supplier invoices that had to be processed, but it was also a cause for concern with regard to the level of control, costs, risk and legal compliance. From September 2006 to August 2007 the council had to raise 384 purchase orders and 507 invoices to employ temporary staff.

Idea – Engage a single provider of temporary agency staff.

Results – Temporary workers are now engaged through a single service provider. From September 2007 to August 2008 the council spent a comparable amount on temporary staff however the number of purchase orders has dropped to 65 with just once invoice to process a week. Manual timesheets have been replaced with electronic timesheets which are all managed online.

The single contract has also secured the council a five per cent saving on the cost of temporary staff due to economies of scale.

Thanks to Newark and Sherwood District Council for this example

Eco buttons

The nature of council business means many officers come and go from their office throughout the day.

Eco buttons create a ‘power down’ affect on a PC once pressed. When a key is pressed or the mouse moved the computer powers up and the initial screen displays the amount in money and carbon saved by powering down.

Idea – To buy a set number of eco buttons to trial across the council. Officers who ask for them and think they will use them will be given them first of all.

Results – Unknown as yet. The eco buttons have just been delivered to the council. However a pilot programme with officers suggests that the £1,000 cost of the first 100 buttons will be off set in 18 months, after that giving a saving of £750 a year.

Thanks to Newark and Sherwood District Council for this example

New letterhead

The original council letter headed paper was printed in a three-colour print process – black text, green and blue logo. As part of the council’s new corporate style which was introduced in September 2007, the letterhead was redesigned.

Idea – Redesign the letterhead in a single colour to reduce printing costs.

Results – Letterhead now just in grey, the new corporate colour. The cost of buying 1,000 sheets of letter headed paper has dropped from £50 to £26.

Thanks to Newark and Sherwood District Council for this example

Customer comments procedure

As part of the council’s business improvement programme (‘Changing Focus’) a group of officers have been trained in ‘lean’ business techniques. This group looked at the customer comments procedure and found wasted time and resources by sending paper copies of the comment around the council.

The group estimated that in officer time, physical resources and processing customer comments cost the authority £147,863 a year

Idea – To buy a scanner to allow each comment to scanned in and moved round the organisation electronically.

Results – Customer comments process is quicker, more efficient and wastes fewer physical resources. By reducing the number of steps in the process, the time it takes and the physical resources used, £103,304 will be saved this year (based on the council receiving the average number of customer comments received in the last five years, 314). This is a saving of almost 70 per cent.

Thanks to Newark and Sherwood District Council for this example

Corporate wall planner

Each year Newark and Sherwood District Council spends around £500 on approximately 100 wall planners for all the different part of the organisation. Service areas order and pay for their own.

Idea – To have a corporate wall planner designed and printed in house which is made available to all service areas. It is also branded with our corporate style, including logo.

Results – Wall planner produced with a printing cost of 60p per planner. If 100 are ordered this year, the cost is reduced to £60.

Thanks to Newark and Sherwood District Council for this example

24 May 2009

First national survey seeking NHS staff’s views on Improvement and Innovation launches this week

The NHS Institute for Innovation and Improvement today launches its first National Innovation and Improvement Survey. Created in partnership with strategic health authorities, the survey offers all NHS staff in the UK an opportunity to influence the national innovation agenda.


Worth a visit if you are in the NHS. Feel free to mention this blog! (Thanks!)

23 May 2009

What makes this blog a little different (and more ideas wanted!)

Most times when I write to organisations I get an idea or two back - which I happily post here, with thanks. But just occasionally, I get an email written in semi-legalese explaining why they cannot contribute. The reasons boil down to a few categories: 

  • Our good ideas are our intellectual property and we cannot share them
  • If our staff upload ideas - they might get a pecuniary advantage
  • There are already lots of other / secure websites onto which ideas can be uploaded
  • The ideas being posted may not have been approved by the corporate structures
  • We don't have a list of small creative ideas in our organisation
  • I (Jon) might obtain a financial gain from the ideas

I appreciate these thoughts and the people have clearly gone to a great deal of trouble to explain why they cannot post an idea or two (or eight etc!) to the blog. However I would say the following, in response: 

  • If good ideas are shared - everyone can gain - there is no limit to creativity
  • I have always had a problem with intellectual property when it relates to the public services - since directly or indirectly - we all own the public services. How can one council (for example) keep thier ideas from a neighbour? Who 'wins' in that case?
  • I cannot think (but do tell me if I have overlooked something) what pecuniary advantage any person would get by posting an idea here. All that anyone will get - happily - is the recognition of their creativity and spirit and the good feeling that they might have helped someone else in the public or third sectors.
  • The only pecuniary advantage I get from this site is a few pennies from the google ads. Clearly the site is some marketing for me - but access to the site remains free - and will always be so.
  • It is a free good - like so much else on the net.
  • Yes there are other sites where good ideas can be uploaded - and some of these are secure. (Some need to be secure since some information probably should not be in the public domain.)
  • But do people (for example) working in local authorities know where to go to access good ideas from the NHS - or vice versa?
  • This blog has no boundaries - it is open to anyone from across the public and third sectors to exchange ideas.
  • This site is very secure in the belief that everyone can gain from this - especially the taxpayer / citizen!
  • Perhaps some of the ideas are outside the corporate line - but then perhaps some of the corporate lines are missing a few ideas. Moreover - I have found people to be entirely responsible and they are happy to post anonymously if they just want to share the idea without naming their organisation.If organisations don't have a list of small creative ideas - in some respects I would say - why not!?
  • Would it not be helpful to have an ideas store in every organisation into which people can dip and add ideas that work? (Inter and intra nets make this so easy nowadays.) But equally, I fear that some organisations might then over-proceduralise this and squash the creativity so maybe a centralised list is not the answer (what do you think?)

So yes, this blog is outside government structures, yes it is accessible, yes it is slightly chaotic (although you can search on it very easily) and yes it is an copyright liberal zone!

Please keep the small creative ideas coming! Thanks

20 May 2009

Systems and People - why culture change is free

John Seddon explains why targets make organisations worse and controlling costs makes costs higher. This elegant dissection of the organisational madness that pervades our culture was given at the 2009 conference of the Human Givens Institute. Target Obsession Disorder laid bare...


A powerful, sometimes irreverent but always serious challenge to the whole command & control / target obsessed approach to public services management. 60 minutes - far more enlightening than two episodes of Eastenders!

Reduction in car allowances due to more efficient design of the visit process

A district council reports that savings were made by the merging of their Benefits and Council Tax departments so that essentially the same people were carrying out both duties and therefore performing both jobs within one car journey each.

Thanks for this example.

Online reviews of Museums in Hampshire

Hampshire Museums Service has just soft-launched an online service allowing museum visitors to write reviews on their visit in the style of Tripadvisor. 

Until now all comments and criticism, whether favourable or otherwise have been via a closed dialogue. The review service allows our users to feedback to us, but more importantly gives others the opportunity to see what has been said. 

In addition to a written review, the museum visit can be given a star-rating from 1-to-5.  The review will be published online within 48 hours. All comments are moderated before publication. When there have been a sufficient number of reviews, there will be an aggregated list, ranking museums in order of positive reviews. 

So what happens if a museum receives a negative review? Vexatious, non-family-friendly or abusive comments will be wittheld, however all justified negative comments will be posted. 

At the time of writing Milestones Museum in Basingstoke (http://www3.hants.gov.uk/milestones/review-milestones) is the only museum to have received any reviews. Reviews so far have been mainly positive, and we would expect that as we operate to high standards in all our services, that we ought not to receive too many negative reviews. If we do, then clearly this will focus attention on correcting any issues. All evidence from the private sector where this technology has been used indicates that performance improves as a result. 

Hampshire County Council will, I believe, be the first local authority in the UK to offer our customers the opportunity to review our services and have their comments published. It fosters openness, trust and transparency and ensures that our customers feel they're being heard.

This will be rolled out to Hampshire's libraries, arts centres, country parks and other venues over the coming months.

Further information from Ian Edelman ian.edelman@hants.gov.uk

Thanks to Ian for this example.

19 May 2009

New Innovators Council formed

Innovators Council to champion ideas 

A prominent social entrepreneur, the boss of Citizen’s Advice and a permanent secretary are among the members of a newly-created council charged with leading innovation in the public sector....


More information here too:


Although we face the global downturn with public services in better shape than they have been, we should use this period to look again at how we can improve them.  With your help we can emerge from recession with a new generation of public services which are more effective and efficient for the taxpayer; better focused on the individual needs of the public; and which staff are confident and proud to deliver

Membership of the Council

Council members will be drawn from a range of backgrounds, organisations and responsibilities. A core of around 15 people will be chosen for their experience and appointed for a period of one year (three meetings). Additional members will be invited to join where focus on a particular issue requires specialist knowledge and experience. 

Members of the council confirmed so far are (in alphabetical order): 

  • Lord Victor Adebowale, Turning Point and the Sunningdale Institute
  • Philip Bartlett, programme director at JobCentre Plus
  • Alexis Cleveland, Director General of Corporate Services in the Cabinet Office who led the creation of the highly innovative DWP Solutions Centre
  • Matthew Coats, head of immigration at the UK Borders Agency
  • David Harker, CEO of Citizens Advice
  • Charlotte Hogg, Managing Director of Experian UK & Ireland
  • Peter Housden, permanent secretary of Communities & Local Government and former member of the Delivery Council.
  • Cathy Garner, CEO of Manchester Knowledge Capital
  • Dr Lynne Maher, Head of Innovation Practice at the NHS Institute for Innovation and Improvement.
  • Dai Powell, Chief Executive of the HCT Group
  • Sally Russell, co-founder of the hugely successful and highly acclaimed website Netmums
  • Philip Rycroft, Director General of the Business and Innovation group at DIUS
  • Toby Salt, Deputy Chief Executive and Strategic Director at the National College for School Leadership
  • Rob Whiteman, CEO of Barking & Dagenham Council

About Public Experience

Worth a visit!

In short we are here to get feedback on government services. The PublicExperience project is currently in a pilot stage. We are funded by the Ministry of Justice through their Innovation Fund and hosted by mySociety.

The objective of our project is to utilise the web to give everyone the opportunity to say what they think about the UK's government services in an open accessible forum. Experiencing poor service and the frustration of getting nowhere has been a driving force behind the project.

17 May 2009

Revised method of operation for family group conference

Revised method of operation for family group conferences - £35k saving

In the context of wider budget pressures across the Children’s Services Department, the Family Group Conference service reviewed the way in which it operated to make more effective use of the limited resources which were available.

One way in which this was achieved was to introduce a policy of accepting referrals from other services only where adequate preparation had been undertaken with the family before hand.  This ensured that there was greater willingness to engage in the conference process by all those involved, freeing up time previously spent by co-ordinators to facilitate this early work. This was achieved through improved planning and referral processes being implemented, and the service working more closely with those making referrals to them to ensure that they understood the new referral policy.

In 2007/08 the number of referrals made to the service reduced by 30% from the number received during 2006/07.  In addition the percentage of accepted referrals which resulted in an initial conference being convened also increased by 9%, indicating that the quality of the referrals being made to the service had improved.

As a result the service was able to convene a greater number of initial conferences, first and second reviews within the available resource then would have been previously been achievable, leading to a reduction in the unit cost of the service.

Many thanks to Hampshire County Council for this example

Birmingham City Council’s in-house change management consultancy


The demands on councils, both in terms of the efficiency drive and changing nature of local government, means specialist transformational skills are essential. Birmingham City Council is managing change by developing an in-house consultancy service. This is supporting staff to find and train for new positions where roles become obsolete.

Key learnings for other councils

  • Communication is essential – use all appropriate means to explain to staff what is happening.
  • Support departments that are losing valuable members of staff to the change programme.
  • Challenge traditional practice – ambition and imagination are essential.
  • Make your in-house services accessible – internal web pages and dedicated project officers are important 

There is more about this great initiative at: 


Further information

Thanks to Glen for agreeing for me to post these details. And thanks to the IDeA for the words above - and continuing to provide a very useful source of useful innovations in local government

Environment friendly cleaning - procurement


Procurement of environmentally friendly cleaning products to our contractors. The standard of cleanliness has improved using greener products, as opposed to using "old-style" polluting chemical cleaning material.

Description of Achievement.

We sourced and procured environmentally friendly, natural cleaning products for use by our contractor in the toilet cleansing contract. In so doing, this has reduced the number of different types of chemical cleaner previously being used to now just using a single natural cleaning solution. This is also a cost saving for the authority.

How has the achievement improved service delivery or the quality of life for local communities?

By using environmentally friendly products it has improved the wellbeing end environment for West Devon residents and visitors. 

Did you work with any partner organisations to deliver the project? What was their role & why did you work with them?

New supplier of environmental cleaning materials, also liaison with our toilet cleaning contractors who provided valuable feed-back on ease of use and effectiveness. 

How was the project funded?

As per contract. 

Why was the project required? If applicable, how does it relate to the council"s priorities?

Fits in with Green Council principles and with corporate priorities of community wellbeing and environment.

Describe any barriers to the project & how you overcome them.

Sourcing suitable environmentaly friendly cleaning products appropriate to the many different types of surfaces/finishes across our 15 public toilet sites. By careful research, we have sourced a cleaning product which effectively cleans a comprehensive range of different surfaces. 

What has been learnt from the achievement that can be used in other areas of work?

Alternative environmentally friendly products are as effective as more pollutive products.

Thanks to West Devon Borough Council for this example

12 May 2009

Recycling for rural properties

Non-cashable savings were achieved through recycling for rural properties using existing trade rounds.

The Council has incorporated collection from these sites within our existing rounds, thereby increasing the recycling rates.  This represents a non-cashable saving as we are effectively increasing service provision within existing resources.

Thanks to Mansfield District Council for this example

Concessionary Fares Partnership

The District and Borough Councils within Nottinghamshire have formed Concessionary Fares Partnership

Nottinghamshire County Council and the 6 district within Nottinghamshire provide the Concessionary travel scheme in partnership to provide a county wide scheme. The responsibility for Concessionary Travel lies at District level; however the overall scheme is administered by the County Council which negotiates on behalf of the districts with bus operators. This arrangement allows a standard scheme to be operated with additional discretionary enhancements to those required by the National Scheme introduced in 2008.

Thanks to Mansfield District Council for this example

Here's an idea: don't offer prizes for suggestions - Simon Caulkin

As if my magic - this article has popped into my view - following the one referenced below. Again very much worth a read:

"Sigh. Another grand efficiency wheeze that should have been strangled at birth. At first sight, getting worked up about Lord Darzi's NHS suggestion scheme - under which £20m in prize money is on offer to staff coming up with the best ideas for saving money over the next four years - might seem over the top. The cash sum is trivial: the NHS needs to cut costs by £2.3bn in the next year alone. And if someone does walk off with £5m for an idea that saves many times that, isn't that a reasonable deal? Well, no...."


11 May 2009

Big Results from Small Ideas - the Lean Library

Great article - worth a read:

Some excerpts:

"EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: Sure, everyone wants to hit one out of the park with a solution that is so elegant, so profound that it stuns by virtue of its brilliance. But really, how often does that happen? And when it does, how long before the competitor picks up on it? Often, there are more benefits by gathering and implementing small ideas."

"One of the most surprising findings of the Ideas Are Free study was how high-performing companies focused on small ideas while low-performing companies tended to go after big ones"

"Milliken competes by out-managing its overseas rivals. The company's "Opportunity for Improvement" system brings in some 7,000 ideas from workers every day. Because most ideas are small, they're difficult or even impossible for competitors to copy. They amass into superior performance that Milliken has sustained for several decades"

"And it is workers, not managers, who most often spot the little things that add up to big success"

09 May 2009

WorkSmart: managing change in Westminster City Council

Further details of this innovative approach can be found at:


"Managing change is never easy, but Westminster City Council is going from strength to strength after introducing a programme engaging staff throughout the workforce. WorkSmart has seen more than 50 individual projects delivered. These improve the customer experience and generate cash savings as the council gears up for the 2012 Olympics"

"What was done? Westminster wanted to develop a programme that would both engage the workforce and put customer experience at the heart of its approach. Previous top-down change programmes had failed to capture the imagination of the 2,800-strong workforce. The WorkSmart programme was designed to engage staff throughout the council. Indeed, many of the projects have come from ideas put forward by employees.

WorkSmart was launched in 2006 with an Ideas Day, when hundreds of staff gathered at a one-day conference to re-think the way the council approached services. In total, 20 of the 50-plus projects came from that original event. They included the now famous cashless parking system, which has replaced the iconic parking meter with mobile phones and credit card technology." 

Further information download:


and another very useful download: http://www.londoncouncils.gov.uk/London%20Councils/Capital%20Ambition/WestminsterWorkSmartSummar.pdf

Very much worth a browse, I think. Thanks for LB Westminster for letting me know about this. 

08 May 2009

Some bite sized initiatives from Hertsmere Borough Council:

  • On our two emergency staircases we replaced light fittings wit low energy passive infrared resources (PIR) operated lights as these areas are used infrequently
  • Exterior lamppost lighting replaced with low energy fittings and photo cell switching
  • Within our Council Members area, smart lighting fitted, using both PIR and Photo Cell operated, as these areas are used infrequently during the day
  • Exterior bollard lighting replaced with new low energy units
  • Direct gas fired water heater installed to facilitate turning off the main boilers in the summer period
  • New small building management system (BMS) fitted to council chamber air conditioning system to stabilise temperature and reduce energy use
  • Delivered talks on home energy conservation to schools and a range of organisations in the borough
  • Distributed leaflets and DVDs on home energy conservation

Many thanks for these ideas

07 May 2009

Hazel Blears: Local people key to unlocking greater savings


"Councils must listen to the views of local people to work smarter and make greater efficiency savings, Communities Secretary Hazel Blears said today. In the Budget, the Chancellor confirmed that councils will need to make £600m efficiency savings a year - to be used to reinvest in local services or cut council tax bills. This is alongside the £5bn worth of efficiency savings to be made across the public sector over the next year alone." 

I could not agree more - how many services are delivered to the public inefficiently because incorrect or out of date assumptions are made about what the service users need or want? I heard about a story once that Manchester Probation Services needed to be reorganised and the executive team proposed centralising all the offices. The probation officers said that their clients would find that really difficult and would increase the 'no shows' to appointments. So the executive team surveyed the clients. The results were that the clients preferred the idea of a central office because "I come in once a week anyway - it would be easier" or "the buses & trams go into the centre - going round the outside is much more difficult". The services were centralised as a consequence, I believe. 

So for me the question is - how do we challenge our assumptions about what the users / citizens / communities need, want and expect? I guess as Hazel Blears says "Involving communities are key to unlocking greater savings - when it comes to finding efficiencies, empowering local people is part of the solution, not part of the problem" I would go along with that! 

See http://www.peopleandparticipation.net/display/Methods/Home for a rich resource of methods to engage and involve the public.

New freedoms for councils under consultation launched today (6 May)


Councils could have more freedom in financial decisions to spend or trade, and to coordinate local issues such as local transport their way, in a new consultation launched today.

In a move set to devolve even more power to local authorities and cut down on bureaucracy, the public will be invited to have their say on whether or not their council should have more financial and statutory freedom to deliver the most pressing needs of their community.

The consultation closes on 28 July and can be found at www.communities.gov.uk/corporate/publications/consultations

See my link below to income generation: http://smallcreativeideas.blogspot.com/2009/04/thinking-about-income-generation.html

06 May 2009

From lunch to activity

LB Wandsworth have saved some money by switching their focus from luncheon clubs to active days which were found to be attractive and suitable to older Borough Relatives. 

Further information: 

Thanks to the council for this information

Wandsworth suggestion scheme

The Council operates a staff suggestion scheme for service improvements and applies to all staff employed by the Council. 

Suggestions eligible for consideration are those which could lead to either an increase in productivity; an improvement in efficiency; other worthwhile economies; or an improvement in the Council’s relations with the public. Suggestions are not eligible where they are within the scope of an employee’s duties and responsibilities or they concern matters of Council policy or committee or departmental functions. Each suggestion accepted can receive an award of up to £250 or where it is judged to be the result of considerable enterprise and effort can be up to £25.

In the last two years there have been 83 staff suggestions made and a total of £935 awarded. A few of the successful suggestions related to:

  • Improved information in the Council’s Weekly Roads Bulletin,
  • Improved body guard alarms,
  • Card payment facility,
  • Powerpoint presentations: Access by blind persons, and
  • Telephone calls by Council staff:  Automatic ‘1471’ message to recipient (where appropriate) instead of them getting “the caller withheld their number”
Thanks to LB Wandsworth for this information. 

05 May 2009

The harm caused by witnessing rudeness

Great piece of research reported on the British Psychological Website: 

"Seeing one person be rude to another can stunt a person's creativity, impair their mental performance and make them less likely to be civil themselves. Christine Porath and Amir Erez, who made this finding, say it has profound implications for the workplace, where rudeness has been described by some as a modern epidemic...." 


Good book to read as well:

"The managers book of decencies - how small gestures build great companies" by Steve Harrison. (http://tinyurl.com/cu879d)

Southend: Inspiring Culture Change

Southend-on-Sea Borough Council entered the PPMA Awards 2008: Innovations Award with their strategy around corporate culture: 

"Where we were - Inspectors defined our organisation as ‘poor’, with a 'high risk' status and a disappointing first staff survey in 2005 . A very low response rate (34%) was matched by generally poor feedback.

  • Poor perceptions of senior management and their 'visibility';
  • Limited understanding of our corporate aims;
  • Communications felt to be ineffective;
  • Employees felt undervalued and unrecognised;
  • Perceptions of change management were poor. 

In 2005 a new Chief Executive arrived, who with the Leader of the Council provided the leadership commitment to developing a new vision of the organisation. Alongside organisational restructuring it was recognised that the transformational change required would only be achieved by supporting a significant shift in organisational culture. 

An Organisational Development (OD) Team was created to maximise the contributions of our people in achieving success for the organisation. The OD team was supported by secondee's from operational, strategic and HR functions. 

The beginning of our journey - 180 of our staff attended Cultural Participative Inquiry workshops during 2006. They highlighted some uncomfortable truths plus many inspiring aspirations. There was an understandable degree of cynicism from some staff, anticipating the Inspiring programme would follow the pattern of previous 'change programmes', that hadn't addressed culture. Expectations were, that senior management commitment would soon be lacking, the programme would 'fade away', or having completed some structural change, stop at that 'stalling point'." 

Now several years later: 

"Inspiring other authorities - Having exhibited at the East of England Regional Assembly Innovations Day, the Inspiring OD Programme was recognised with an award. Attendees voted

it the "Innovation most likely to be taken back to their authority". "I was delighted to see the innovative and exciting outcomes that Southend are really delivering, with the funding allocated by B.C.E. " said Brian Stewart - Chief Executive East of England Regional Assembly. 

Transformation - We believe our transformational cultural shift has begun. Significant improvements occurred in our 2007 staff survey . 43 of our indicators moving significantly forward from 2005. Our response rate reached 56%, well above the local authority average of 41%. Communicating our vision and aims more clearly to staff achieved a massive 117% increase from our 2005 result. We were delighted to have our third star given to us in March this year.  

Our journey continues… Our transformational journey is very well underway, our vision, aims and values have been clarified and authenticated by our staff. We believe our new culture will be critical to transforming our services."

Thanks for this example.

Further information http://minutes.southend.gov.uk/akssouthend/images/att10791.doc

(Words above extracted from a submission for the award sent to me)

Support Services - at Southend

Here are a few more ideas from Southend-on-Sea Borough Council

1. E-learning page on our intranet - reducing email traffic & hard copies, 'one stop virtual shop' for training & development

2. Equipment Service Virtual catalogue - saved a lot of money on paper copies, won an innovation award from the PCT for this 

3. Tactile Rubbish sacks for visually impaired - Waste Management Team

4. DHS Sickness/employee support - innovative support to reduce employee absence

Thanks for these examples

Revenues and Benefits

“The Council is committed to making sure that all small businesses receive all the help that they are entitled to. We identified that there were a number of businesses that were not claiming Small Business Rate relief earlier in the year and decided to take positive steps to correct this.

As a result, we ran an intensive campaign in January to promote take up of the Small Business Rate Relief (SBRR)which proved to be  very successful. We awarded over £400,000 of relief to small businesses in the Borough, in some cases backdating the award to April 2007. We were also able to refund over £300,000 to small business that had paid in full not knowing that they were entitled to the relief.

In some cases the rates bill can be reduced by 50% when they are awarded SBRR.”

Thanks to Southend-on-Sea Borough Council for this example