On the Horizon

National Reform

National reforms promise to make 2013 another challenging year.

The implementation of Government policy and legislation in a range of areas will exert a strong influence over the way the Council develops during the next year.

Welfare reforms designed to help households find work and become more self reliant are likely to see many more people needing extra help or support from social care or children’s services.

Health reforms coming into force from April 2013 will mean a period of upheaval. Clinical Commissioning Groups will need to be established and responsibility for Public Health will pass to the County Council. A new Care and Support Bill and social care funding reform is expected to support more preventative approaches and the new Health and Wellbeing Board will need to work hard to continue to join up NHS and Council services..

Changes to local government financing through the localisation of business rates and changes to European funding regimes all make it imperative that we continue to bring our influence to bear to boost the local economy. Making the most of opportunities such as the development of city/county deals to support local economic growth will be key.

The exploration of the potential of the Localism Act with the right for communities to bid for assets, to challenge and to take over the running of services will also feature large this year.

Increasing parental choice in schools, greater use of personal budgets and increased transparency will be some of the next steps to improve public services. And new ways of working such as community budgets and targeted support for families will aim to put people and resources exactly where they are needed.

Key Organisational Challenges

The local government landscape is changing and the future role of the County Council is uncertain. Our relationship with local people and communities is changing and we are likely to find ourselves divesting some old roles and identifying or given new roles.

What is certain is that we cannot continue to do the same things in the same way. We must challenge ourselves rigorously on the way we do business and be creative and imaginative in the way we meet local needs.

The key challenges over the next few years are likely to be:

  1. Reduced spending
  2. Managing demand
  3. Commissioning approach
  4. Involving people and communities
  5. Preparing staff
  6. Improving our systems

Future Landscape – Staff working groups

To help respond to the challenges facing us a large number of staff from across the organisation are meeting together in working groups to look in depth at each of the issues. All participants are encouraged to think differently and challenge the way we have always done things.

The early findings from these groups have been shared with Corporate Leadership Team, Heads of Service and senior managers and will be used to help inform and drive organisational change. As we move in to Phase 2 of Future Landscape, more staff from across the County Council will be involved, bringing their expertise, experiences and views to this valuable piece of work.

Looking forwards

While much has been achieved over the past year, challenges still remain for the County Council as the public sector landscape continues to shift. Further savings will be needed, and we are in no doubt that tough choices will once more have to be made if the people of Devon are to continue receiving the services and support they need.

The County Council elections in May 2013 will produce a new administration that will have its own view on the way forward.

It is clear that there are opportunities to re-assess the way we do things, to be creative and innovative in our thinking and to challenge from within.

One key change already underway is the process of becoming a more commissioning based organisation. The transfer of parts of the authority to the independent sector has begun, and this will continue as we look to achieve new ways of working that best deliver services.

We are also preparing to devolve greater control to communities, enabling local people to identify local priorities, plan the services they need and to manage those services directly, should they wish to do so.

These may be turbulent times for local government, but as the County Council changes over the coming year, reducing in size and being ever-more adaptable and fit for the future, there remains at the heart of our work a commitment to achieving the best possible outcomes which support the prosperity, health and well-being of the people of Devon.

Phil Norrey, Chief Executive