The Birmingham Independent Improvement Panel today published a letter to the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, reporting on the progress the Council has made in implementing the recommendations of the Kerslake Report in the fifteen months since the report’s publication.
The Panel’s progress report says that whilst some good foundations for improvement have been laid and the pace of progress has picked up, the changes have not yet had the required impact, or become embedded.
Commenting on the Panel’s report to the Secretary of State John Crabtree said,
“Since the change in the Council’s leadership in December 2015 the new leader, Cllr Clancy, has acted on his early commitment to engage constructively with a wide range of partners across the city and to give the Chief Executive and the corporate leadership team the space to manage and see through the Council’s transformation agenda.
“But with the newly strengthened senior management team only in place since January 2016 there are still many crucial improvements that have not yet been achieved. The Panel cannot yet be confident about the sustainability of the Council’s progress.
“However, we believe that the political and managerial leadership of the Council should now be given the chance to work together and demonstrate the Council’s ability to deliver the change and improvement needed, without the current level of intervention. This is why the Panel is recommending to the Secretary of State that the Panel should stand back for a period, and return in the autumn to undertake a further review of progress.”
The Panel also draws attention to the risks faced by the Council in relation to its long term financial strategy, as part of which the Council has identified budget reductions of around £250m per annum to be achieved over four years. It draws particular attention to the difficulty the Council will face in 2017/18, where the savings proposed depend heavily on the success of integrating health and social care and on major changes to the pay and conditions of the workforce, which are likely to be controversial.
Note. Documents published today by Birmingham City Council which provide background to the Panel’s report can be accessed here; http://birminghamnewsroom.com/biip-documents/
For further information please contact Lucie Perrins PA to John Crabtree Mobile 07787 522003
BACKGROUND In December 2014 Lord Kerslake published The way forward: an independent review of the governance and organisational capabilities of Birmingham City Council. Sir Albert Bore, the then Leader of Birmingham City Council and the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government had asked Lord Kerslake to conduct the independent review.
Alongside the recommendations in the Kerslake report relating to action Birmingham City Council should take, Lord Kerslake recommended that the Secretary of State appoint an independent improvement Panel to work with the Council to provide robust challenge and support.
The Improvement Panel was set up in January 2015. Its members are John Crabtree OBE (chair), Frances Done CBE (vice chair), Cllr Keith Wakefield (former leader of Leeds City Council), and Steve Robinson (chief executive of Cheshire West and Chester Council). Sir Mike Tomlinson, as a children’s services commissioner for Birmingham, is an ex-officio member.
Andrew Christie, recently appointed by the DfE as children’s services commissioner for Birmingham, has also joined the Panel as an ex officio member.