City council senior management team restructure

By on 19/09/2013 in Leader, News

Sir Albert Bore, leader of Birmingham City Council, has today launched a consultation on the restructure of the council’s senior management team.

Councillor Bore said: “There are three factors, some more important than others, that lead us to this position today. In brief: the first is the severe financial pressure that the city council is under; the second is the need to establish permanent arrangements for our children's services; and the third is that Stephen Hughes, the current chief executive, will be retiring at age 60 at the end of February next year (2014).

Cllr Sir Albert Bore

Cllr Sir Albert Bore

“Of these, the most urgent issue facing the council is the need to establish permanent management arrangements for our children's services, following the departure of the previous director: The service delivery is currently inadequate and strong leadership is needed, as we all know, to restore practice standards and assure partners (e.g. NHS, police), inspectors (Ofsted), and the Government (DfE) that this situation will be turned around.

“A strong, focussed service leadership is also required to win the loyalty and respect from staff and give confidence to the political leadership. We believe we have in Peter Hay, who has been asked to manage the service in the interim, such a person.

“Our proposal therefore, is to assimilate Peter Hay to this role alongside his current role as Strategic Director of Adults and Communities. Subject to consultation, this would be as director of a new 'People' Directorate, essentially a merger of the current Children Young People and Families and Adults and Communities Directorates.

“We could seek to appoint a new permanent Director of Children's Services, through an open recruitment process; or appoint an interim director from outside. However, there are a number of issues with each of these options.

“Currently, across the country, there are 43 interim directors of children's services. As the demand for these has grown, the number of quality candidates has diminished. So, though we have recruited on this basis before and it has previously been a way to stabilise a service in the interim, we no longer consider this a viable way forward.

“Also, the council's experience of recruiting externally to a permanent post was not only that it took a long time last time - two years - but that as an increasing number of councils are becoming inadequate, there is a diminishing number of credible, permanent directors to recruit from.

“Therefore, not withstanding the consultation exercise, it is clear that with Peter Hay we do have an officer who has all the requisite qualities to lead the service and provide assurance. In fact the last time Children's Social Care showed signs of externally accredited improvement was when he managed it.

“As we have suggested many times before, local government is undergoing fundamental changes to how its services are structured and delivered. The council's most senior managers are an expensive resource. Therefore, in times of austerity, it is absolutely right that we keep our senior management under review.

“This is against the backdrop of the city council needing to save £100m this year and a further (currently estimated) £450m by 2017/18.  We have already seen a reduction in non-schools, full time equivalent (FTE) numbers from around 21,000 in 2010 to around 14,000 by the end of 2013/14, across all grades. And further reductions are likely.

“Radical restructuring of the council as a whole, to meet the changing services it delivers, means less departments and less senior management. Combined with the departure of Stephen Hughes, this provides us with an opportunity to now change the shape of the council.

“Therefore, we intend create three directorates that align closely with our priorities. All of these are working titles, but as they stand at the moment they are: 'people' (looking after education needs, protecting young people, supporting people and families, housing allocation, tackling domestic violence, substance misuse and troubled families, helping disabled people and those with mental health or learning disabilities, public health and looking after older people all in one place), which I have already spoken about; 'place' delivering localisation and clean, green and safe neighbourhoods; and 'economy' bringing jobs to the city and helping local people access these jobs, in addition to the functions within the present Corporate Resources directorate. This is an almost evolutionary step from the existing structure and we consider it best to go straight to it rather than have an extended period of uncertainty and change over a period of time.

“The 'economy' directorate (combining Development and Culture and Corporate Resources) has a very large leadership role e.g. how to deliver policy priorities and a balanced budget, in addition to the management of services. There is also a need for a statutory 'Head of Paid Service'. Therefore, we are proposing that the management of this directorate be strengthened with a combined Lead Officer and Director of Economy 'working' role, which can support the strategic direction of the city. You may interpret this post as a Chief Executive. The proposal is also for a Deputy Lead Officer and for these two (officers) to have complementary skills.

“There are also some practical synergies arising from bringing directorates together. For example, there are significant advantages in bringing together the commissioning of services for vulnerable people (children and adults) and it will enable better transition of supported children to adulthood. Another example is Birmingham Property Services, which has a key role to play in supporting economic regeneration as well as managing the operational and commercial stock of the council. These functions will now be part of one directorate rather than two.

“Our view, but this is subject to consultation, is that because the Lead Officer role is new, it should be advertised externally. The consultation process now started will deal with this appointment and with the appointment of individuals to the Deputy Lead Officer and Director of Place roles. As I have already indicated, we propose that Peter Hay will be assimilated to the Director of People role, but this is also subject to consultation.

“The estimated financial saving from two strategic director posts (i.e. combining CYPF and A&C and Development and Culture and Corporate Resources) plus their support staff is in the region of £500,000.”

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