Response: Birmingham Independent Improvement Panel

By on 23/03/2015 in Improvement Panel, News

Leader and Chief Executive welcome Improvement Plan sign-off

Draft assessment of Birmingham City Council Improvement Plan

Birmingham City Council Leader, Sir Albert Bore, and Chief Executive, Mark Rogers, today welcomed the sign off by the Independent Improvement Panel of the city council’s ‘Organisational Improvement: Year One Action Plan‘.

They are also encouraged by the panel’s recognition of the council’s progress so far, with early action taken to agree changes to Human Resources, as well as increase capacity to support the ‘Future Council’ change programme. The panel also acknowledges the cross-party commitment to making and resourcing the necessary changes and reiterated Lord Kerslake’s recognition of the pride and passion felt for Birmingham by the city council, its partners and, most importantly, its citizens.

Sir Albert Bore said: “We have acted quickly to produce our action plan and get on the front foot in making changes. Since it was published three months ago, good progress has been made on all of the recommendations set out in the original [Kerslake] review. And, just as the panel notes this progress, so we are also mindful of the risks to the implementation of the plan they have drawn our attention to.

“I am pleased that both opposition leaders, Cllrs Robert Alden and Paul Tilsley, are engaged in supporting the action plan and they have agreed to form an improvement working group with me, the Deputy Leader, Ian Ward and the Chief Executive. In addition, we have set up monthly sessions for elected members across the whole council to involve them in charting the progress of the Improvement Action Plan.”

Mark Rogers said: “We have worked in a determined manner to deliver a detailed and comprehensive plan by the deadline. I’m grateful for the panel’s advice which has helped ensure today’s most welcome approval. I also appreciate the panel’s recognition of our commitment to move forward and change the way we do business both inside and outside the council. Our values-based approach to designing the ‘Future Council’ is setting us in good stead to effect the cultural change required of us.

“We do want to engage differently with our citizens; we do want to collaborate more effectively with our partners; and we do want to be more open and transparent – seeking to be the best we can, not only as a city council but, more importantly, as a city.”

Reflecting on the action plan, Mark added that a review of strategic leadership capacity has been initiated; changes to the functioning of human resources have already been made; there was commitment to a cultural change programme, with a strong emphasis on resetting the roles and behaviours of officers and members; there has been good initial communication and engagement with staff and partners in response to the review itself and they would also have a crucial role in helping to develop the ‘Future Council’ within the context of wider public sector reform across the city; and that an integrated approach to long-term planning is being developed to deliver both a future operating model and the financial savings required for 2020.

Sir Albert also highlighted a number of other areas where developments are already well underway:

  • the current consultation on the Community Governance Review, designed to address the future purpose and function of district committees;
  • the agreement, in principle, to work as a combined authority between Birmingham City Council and the four Black Country councils, with the ambition to include Solihull and Coventry and the Greater Birmingham and Solihull districts;
  • and the launch of the East Birmingham Prospectus for Growth which incorporates a new partnership approach to improving employment and skills in some of the most deprived areas of Birmingham.

Notes to editors:

  1. The Birmingham Independent Improvement Panel was appointed in January 2015 by Government in response to ‘The way forward: an independent review of governance and organisational capabilities of Birmingham City Council’ published by Sir Bob Kerslake in December 2014. (link/attached)
  2. The ‘Organisational Improvement – Year One Action Plan’ is link/attached.
  3. The Community Governance Review relates to Recommendation 7:
    BCC should establish a new model for devolution:
    [District Committees] …should be refocused on shaping and leading their local areas through influence, representation and independent challenge of all public services…
    Councillors should concentrate on regular, direct engagement with the people and organisations in their wards and roles as community leaders.
  4. The combined authority  relates to Recommendation 10:
    A combined authority governance review based on an authority formed of at least in the initial stage the core functional economic area of Birmingham, Dudley, Sandwell, Walsall, Wolverhampton and Solihull should be completed by July 2015.
  5. East Birmingham Prospectus for Growth launched relates to Recommendation 11:
    [the Government] should support the creation of a new locally-led high-powered partnership vehicle focussed on increasing employment and improving skills, starting in the most deprived parts of Birmingham.

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