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Ambitious plans to transform Essex County Council outlined

7 December 2012

Plans to radically change the way Essex County Council is run and delivers its services in the future have been outlined today (Friday).

Today’s Cabinet meeting backed the ambitious proposal which is designed to save the authority approximately £200 million a year by 2017 and place it at the forefront of local government and public service innovation.

The plan, which will be worked up between now and June 2013, will help the Council with a three-year programme during which it will push forward its aim of becoming a commissioning-led authority – specifically around its children’s, adults and community services.

This will mean the Council will seek to work more in partnership with other organisations to deliver services rather than delivering them itself, allowing the services to be more flexible and to better meet the needs of the people using them.

It will also help provide long term stability to the services being provided, enable the Council to become more commercially minded and to deliver efficiency savings in a way that can best protect and safeguard funds for frontline services.

As a result of the proposed changes the roles and accountabilities of the authority’s Corporate Leadership Team will also be changed. This could include, for example, merging the roles of Director of Children’s Services and Director of Adult Social Care to help strengthen and enhance the Council’s social care work.

The plans outlined today will build upon the strong foundations laid down by the first phase of Council’s moves to reshape the way it works. This is currently on course to make over £360 million in savings and efficiencies by March 2013.

The Council’s Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Finance and Transformation, Cllr David Finch, said: “We are in a good position to weather the current squeeze on public funding but it is vital that we continually look at how we deliver and run our services in the face of even greater financial restrictions in the future.

“This means that we have to step up to the plate and make some bold and radical decisions. However, while we need to make savings we are committed to ensuring that our residents are at the heart of every decision we take.

“We still need to fully work through the details, but the plans we have outlined today show the innovative approach we are seeking to take to protect, maintain and develop our services for those who most need them.”

Over the last few years the Council has;

  • become the first local authority to commission a Social Impact Bond in children’s services to improve outcomes for young people at risk of going into care.
  • delivered over £160 million in procurement savings through renegotiating contracts.
  • formed a new partnership with Ringway Jacobs Limited to create the largest integrated highways partnerships in the UK. Over the next 10 years this will deliver significant savings whilst ensuring the available funding is used more effectively
  • reduced the number of buildings used to house Council offices.