Agenda item

An introduction to the Public Services Reform department

This item presents an overview of the new Public Services Reform department. At the meeting, senior officers from the department will present their areas of work and the key priorities for the service in 2018/19 to help inform the Committee’s work programme.


Lisa Redfern, Director for Social Care and Acting Director of Public Services Reform, addressed the Committee and gave an introduction to the newly formed Public Services Reform department. She informed the Committee that the department brought together the Council’s commissioning, transformation, commercial, strategy and change management capability with the public health service offer. At the heart of this reorganisation was a commitment to whole system reform which will equip the Council to fundamentally rethink how it serves and supports residents.


The department brought together strategic commissioners, who oversee the procurement of social care services for adults and children and family support services, along with the commissioning of public health services. It also incorporates the Policy & Strategy team, which oversees the development of corporate policy and the co-ordination of strategic initiatives, the Business Intelligence team, which provides insight and analytics, the Community Investment team, which oversees the allocation of the third sector grants fund, and the Commercial Management team, which oversees corporate procurement and contract management.


Lisa Redfern then presented Public Service Reform’s service mission:


“We will drive and deliver system reform, disrupt the status quo and stimulate a creative renaissance in local approaches to public service. We will passionately focus on our collective potential to excel - through reform, commercial enterprise and system innovations - to benefit all those who we serve and support, and achieve public value.”


Lisa Redfern invited senior officers in the department to give an overview of their service areas and the key priorities and challenges for 2018-19.


Commercial Management – Simon Davis


Service areas covered:

·         Delivery Hub

·         Commercial Services

·         Asset Management

·         Commercial Programme

·         Corporate Cost Reduction


Simon Davis, Assistant Director for Contracts and Procurement, explained that his service area covered how the Council operated commercially and how it engaged with the markets. The Council had a contracts portfolio of around £250m and it was vital that it was being managed well – both to ensure that the Council was getting value for money and that the services delivered for residents. He noted that one of his key roles was to look at how the Council could improve its contract management. With such a large portfolio, there were opportunities for efficiencies. The service had a savings target of £1.5m from contracts in the first year and further savings in ongoing years.The two biggest contracts under the service’s remit were the Facilities Management contract with Amey and the Waste Management contact with Serco.


Councillor Christabel Cooper asked if Simon’s team worked closely with the Business Intelligence (BI) team on performance data and management information. Simon Davies replied that data quality for some of the contracts was not up to scratch. Going forward the team were looking to use BI more effectively – particularly for contracts that required regular monitoring of large amounts of data.


Sarah Thomas, Assistant Director – Public Services Reform, added that officers had used Moving On (the Council’s disaggregation from the shared service arrangements with Westminster and Kensington & Chelsea) as an opportunity to look at the way services interacted. BI wasn’t being used to its full potential but now officers were bringing it into commissioning from the start of the process.


The Chair, Councillor Sharon Holder, asked what the key challenges were in Commercial Services. Simon Davis highlighted the following two areas:

·         Renegotiation of the Facilities Management contract due to poor performance.

·         A lack of improvement or development of the Waste Management contract – there were a number of recurring complaints (e.g. missed collections) that should have been picked up and resolved.


Councillor Guy Vincent asked what the budget and staffing numbers were for the department. Officers noted that there were currently just under 150 staff working in PSR and the staffing budget was around £5.6m – though there was a significant vacancy factor and if all posts were filled the staffing budget would be £7m. The department was responsible for 450 contracts, varying from relatively small to the large Waste Management and Facilities Management contracts. The total value of those contracts was around £300m. Over the next four years, officers would need to find savings of around £60m.


Councillor Vincent asked if it was anticipated that PSR would provide ‘whole system reform’ as a service to other Councils to generate income. Lisa Redfern said it was, part of the service’s function was providing management consultancy to other authorities.


Councillor Vincent asked for an example of whole system reform in H&F. Sarah Thomas highlighted the Family Support Service, a Local Authority Trading Company (LATC) delivering services providing proactive, integrated and innovative preventative support to families most in need that went live on 1 April 2018. Family Support aimed to have a positive long-term impact on families’ futures, reduce demand for statutory care services over the next ten years, and operate as a financially sustainable organisation. The LATC structure enabled the organisation to be more flexible and efficient than a traditional Council service and it opened-up more innovative funding opportunities.


Adult Social Care – Home Care, Reablement and Advocacy – Jon Lillistone


Service areas covered:

·         Advocacy and IAG Befriending

·         Outreach, Reablement and Home Care Supported Accommodation

·         BCF/S75 Partnerships with Health


NOTE: Jon Lillistone was unable to attend the meeting so Mike Boyle and Simon Davis presented his service area


Mike Boyle noted that these areas involved working with the most vulnerable people in the borough. There were two key areas – the recommissioning of mental health provision and a new Home Care contract for 2020 and beyond. Regarding mental health provision – currently H&F had a disproportionately high number of mental health placements outside the borough. To resolve this, the Council would need to rethink its housing and employment offer. The recommission of the Home Care contract in 2020 presented a number of opportunities – giving people real choice and control and better minimum guarantees of quality.


Public Health - Anita Parkin


Service areas covered:

·         Strategic oversight of Public Health

·         Public Health partnership development


Anita Parkin, Director of Public Health, introduced herself to the Committee and gave an overview of the Public Health function. She noted that Public Health had been a shared service in the past but became sovereign from 1 April 2018. The key priorities for the service were interventions on obesity, mental health, substance misuse, and dementia – as well as joining up with departments across the Council to ensure they were considering health interventions in their work. Anita had only been in post for a few weeks but work had started on the vision and strategy for the service. The Chair, Councillor Sharon Holder, requested a list of the 10 most important Public Health issues.

ACTION: Anita Parkin


Children’s Services – Family Support, Digital, Place Shaping – Sarah Thomas


Service areas covered:

·         Family Support Service

·         Travel Care

·         School Meals and Meals on Wheels

·         Digital Efficiency

·         Place Shaping

·         Ed City & On Side


Sarah Thomas, Assistant Director – Public Services Reform, gave an overview of her main services areas:


The Family Support Service delivers universal and targeted services to children and families - from new-borns up to young adults with SEND to the age of 25. This encompassed Children’s Centres and all the services within – e.g. breastfeeding classes for new mothers, healthy eating advice for families, play groups and many more.


The SEN Travel Care service was responsible for getting children with special needs and disabilities to and from school and other educational opportunities. This service had seen huge improvements over the past few years but there were plans to develop it further. Next steps included travel assistance training and work to improve young people’s independence.


School Meals and Meals on Wheels Sarah Thomas noted that officers had started to look at food provision in the round – bringing together school meals, meals on wheels, food poverty, obesity, and H&F’s food banks. Economic development had been doing some work with Nourish. There were a number of opportunities presented by a more holistic approach to this area.


Digital Efficiency involved the use of automation and AI to allow staff to spend less time processing forms and data and more time with residents face-to-face. Automation has been used for a while in the Revenues and Benefits team where it had been working well. Going forward officers were keen to look at automation in a social care context. There were real opportunities there to free up social workers to spend more time with families and less time in front of their computers. Officers had identified the Merlin process as a possible trial area.


Place Shaping brought together community engagement, the resident commissions, the new ward panels, and using them effectively to start affecting the social change the community wanted.


Councillor Guy Vincent asked how independent the Family Support Service was (as it was an LATC), how the governance had been set up, and if it was accountable to the Council.Sarah Thomas explained that it was a separate legal entity that the Council commissioned to deliver services. The Council, at present, was the sole shareholder, and was committed to work closely with the service to help it thrive.


Councillor Vincent noted that officers had mentioned the Family Support Service moving to a Joint Venture in time – and asked what kind of partners were being considered? (Charities, businesses etc.). Sarah Thomas said the service would be procuring a strategic joint venture company and gave Barnardos and CLCH as examples of the types of organisations that could be involved. She also noted that there could be more than one partner.


Councillor Vincent asked if the Family Support Service had plans to sell its services to third parties at any stage. Sarah Thomas said she did expect them to deliver other services on behalf of other councils and health partners.


Councillor Christabel Cooper asked what the advantages of the Family Support Service being an arms-length vehicle were. Sarah Thomas replied that the external vehicle had allowed a number of related contracts to be rationalised. Previously quite separate services had been brought together resulting in better outcomes for families. In terms of contract monitoring, having a single provider meant monitoring one contract instead of 20 separate ones.


Assistive Technology, Commercial Development and Inspection Readiness – Sarah Bright


Service areas covered:

·         Assistive Technology

·         Mental Health Prevention

·         Health and Education Promotion

·         Inspection Readiness


Inspection Readiness related to the statutory inspections of Children’s Services, SEND, and Adult Social Care by both Ofsted and the CQC. PSR’s role was ensuring that self-evaluation frameworks were complete, improvement plans were in place, data and management information was up to date and informing management decisions etc.


Ethical Debt – PSR was developing a strategy around ethical debt management and officers were looking at a pilot on collecting parking debt.


Assistive Technology referred to technologies for older people’s homes to allow vulnerable people to stay in their homes. The technologies included GPS tags, sensors to detect falls, reminders to take medications etc.


VAWG and Domestic Abuse Strategy – Domestic abuse was the biggest single factor that led to children being put on the child protection register. To tackle this problem officers were working across a number of key Council departments including Children’s Services, Housing, and Commuting Safety.


The Chair, Councillor Sharon Holder, thanked officers for their presentations. She noted that the Committee would focus on service provision - outcomes and resident satisfaction were the key measures of success. She said she would like to encourage greater resident participation at these meetings and suggested resident action groups be invited regularly to allow them to present their ideas, feedback, and challenges.

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