Calderdale Council has finalised its financial position for the next three years. This will be considered by Cabinet on Monday 13 January as part of the budget process, and identifies the savings necessary to meet the latest spending reductions following the government settlement.
The financial summary also shows that Calderdale has achieved a huge proportion of the savings already required since 2010. We have done this by making every pound of taxpayers’ money count – setting three year budgets so we can plan carefully ahead and finding creative ways to increase efficiency, whilst protecting services for local people wherever possible.
And here is our promise for the years ahead: despite the cuts, we will strive to sustain and improve council services through innovative partnership working with Health, Police, local businesses and our local communities.
Since 2010, Calderdale’s budget has reduced by £56 million, with another fall of £16 million already factored in. Recent government announcements suggest a further £17 million reduction by 2017. By that time, the council will have a total of £90 million less to spend.
Efficiency is part of our ambition for Calderdale, as we know times are hard. To demonstrate our track record and commitment to efficiency, today we have launched our ‘50 ways we have saved’ document. This shows how we have made every pound count, with 50 practical examples of how our staff’s creativity has made a difference, including:
- Improved recycling and reduced landfill: Our work on recycling has placed Calderdale in the top 10 performers for recycling in England and Wales and the highest in Yorkshire (60.9%). This has meant a reduction in landfill leading to savings of £1m over three years.
- Use of new technology in adult social care: We have embraced new technology in adult social care, reducing demand, maintaining provision and through telecare saving £300,000 per year.
- Fostering campaign work: Through a sustained successful campaign to encourage foster carers to come forward we have seen 40 new carers, and the saving between the use of internal foster carers as opposed to external provision equates to £800,000.
Calderdale Council’s Leader, Cllr Tim Swift, said:
“The Council has been robust in adopting a three-year approach to budgeting. This has been vital in managing the enormous (and continuing) government cuts. But it’s not just a matter of weathering the storm. We must also plan for the future, helping our community to compete and grow in both prosperity and fairness.
“As part of our ‘Ambitions for Calderdale’ programme, we will continue to support economic development and protect jobs through our Economic Fighting Fund. But our ‘50 ways we have saved’ document, released today, also demonstrates our commitment to value for money by making the most of every pound we spend.
“By driving better value for money, we will continue to protect services for the most vulnerable whilst ensuring fairness across our communities.”
50 ways we have saved
Calderdale Council’s sensible savings – 50 ways over 3 years
Calderdale Council like all local authorities has been faced with making unprecedented savings over the past three years. Local government has taken a disproportionate share of savings compared to other public services, perhaps because of its track record in efficiency and creative responses to financial challenges over many years. This has not prevented further spending reductions, which independent research has demonstrated (Coping with Cuts: Local Government and Poorer Communities – Joseph Rowntree Foundation 2013) have hit Councils hardest in the North of England with a difference in spending power of an average of £69 per head between councils in the North and the South.
Just before Christmas 2012, the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) published a 50 Ways to Save report. Calderdale Council has now published the 50 Ways we have saved money over the past three years, setting a standard for efficient and effective services we believe Whitehall could learn from.
Calderdale Council’s ‘50 Ways We Have Saved’ outlines the positive steps we are taking to ensure value for money in all we do. The document demonstrates how the Council has responded in creative ways to financial challenges, whilst seeking to minimise as best we can the impact of the budget reductions on local people. And we will continue to strive to achieve savings, through redefining how we provide services, how we commission and procure supplies and services, and through entrepreneurial approaches to our local places. We will also continue to develop our pioneering approach to demand management – creating a Calderdale-wide approach to shaping demand and changing behaviour using the untapped resources of our communities.
Through our Ambition for Calderdale programme and our robust three-year budget setting we will continue to work to balance the need to deliver within our available resources with responding to the challenges and pressures faced by local people and families in Calderdale.
Councillor Tim Swift
Leader of the Council
50 ways we have saved money in Calderdale over 3 years
- Savings in support services – All councils rely on effective support services. Without efficient and effective HR, IT, finance and legal services we would be unable to meet our statutory obligations, ensure we recruit high quality staff, plan our budget and ensure effective and lawful use of public money. Since 2010, Calderdale Council has saved £3.5m through cross-cutting service reviews of these functions.
- Effective procurement and contract management – Calderdale Council has established a commercial procurement unit which has led work with services to renegotiate contracts. This has led to savings of £300,000 per year.
- Savings on utility costs – Despite cost pressures on utilities, Calderdale has renegotiated contracts and achieved a saving of £200,000 since 2010 on core utilities such as gas and electricity.
- Tackling benefit fraud – Calderdale Council has delivered year on year savings through its fraud service, taking swift action to save over £3.3m in Housing, Council Tax Benefit and national benefits since 2010, and through targeted use of verification processes saved an additional £636,000 in areas such as Single Person Discount and concessionary fares.
- Improved recycling and reduced landfill – Calderdale Council has focused on improving recycling and the efforts made have paid dividends. Recent figures released by Defra indicate it has the highest rate (60.6%) in Yorkshire and is in the top 10 performers in England and Wales. This has meant a reduction in landfill leading to savings of £1m over three years.
- Reduced senior management costs – Calderdale Council pre-empted the financial challenges for local authorities by reducing its senior management costs substantially in 2009. Since that time, further savings have been achieved through reviews across all directorates reducing chief officer costs by £534,000 per year since December 2010.
- Reduced spending on advertising and marketing – Calderdale Council has taken a creative approach to corporate communications, focusing its efforts on campaigns to support economic growth like our current campaign on local markets, or in delivering priorities such as adoption and fostering. This has included use of new forms of communication such as social media and has achieved an overall reduction of £300,000 per year. In fostering we ran a hugely popular campaign from January 2012 to December 2013 which saw 40 new foster parents, and the saving between the use of internal foster carers as opposed to external provision equates to £800,000.
- Reduced library service costs but maintained provision – Calderdale Council has reduced the costs of its library services by £550,000 per year since 2010, but has maintained services across Calderdale and its Home Delivery Service for vulnerable people.
- Cut printing costs – By centralising our print function, we have reduced costs of printing by £100,000 per year whilst maintaining high satisfaction rates from staff and quick response times.
- Children’s centres protecting services to families – Calderdale Council has kept its children’s centres open but has reduced its operating costs by £150,000 per year since 2010 through efficiencies, ensuring that important services to children and families can be sustained.
- Use demand management to reduce bulky waste costs – Calderdale Council has implemented targeted charging on bulky waste, which has also reduced demand with no increase in flytipping. The Council has achieved a saving of £150,000 since 2011 on this.
- Use of new technology in adult social care – Calderdale Council has embraced new forms of technology in adult social care, reducing demand whilst maintaining provision to vulnerable people. Use of telecare is one example which has achieved a saving of £300,000 per year since 2010.
- Developing excellent services and reducing subsidy – Calderdale’s Sport Services have challenging financial targets following the completion of two new sports centres in Brighouse and Sowerby Bridge. Despite this, the service has met its targets and grown its membership base from 3,700 in December 2010 to 9,523 in December 2013. It has seen a reduction in subsidy by £654,000 per year, and continued to grow its membership base through high quality customer service, harnessing the Olympic legacy, price freezes and effective marketing.
- Workforce development – The Council needs a talented and motivated workforce given that our staff are our greatest asset. However more effective co-ordination of training and development linked to skills and future challenges has saved the Council £150,000 per year with further savings currently being identified.
- Middle management reviews – Calderdale Council has undertaken a number of reviews of management across the Council in areas such as Revenues and Benefits, Cultural Services, and across whole directorates. In Children and Young People’s Services this has achieved savings of £300,000 per year.
- Neighbourhood and locality working – Calderdale Council has sustained neighbourhood working across its towns and villages, improving engagement with local people through key points of contact. This was a crucial part of the response to major incidents like the flooding in 2012, and has supported innovation through communities taking over local services. The Council has delivered £515,000 savings per year from council budgets despite reduced external grants.
- Towards sustainable travel – Calderdale Council has a travel plan and has incentivised travel by rail through its Metro card scheme. This has saved £24,000 to date, with further expansion and encouragement of travel through cycling and public transport to come.
- Enhanced reablement services to encourage independence within the community – Adult Social Care services have worked on shaping demand and supporting innovative new approaches with adults requiring social care. This has led to savings of £3m since 2010.
- Use of volunteers harnessing the potential of local people – Calderdale Council recognises the role of local people to support services that matter and contribute to the quality of life for local residents. Calderdale has a rich heritage and outstanding open spaces. The Council has secured external investment to enhance the role of volunteers in key services such as museums and countryside, which has developed active and resourceful communities contributing to savings of £100,000 per year.
- Moving to self-service from cash payments – Aside from the cash office in Halifax, Calderdale Council has now moved to self-service machines for cash payment in its neighbourhood offices as part of our Customer First review reducing costs by £155,000 per year.
- Effective negotiating skills on major contracts – Calderdale Council has taken a robust approach to contract negotiation. Through effective negotiation the Council saved over £2m on the contract for Cromwell Bottom.
- Telecommunication costs – Calderdale Council has enforced tight controls on use of phones and reduced core contract costs by £250,000 per year since 2010. It now pays less to talk.
- Efficiency in Registrars Services – Since 2010, Calderdale Council has reduced management, streamlined provision and reduced transaction costs in Registrars whilst maintaining high levels of customer satisfaction. This has led to savings of £29,000 per year.
- Supporting town centre regeneration – Calderdale has faced many challenges during the economic downturn, but the Council has worked hard with local businesses and developers to retain jobs in the borough and encourage resilience. The development of Broad Street Plaza in the most challenging period has led to the creation of jobs and business rates into Calderdale to support local services. This has contributed to an increase in business rates of £500,000 within the last 12 months above expected levels.
- Playgrounds inspection – Calderdale Council has reorganised its playgrounds inspection regime and routine, prioritising sites to either monthly or three monthly Inspections, using an easily accessible support system and improved working practices. The Council has achieved a saving of £130,000 per year.
- Better use of our estate – Calderdale Council is reviewing the use of its property estate to establish how it might be used better in the future and disposing of any properties or land which are surplus to requirements. The money from the sale of any Council asset is reinvested in improving the properties which we intend to keep. This review has already achieved savings of more than £2m since it started in 2011.
- Protecting sensitive information – Calderdale Council has created a very secure method of electronically uploading safeguarding information to the head teachers of Calderdale schools and, in the process, achieved a saving of £53,000 per year.
28. A firm grip on costs – Calderdale Council has moved from cheque payments to bank transfers for all housing landlords we pay as part of the benefits system and has achieved a saving of £100,000 per year.
29. Smarter payment – Calderdale Council encourages local residents to switch their Council Tax from cash payment to direct debit and, in doing so, has achieved savings of £15,000 per year. The Council is planning a further campaign in the New Year to encourage further use of direct debit, which makes payment easier.
30. Improving our health – Calderdale Council’s Fitness Team actively promoted gym membership and adjusted the opening times which enabled Calderdale Council to achieve savings of £45,000 per year through increased usage and effective targeting of the service to when people most wanted to use it.
31. Support for foster carers – Calderdale Council has helped foster carers to take advantage of continuous professional development and has achieved savings of £36,000 per year through encouraging learning and peer support.
32. Finding good deals – Calderdale Council has introduced a process for secure transfer of data that would work on any of the Council’s websites and achieved savings of £146,000 per year.
33. Workforce planning – Calderdale Council now offers Voluntary Early Retirement to staff in the appropriate age range and has achieved savings of £2.2m so far, and reducing the need for compulsory redundancies.
34. Better use of resources and supporting independence – By restructuring the Independent Living Service and relocating a small satellite day service to a larger base, Calderdale Council was able to achieve savings of £225,000 per year.
35. Smarter working – Calderdale Council is improving its office accommodation in Halifax town centre to enable smarter, more flexible ways of working using new technology. This will save £300,000 per year, despite the need to repay initial costs through prudential borrowing.
36. Streamlining the library – Reorganising the service points in the Central Library and encouraging the use of the self-service facilities, Calderdale Council has achieved savings of £14,000 per year and protected core services.
37. Helping Calderdale schools – Calderdale Council’s Schools Team has been able to design customised tracker sheets enabling our schools to save £150,000 per year and achieving income for Calderdale Council of £105,000.
38. Using the web for planning – Planning decisions are now on the Calderdale Council website and by moving them to electronic access Calderdale Council has achieved savings of £20,000 per year. This also supports our agenda on open data and ensures transparency of decision making.
39. Insurance handling – Calderdale Council’s Insurance Team’s very robust approach to claims against the Council has achieved savings for Calderdale Council of £162,000 over the past three years.
40. Helping the homeless – By restructuring the services aimed at helping the homeless Calderdale Council was able to improve the customer experience and, at the same time, save £41,000 per year.
41. Relocation assistance – Helping people to relocate to more suitable housing rather than making adaptations to their current homes has helped Calderdale Council to achieve savings of £242,000 per year.
42. Empowering colleagues, listening to our staff – Calderdale Council believes in the people who work here and by empowering colleagues to make continuous improvements to frontline services through use of our lean process training and support, Calderdale Council has achieved savings of £40,000 per year.
43. E-enabling young people – Calderdale Council was able to provide computer and internet access for economically disadvantaged children and young people in Calderdale schools. The Council was able to do this by securing external funding of £100,000 rather than drawing on existing resources.
44. Virtual servers – Calderdale Council has a robust approach to technology and when the ICT servers were becoming too old they were replaced with virtual servers, saving hardware costs and storage space. Calderdale Council was able to make savings of £80,000 per year through effective use of new technology.
45. Coding empty homes – Recoding properties for Council Tax purposes improved the amount of New Homes Bonus and has allowed Calderdale Council to achieve savings of £1.7m.
46. Lean water – Calderdale Council is always looking for ways to make processes leaner. One of the ways that this has been achieved is to change the way the Yorkshire Water invoices are paid. This simple change to ‘one bill’ has helped Calderdale Council save £90,000 per year. The Council now receives one bill for other utilities such as electricity and gas.
47. Bespoke books – Calderdale Council took a bold step when reviewing its mobile library service and now provides a bespoke delivery service to housebound, elderly and frail residents who find it difficult to reach their local branch library. This review enabled Calderdale Council to make savings of £100,000 per year.
48. Customer service excellence – Part of how Calderdale Council can achieve this aim is to eliminate avoidable contact – get it right first time. Implementing the Reducing Avoidable Contact Project has enabled Calderdale Council to save £250,000 per year.
49. Safe housing – Calderdale Council has worked with local housing providers to ensure that customers with a learning disability in Supported Living have access to good quality housing, on an assured tenancy with fair rent levels. By working in partnership, Calderdale Council has achieved savings of £110,000 per year.
50. Efficient contact with our customers – Improving efficiency is very important to Calderdale Council. As part of the Access to Services programme the contract for the Customer Relationship Management system was renegotiated. Changing this contract helped Calderdale Council to achieve savings of £35,000 per year.