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IT’S A BRAVE NEW POST COVID-19 WORLD

We are, once again, in unchartered waters for Local Authorities. The Chartered Institute of Management Accountants said that the 2008 financial crisis had been a ‘turning point’ on delivering council services and budgets, where ‘past ways’ were ‘swept away and explorations for new approaches started’. 2016 was the start of a completely new journey, and due to Covid-19, 2020 now sees unprecedented circumstances.

We can help guide you on that journey with our extensive experience of LAs and our range of services. As your Local Authorities Specialist Consultant, together we can make an uncertain future a real opportunity for positive change.

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IF THE CHANGES TO FUNDING ANNOUNCED BY THE GOVERNMENT REQUIRED FUNDAMENTAL CHANGES TO THE APPROACH OF LAs, COVID-19 REQUIRES A TOTALLY NEW RULE BOOK.

Even before Covid-19, some LAs had already suggested that they had reached their “tipping point” where they had insufficient resources available to meet their legal obligations. Councils were anticipating having to increase charging for services, dipping into reserves, and cut front-line services whilst wanting the government to go further on its commitment to financial devolution.

The 2020 State of Local Government Finance survey, which was of course published prior to Covid-19, stated that over half of councils (57%) plan to use their reserves this year; most of these councils (74%) also used their reserves last year, and that most councils (86%) said that exploring other sources of income aside from council tax and business rates is a high priority or essential. Confidence in the sustainability of local government finance remains very low, with three quarters (74%) of councils saying they do not feel confident, and 1 in 10 councils (12%) say they are in danger of being unable to fulfill statutory duties this year. Two thirds (66%) think that councils will become more reliant on income from commercial investments in the future, and 75% of councils said they were exploring local commercial developments, 71% are looking at local housing developments and 47% are considering investing in energy projects this year.

Perhaps most tellingly, there was near universal disappointment in the Government’s progress delivering a sustainable funding system for local government (97%) and a long-term social care strategy (98%).

WE HAVE SPOKEN TO MANY COUNCILS, AND WE KNOW THAT THEY ARE COBBLING TOGETHER THEIR FINANCES BY USING RESERVES AND INCREASING CHARGING.

We all thought that the government had shown a genuine and radical commitment to changing the way Britain is governed, but the path to devolution has been encumbered by decades of central government ducking crucial questions about how local government is financed. The system we had even before Covid-19, was one which no one would design. Central government and LAs both want a sustainable independent funding model, but it seems that devolution will continue to be a process rather than a revolution.

This is against the backdrop of a host of new pressures and desires; for example 98% of councils say they are planning work to tackle climate change, and in order to fund this work, a quarter are planning to attract external investment and 22% intend to borrow. Remote working has now become another critical priority, along with the issues such as security and staff wellness.

Having made significant strides to reduce waste, duplication and non-essential services over the past years, many councils aspire to become high performing outcomes led commissioning organisations. This is dependent upon adoption of a “whole system” approach where leadership, capability and culture are aligned to the new organisations requirements. We can work with you to achieve this whole system approach.

With our joint experience and passion for change, we can turn all of the current uncertainty into future potential. There really has never been a better time to develop and change.

HOW CAN OUR EXPERTISE HELP YOU?

INSURANCE OPERATIONS

INSURANCE WITH A DIFFERENCE

INCOME GENERATION

BECOME SELF SUFFICIENT

FINANCIAL MANAGEMENT

BRAVE NEW WORLD

BUSINESS RATE CHANGES

CHANGE YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH LOCAL BUSINESS

LEADERSHIP/WORK ENVIRONMENT

CULTURAL REVOLUTION

WELLNESS AT WORK

MAKE YOUR BUSINESS SUCCESSFUL

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INSURANCE OPERATIONS

INSURANCE WITH A DIFFERENCE

With our specialist knowledge in all areas of insurance and specific issues affecting LAs including knowledge of historical systems including LACHS and CONFIRM, we can:

  • Reduce your claims costs
  • Achieve considerable savings in streamlining processes
  • Improve customer satisfaction

We can achieve this by providing consulting services on long and short term projects to address inconsistencies in case handling and improve systems:

  • Reviewing end to end processes for claims, ensuring they are efficient and streamlined.
  • Ensuring that you give excellent customer service delivery at all times as part of strategic planning.
  • Create or review your claims strategy, reserving philosophy and authority levels.
  • Provide input to support development of business road map and annual budgets.
  • Claims audits to ensure proper handling/management of claims, coverage issues and recoveries being pursued
  • Strategic claims reviews covering processes/systems
  • Supplier management strategy
  • In-house-training
  • Investigating the potential for out-sourcing
  • Compliance reviews and development of internal audit procedures.
  • Delivering business change in claims handling and philosophy
  • Providing clear, timely and effective management information to senior managers
  • Shaping initiatives through idea generation and also developing proposals.
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INCOME GENERATION

BECOME SELF SUFFICIENT

Comparing current attitudes to those held by councils eight years ago, income generation had become a much more integral and acceptable part of financial planning.

From the insurance perspective, commercial trading is a viable consideration for many LAs as there is a gap in the market for specialist LA claims handling. There are some 450 local authorities in England and Wales, all of whom have claims made against them.

We can help you to investigate the potential for income generation by using the suite of insurance services we offer to prepare and improve your insurance operations to give you a market edge and create a centre of excellence. Then we will create a plan to identify potential partners and approach the for you market. We can help you every step of the way.

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FINANCIAL MANAGEMENT POST COVID-19

BRAVE NEW WORLD

The State of Local Government Finance Survey 2020 reported that 86% of councils were exploring other sources of income aside from council tax and business rates as high priority or essential. We know from personal experience that councils are anticipating they will undertake a significant rethink of their approach to financial management.

We can assist in this process by creating:

  • A stronger integration between strategic and operational financial management
  • Improved decision-making in partnerships and multi-agency working
  • Strengthened financial self-sufficiency

Local Authorities are less optimistic about their ability to respond to future cuts, and future years are seen as potentially very difficult. As a Local Authorities Specialist Consultant, we can help you to plan for the difficult years ahead to ensure that you are as prepared as you can be.

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BUSINESS RATE CHANGES

MANAGE RELATIONSHIPS WITH LOCAL BUSINESSES

77% of Local Authorities lack confidence in 100% Business Rate Retention as a mechanism to fund local government. However, two thirds (63%) still said that they would support it

Over half of UK business leaders feel their local government doesn’t understand their needs, while three-fifths do not consider that recent local government transformation has made life better for their firm. Less than two-fifths feel that their local government is committed to working in partnership with local business.

Businesses are important stakeholders for local governments – but the two do not always see eye to eye. What needs to be done is very clear to us: local governments should ensure that their finance functions are as strong as possible so they can collaborate with the private sector in a clear and functional way.

We can be your liaison with local businesses. We understand how they work and what they need from local government. As your trusted and respected partner, we can act as the middle-man to encourage dialogue and reach mutually acceptable agreements that will maximise your future potential income.

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LEADERSHIP & WORKING ENVIRONMENT: THE NEW NORMAL

CULTURAL REVOLUTION

Local Authority leaders need to lead a ‘cultural revolution’ to empower their workforce and drive the transformation of the public sector.

Evidence pre-Covid-19 suggested that 7% of public sector employees at middle manager level and below view the public sector as an empowering environment. It also found 47% of public sector workers think their leadership team lacks the management skills needed for a period of massive and accelerating change, and 36% want public sector leaders to invest in creating a more flexible and adaptive working environment.

Even before Covid-19, what was needed was a radical change in leadership style, organisational structure and culture across the sector. We can provide training and guidance to arm leaders with the skills they require to meet future demands and effectively manage the significant change and increasing expectation using tools and technology available to encourage collaboration and innovation in the following areas:

  • Leadership: public sector leaders should motivate everyone across the organisation to take accountability for delivery and improvement. They must give employees a voice and empower people to make decisions.
  • Working environment: leaders need to encourage barriers to be broken down and create teams that work together across agencies.
  • Rules: these should be light touch in order to avoid suffocating original thinking.

As the pace of change accelerates, not everyone has the necessary skills to manage and build on the shifts taking place. Public sector leaders need to be able to empower and inspire the wider workforce and take responsibility for building a culture that encourages employees to innovate and try new ways of working without fear of failure. As your Local Authorities Specialist Consultant, we can help you achieve this.

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WELLNESS AT WORK & WORKING REMOTELY

MAKE YOUR BUSINESS A SUCCESS

The importance of employee health and well-being has risen sharply up the public policy agenda over the past ten years or so, encouraging a broader and more sophisticated understanding of what the concept means in UK organisations. Historically, measures to safeguard the well-being of employees focused on the much narrower management of ‘health and safety’ and steps to reduce the risk of injury and ill-health associated with work.

Organisations which fail to implement health and wellbeing policies, despite being aware of their importance, are putting employee and business health at risk. They are also reducing their capacity for growth and success.

As we adjust to the new normal, it is inevitable that many people will work from home either on a temporary or a more permanent basis. This presents new challenges for every LA. There is a ‘wellbeing vacuum’ in UK workplaces, with fewer than one in ten organisations implementing a standalone wellbeing strategy that supports the wider business goals. Less that 40% of organisations regularly monitor the average cost of absence per employee per year, while wellbeing was taken into account in business decisions only to a little extent, or not at all, in 57 per cent of cases.

We believe that to put wellbeing firmly on the business agenda, we need to change conversations around the business case for wellbeing programs from ‘cost avoidance’ to ‘shared value creation’ and highlight what organisations stand to gain, rather than lose.

Workplace health and well-being has risen sharply up the public policy agenda over the past decade. This has been accompanied by growing recognition of the positive link between employee well-being and long-term organisational health. There also appears to be a much broader understanding and application of holistic health and well-being approaches on the part of many organisations. We welcome this progress but believe that there is still considerable scope for wider and more integrated implementation of employee well-being initiatives in the workplace.

The world of work is moving at an ever-faster pace, and pressing environmental factors such as the ageing population only increase the responsibility on employers to not only mitigate the workplace risks to, but optimise, people’s health and well-being.

We know that an effective employee well-being programme should be at the core of how an organisation fulfills its mission and carries out its operations and not consist of one-off initiatives. It is about changing the way business is done. As well as benefiting employees, an integrated approach to health and well-being can nurture heightened levels of employee engagement, and foster a workforce where people are committed to achieving organisational success.

To truly achieve a healthy workplace an employer needs to ensure that its culture, leadership and people management are the bedrock on which to build a fully integrated well-being approach. Using a bespoke program including all aspects of physical and emotional wellbeing techniques, we can work with you to achieve real savings in costs and increases in productivity.

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“Business success is holistic; you need to consider all the parts to ensure that the whole is all it can be. We will work with you to make your business the best it can be.”