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Cymraeg

Full version - improvement objective D

Develop partnerships, skills and infrastructure in order to attract and grow a knowledge based economy creating jobs grounded in key sectors.

Why this is an improvement objective

Swansea has some fundamental economic issues that it needs to deal with. The council has a role in increasing social benefits from regeneration projects and setting the strategic planning framework to enable economic growth.

1.     Economy and labour market*: 

  • Swansea has significant economic potential but faces a number of critical challenges to its future economic growth. 
  • The analysis undertaken as part of the regional economic regeneration strategy identifies Swansea's key role within the city region, but illustrates that a number of structural weaknesses have to be overcome in order to drive new prosperity. 
  • Fundamental issues such as low productivity, high unemployment, economic inactivity, and deficiencies in skills are amongst the core concerns. 
  • Economic activity and employment rates in Swansea are below the equivalent Wales and UK figures. Unemployment rates (survey-based) in Swansea are above Wales and UK rates, although claimant rates are lower.
  • Other labour market statistics reinforce Swansea's role within the South West Wales sub-region and its position as a service sector-focused economy with a high proportion of public sector jobs.

*Swansea Local Service Board (2013) strategic needs assessment

2.     Competitive place making: 

  • The council recognises that it has to collaborate with its partners in the private sector, government, academia and third sector to overcome Swansea's challenges and to drive growth within the region. 
  • This includes working jointly on a variety of initiatives and projects including the ambition of creating a distinctive place with competitive infrastructure that supports investment in high value knowledge based sectors. 
  • The council's performance in its role as planning authority and also how it maximises employment and skills opportunities from large infrastructure projects are therefore central to the competitive place making challenge.


The council's contribution towards improvement

  • Maximising the impact of regeneration projects through offering and facilitating linked training and work placements is an important way in which the City and County of Swansea can prepare citizens for the challenges that lie ahead.
  • The City and County of Swansea is participating in two major schemes to help achieve this: Workways and Beyond Bricks and Mortar.
  • The Beyond Bricks and Mortar (BB&M) scheme helps local businesses become part of the regeneration programme through the use of clauses in contracts that will provide social benefits in the form of opportunities for the long term unemployed and economically inactive.
  • The Workways project involves Swansea working with three other local authorities within the region to engage with the economically inactive and long term unemployed and to help support them back into employment.
  • Workways will provide tailored support to those taking part assessing their needs and putting them in touch with appropriate employers (Nb - The Workways project as at 2013-14 is subject to review by the Welsh Government).
  • The economic wellbeing and regeneration of the City and County depends in part on the development of large projects, be they retail, housing or industrial.
  • This is both in terms of the economic benefits of the finished development if it's commercial, and the employment and trade generated by the construction process.
  • There needs to be a successful partnership of developer and local planning authority in bringing forward schemes to the planning approval stage that assist economic development.

  
D1. Increasing projects with social benefit clauses

Aim: To increase the numbers of projects that have social benefit clauses and Beyond Bricks and Mortar in their contracts.

Measure: (BBMA1) Increase in the number of projects with social benefit clauses and Beyond Bricks and Mortar in their contracts.

 Past performance Projection

2009-10

2010-11

2011-12

2012-13

2013-14

2014-15

2015-16

2016-17

-

9

12

17

16

18

19

20

Why this is important: 

  • The council would like to increase the number of its contracts with social benefit clauses in them through the Beyond Bricks and Mortar initiative. These clauses specify that the contractor needs to create opportunities for training, employment and work experience for the unemployed and economically inactive. This will improve the employment prospects and skills of people in Swansea.

 The story behind past performance and expected trends: 

  • Austerity measures assumed a slowdown in council spending, which resulted in a lower projection of contracts for this financial year.
  • Since placing social benefit clauses within specific regeneration contracts became council policy it has taken time to embed the initiative within the culture and practices of the council.
  • There are macro-economic influences, which the council has little control over that also dictates whether or not finance will be made available and projects will come to fruition.
  • Increased awareness of BB&M within the council's procurement and project teams has helped progress the aims of the BB&M initiative by ensuring that new projects are highlighted to the team. This should have a positive impact on economic growth.
  • In the absence of large regeneration projects, social benefit clauses have been put into smaller contracts, such as housing refurbishment schemes, which have maximised the opportunities available overall.
  •  Although this year's targets have been met, in future years there could be less contracts available for social benefit clauses due to public sector spending cuts and framework contracting structures. 

What works well now: 

  • Beyond Bricks and Mortar exists to ensure that money spent on public sector projects achieves social benefits for people and communities above and beyond the scope of what is actually being purchased.
  • The scheme is supported by the council's procurement team and departments that are letting suitable contracts, with whom Beyond Bricks and Mortar has built a relationship.
  • Beyond Bricks and Mortar has built up experience in calculating the social benefit clauses in contracts to get the most benefit for the community.
  • By working in partnership with training organisations and schemes that help the unemployed, Beyond Bricks and Mortar is able to fill the training places created with people who need the most help to get back to work. This year there have been 1500 weeks of training provided and 17 new people started training.
  • Beyond Bricks and Mortar has been able to put clauses into smaller contracts as well as the council's property development grant schemes, providing training and employment opportunities wherever possible.   

 What we are going to do: 

What?

Why?

Increase awareness and understanding of the aims of the Beyond Bricks and Mortar scheme and social benefit clauses.

So that any fears may be allayed, especially with project sponsors, in order to encourage participation in the scheme and ensure its success.

Staff reductions and changes to council structures means that further awareness raising of BB&M will be needed to ensure staff pass on details of new contracts.

Only by getting timely information from others can social benefit clauses be put into contracts.

Continue to place clauses into the council's contracts, creating new ways to gain opportunities from the smaller contracts.

To maximise opportunities from all contracts, in the absence of larger regeneration contracts.

Increase networks within the public, private and third sectors and with those that engage with beneficiaries.

Expanding the means of networking used by Beyond Bricks and Mortar, such as sharing information through the web portal 'Inform Swansea'.

To help ensure that the number of employment and training opportunities is increased and that there will be sufficient numbers of people who will be aware of them and ready to take them up.

Training programmes change often and it is important to keep in touch with new and changing initiatives so the correct information can be given to contractors.

Support more service based contracts within the Beyond Bricks and Mortar scheme.

To maximise opportunities in a wider range of the council's contracts.

Work with Cyfle, the shared apprenticeship scheme to widen the scope of the opportunities that we create.

So that short term contracts can play a bigger role in an individual's development through training, work experience and employment opportunities.

  
D2. People entering employment

Aim: To increase the numbers of people entering employment as a result of participation in the Workways project.

Measure: (WWC1) The number of people entering employment as a result of participation in the Workways project.

Past performance

Projection

2008-09

2009-10

2010-11

2011-12

2012-13

2013-14

2014-15

2015-16

2016-17

-

-

-

201

287

220 projected

300

375

400

Why this is important: 

  • The Workways project involves Swansea Council working with three other local authorities within the region to engage with the economically inactive and long term unemployed and to help support them back into employment.

The story behind past performance and expected trends: 

  • Workways provides a blend of support that is proven to help people into employment and stay employed.
  • The approach is one where the client's needs are recognised and placed at the forefront of an action plan aimed at making the return to the workplace much easier.
  • Since its inception, Workways within Swansea has undergone a number of structural changes before reaching its present size and range of activities. Chief of these has been the introduction of a team dedicated to finding job opportunities. 
  • For a number of reasons this has been smaller than what is required but the critical mass of the project is still set to increase.
  • 2013-14 saw a number of staff loses for various reasons. 
  • A delay in receiving a formal approval letter from the Welsh European Funding Office resulted in a delay in the recruitment process, which has in turn, impacted in the number of outputs achieved during the period. Caseload numbers had to remain manageable for those staff members still working on the project.
  • Ten new members of staff were recruited in December 2013/January 2014. Six additional vacancies were not filled at the time and recruitment will take place again in early 2014.
  • During 2013-14, the Genesis project closed and as part of the pilot project the remaining project participants and staff were due to join the Workways project. However, there were no staff and the number of participants was much lowered than anticipated. All of these factors again have contributed to lower than expected outputs.
  • The project has requested for an extension to the end of the project to September 2014. Due to the delay in this approval, the project has had to put on hold any further approval of funded placements (temporary job opportunities). A high percentage of these placements lead to jobs with the company so this has also had an impact on the output figures.

What works well now: 

  • Other schemes working with people refer their clients to Workways when it is felt that they are ready to consider employment.
  • Awareness of the activities of the Swansea team ensures a good supply of new project participants.
  • Refer participants and businesses onto other suitable support organisations within the county.
  • The project's capacity to remove barriers for those desiring to return to work and provide temporary job opportunities as part of an individual's preparation in returning to permanent employment provides individuals with confidence and demonstrates to the employer the right attitude and aptitude within a potentially future employee.
  • Due to the increase in staff numbers, additional outreach work has been able to take place. Job search classes are run in 5 locations on a weekly basis which provides support on how to job search, how to compile a CV and how to apply for jobs. In addition to this, bi-weekly sessions on interview techniques and mock interviews are run by project staff.

What we are going to do: 

What?

Why?

Continue to increase the size of the employment liaison team to that of the Workways mentoring team.

This will increase the project's presence within the business community, increase the number and range of job opportunities available to those returning to work, often for the first time in many years, and the number of jobs secured for project clients.

Work with the Welsh Government as part of a pilot project that will seek to streamline efforts.

To gain more referrals and clarity for businesses on how they can play their part in a wider effort to fight poverty.

Work closely with the Welsh European Funding Office and the Regional Learning Partnership to prepare and submit a bid for a new Employability and Skills project to run from 2014-20.Build on the success of the Workways project in Swansea to assist as many people as possible into work and as many businesses as possible with their recruitment needs

  
D3. Satisfaction with planning service

Aim: To increase the percentage of applicants and third parties satisfied or very satisfied with the planning application service.

Measure: Percentage of applicants and third parties satisfied or very satisfied with the planning application service.

Past performance

Projection

2008

2009

2010

2011

2012

2013

2014

2015

2016

88%

84%

87%

90%

93%

94%

94%

95%

95%

Why this is important: 

  • Improved satisfaction is an important measure of the quality of the planning service; a high quality planning service is important in giving developers and investors the confidence to invest in Swansea in order to develop key sectors of the local economy.

The story behind past performance and expected trends: 

  • The council is responsible for the processing and determination of applications for planning permission within the City and County.
  • It is an important responsibility which affects the environment, Swansea residents and developers.
  • It is one of the council's aims to provide this service in a timely and professional fashion; a good measure of this is the satisfaction levels of users of the service.
  • This measure is derived from a 100% post planning decision survey of applicants, agents and interested parties.
  • Over the last years the planning service has worked with its users to improve the service.
  • To this end, the contact with developers and interested parties has been improved, with the introduction of an improved user friendly web access interface and the introduction of a professional pre-application service being provided to developers and drop-in surgeries for householders.
  • A large amount of negotiation is, however, undertaken at a late stage i.e. during the formal planning application process, as the take up of the pre-application advice service is not universal.
  • It is anticipated that the in-hand ICT based business improvement measures will add speed to the current in-depth professional service, thus increasing satisfaction through frontloading the process and providing improved access to information and professional advice as early as possible. A pilot pre-application advice exercise has been undertaken to inform this process.
  • There has, however, been disruption in service levels and access due to staff resource issues and technical difficulties associated with the introduction of the new web access interface which has been reflected in the customer satisfaction surveys, however, as the current levels of satisfaction with the service are high, the scope for improvement is small; but the council needs to maintain this good performance.

What works well now: 

  • High levels of customer satisfaction demonstrate the professional level of competence of officers who negotiate with applicants and their agents.
  • High levels of customer satisfaction also reflects the level of good sound technical and administrative advice given by the administration and technical officers to developers and their agents when making and viewing applications.
  • The new web based interface allows better access to planning applications, information and procedures and has provided live access to the full planning application file, the ability to accurately track the status of an application and emerging issues. This has improved transparency, public, applicant and agent understanding and confidence in the process.

What we are going to do: 

What?

Why?

Introduce business process change to 'front load' the planning application process and provide an emphasis on pre-application advice.

To improve the quality of formal planning submissions and reduce conflict and delay during the formal planning application process to further improve applicant and third party satisfaction.

Increase the accessibility of the council's professional officers to developers, their agents and interested parties.

To maintain awareness, improve understanding, manage expectations and further improve customer satisfaction.

  
D4. Planning applications with an economic imperative

Aim: To increase the percentage of all major and minor applications with an economic imperative that are approved.

Measure: The percentage of all major and minor applications with an economic imperative that are approved.

Past performance

Projection

2008-09

2009-10

2010-11

2011-12

2012-13

2013-14

2014-15

2015-16

2016-17

-

-

-

-

86.8%

84.5%

87%

88%

89%

Why this is important: 

  • This measure reflects the success of negotiations between the authority and the developer in bringing forward schemes to the planning approval stage that assist economic development.

The story behind past performance and expected trends: 

  • The economic wellbeing and regeneration of the city and county depends in part on the development of large projects, be they retail, housing or industrial.
  • This is both in terms of the economic benefits of the finished development if it's commercial, and the employment and trade generated by the construction process.
  • The in-hand ICT based business improvement measures identified in D3 are ongoing, which together with the adoption of design guides for large scale and small scale residential development have provided greater clarity, much earlier in the decision making process; however, service levels have experienced disruption as a result of staff resource issues and technical difficulties arising from the introduction of new web based software.
  • This, together with the level of decisions overturned at Committee has affected performance.

What works well now: 

  • The pre-application guidance given to developers and their agents, together with the negotiations that take place with developers during the processing of applications gives rise to the high level of approval of these types of applications for example, the Liberty Stadium and the Swansea Metropolitan University extensions to the former Swansea Library, Alexandra Road.
  • Adopted design guides for large scale and small scale residential development provide clarity on the council's required standards and greater certainty for developers and the decision making process.

What we are going to do: 

What?

Why?

Facilitate continued improvement in the quality of applications and the approval rate of major and minor planning applications that have an economic imperative through continuous improvement to the service identified.

To facilitate sustainable development, which contributes to the economic regeneration of the area.

Promote awareness and understanding of policy and adopted design guidance including those for large scale and small scale residential development.

To enable developers and their agents to prepare schemes that they know will be looked upon favourably by the council, increasing certainty.

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