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Improvement plan consultation in 2013

Key messages which summarise the findings from the consultation.

  • The council consulted on its working improvement objectives using two main methods:
  1. An internet based survey.
  2. Focus group meetings with particular user groups.
  • The internet based consultation showed there was broad support for all the council's working improvement objectives; between 57% and 94% agreed with the improvement objectives subsequently included within this plan.
  • The level of support given to each improvement objectives as being most agreed with from the internet consultation were as follows:

Working improvement objectives

Strongly agree or agree

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

94%

2. Improve school attendance and attainment of all learners aged 3 to 19 years so each individual can reach their potential.

93%

3. Help people adopt and develop healthy and sustainable lifestyles in order to improve health.

89%

4. People are safe, well and supported to live independently.

86%

5. Provide support for children in early years in Swansea so they are ready for learning and make developmental progress.

84%

  • The percentage of survey respondents who disagreed with the council's proposed improvement objectives was very low, ranging from 0% (no disagreement) to just 7%.
  • The percentage of respondents who neither agreed nor disagreed with the working objectives ranged from between 4% to 36%.
  • The council also consulted with:
  1. The 50+ network - a group aimed at older people having an effective voice on a wide range of participative and planning issues.
  2. Swansea business forum - a forum for the council and business sectors to engage with each other.
  3. A group of young people who are not in education, employment or training (NEET) and who were also formerly looked after by the council.

The key points coming out of this consultation process were as follows:

50+ network consultation

  • Debt counselling is important.
  • Promote self-sufficiency.
  • The impact of welfare reform needs to be monitored.
  • The credit union needs to be promoted to deal with the impact of pay day loan companies.
  • Prioritise introduction of living wage.
  • Freeze council tax.
  • Evaluate and monitor success of initiatives dealing with poverty.
  • Encourage economic growth.
  • Increase job security.
  • Improve local transport.
  • Spend money held in reserve.
  • Training and skills should be taught in schools.
  • Fast track planning permission for affordable housing.
  • Don't cut sport/music in schools.
  • Free access to leisure centres needs to be promoted and advertised in bus shelters.
  • LAC family involvement in early stages when child identified as being at risk.
  • The council to provide as much residential and nursing homes as possible.
  • Prioritise support for people to live in their own homes for as long as possible.
  • Provide adaptations at the right time to enable people to stay safe at home.
  • Better communication between departments, carers and cared for to alleviate problems and concerns.
  • Need more of the right community staff who are on good wages and have the time needed to do their job.
  • More nursery provision needed.
  • Promote parental responsibility.
  • Promote positive role models for children.
  • Improve school attendance.
  • Extend recycling collection to include more types of waste.
  • Review charges for waste collections - large objects.
  • Help disabled and elderly people deal with refuse collections/recycling.
  • Target specific groups who do not recycle to encourage them to recycle.
  • Make people aware of energy efficiency schemes.

  
Swansea business forum consultation

  • Concentrate efforts on what the council can affect and change.
  • Work with others, including the private sector, to achieve objectives.
  • Home care is not always the best option - residential care is sometimes necessary.
  • More engagement is needed with the private sector on what educational assistance the university and business can offer school age children. 
  • Recycling centre's need to be open for longer hours to help working people.

  
Young people (NEET/former LAC) focus group consultation

  • The 5 improvement objectives most agreed with by this group were:
  1. Provide support for children in early years in Swansea so they are ready for learning and make developmental progress.
  2. Improve housing and housing supply in order to increase the availability of good quality affordable housing and provide people with work and training opportunities.
  3. People are safe, well and supported to live independently.
  4. Improve school attendance and attainment of all learners aged 3 to 19 years so each individual can reach their potential.
  5. Target resources into the poorest areas of Swansea in order to help reduce the impact of poverty.
  • More support needed for young people with tenancies and becoming independent.
  • There needs to be more accommodation suited for young people.
  • Early prevention and intervention were considered to be very important by the group.
  • Reducing looked after children numbers has to be done safely.
  • Management of care system needs improving and appropriate support provided whatever stage you were at.
  • Managing the impact of welfare reform, providing debt and benefits advice and a Living Wage is important.
  • Healthy food perceived as being too expensive.
  • School attendance - young people as well as parents need to take responsibility.
  • Although important, people should not be forced or coerced into adopting healthy lifestyles.

Most of the consultations responses correspond with or are dealt with by the corporate improvement plan and no significant to changes to the plan were required as a result of the consultation. The working improvement objective relating to carbon reduction was not included within the plan this year pending consideration being given to further developmental work. The outcome from the consultations was also issued to heads of service for their information and consideration.

2014 survey

A follow up internet based consultation on the council's improvement objectives was undertaken during 2014. The survey found that 4 of the 5 improvement objectives that people agreed or strongly agreed with in 2013 were again identified as the most important Improvement objectives in 2014. The exception was the objective around healthy lifestyles, which fell to least important and was replaced in 5th place by the improvement objective concerning promoting affordable credit and savings options and help people maximise their income and entitlements.

How will the council meet its duty to improve?

The council has a duty to put arrangements in place to secure continuous improvement. In discharging this duty, the council must have regard to:

  • Making progress towards community objectives.
  • Improving the quality of services.
  • Improving the availability of services.
  • Improving fairness.
  • Contributing to the sustainable development of an area.
  • Improving the efficiency of services and functions.
  • Innovation and change which contributes to improvement.

Each of the council's priorities for improvement will deliver one or more of these aspects.

How did we select the council's improvement objectives?

The council's improvement objectives were determined with due reference to the one Swansea plan and the council's policy commitments and in consultation with council staff, elected members and the general public. This involved an internet based survey and face-to-face consultations with representatives of various groups.

Results based accountability

The corporate improvement plan was developed using the results based accountability (RBA) method. Each improvement objective was developed and performance measures identified by answering the following questions:

  1. How can we measure how much do we do?
  2. How can we measure if we are delivering services well?
  3. How can we measure if our customers are better off?
  4. What are the most important measures and how are we doing?
  5. What works well now to improve?
  6. What are we going to do to improve?

The one Swansea plan is primarily concerned with the community challenges that the council and its partners through the Local Service Board are tackling together. The corporate improvement plan on the other hand is mainly about performance accountability for the services delivered mostly by the council. The corporate improvement plan is largely about improving the council's services to its direct customers or its contribution to the shared challenges outlined within the one Swansea plan.

A note on measuring service based 'outcomes' - the council has sought through its use of RBA to identify appropriate performance measures, particularly to determine 'is anyone better off?'. There are some areas where this approach is quite straightforward and the 'outcome' is identified and measured. There is however a number of issues for consideration when trying to measure service based outcomes.

Firstly, it is difficult to measure the 'outcome' from some of the council's services that are strategic and enabling and where performance affecting the end user is delivered by another agency or set of agencies working together. For example, while the council has a role to play in the development of key sectors of the local economy, the council largely achieves this through strategic frameworks, through its planning function and through working with others so that it is difficult to isolate and measure the council's impact on the outcome; yet few would argue that the council should not have a priority around developing the local economy.

Secondly, the complexity of some of the 'people' based services means that measuring outcomes and making provision and projections for incremental improvement is not necessarily straightforward. For example, while it might be desirable and possible to measure developmental progress of Flying Start children at age 2 and again at age 3, it is difficult to determine and predict benchmarks and incremental improvements each year when each different cohort of children measured is made up of different individual individuals with different starting points and needs.

Thirdly, some services have statutory direction and guidance in place which determines service priorities. For example, councils' in Wales have statutory targets set by the Welsh Government for reducing landfill and increasing the recycling of waste. Failure to meet these statutory targets will result in payment of landfill tax and fines. This means that the council's waste management services are designed to meet these statutory targets; the council is therefore mainly concerned with how well it is doing in meeting these targets rather than any consideration of whether or not anyone is better off (although this is part of the strategy to convince people to recycle).  

Fourthly, it is sometimes difficult to extrapolate the council's impact delivering a service when the outcomes may not become apparent for some time, they may be affected by other factors outside of the council's control or where the outcomes may be obvious and where measuring them may not be worthwhile. For example, the council is aiming to increase the number of growing spaces and allotments so that people can grow their own fresh vegetables, providing them with a healthy pastime and healthy food while potentially saving them money. The impact of this policy on people's health may be difficult to measure in the short term and may be affected by other factors associated with people's lifestyles; yet few would argue that increasing the number of growing spaces will not have health and other benefits.

How will we monitor and report progress?

The performance measures included within this plan will be monitored on a monthly, quarterly or annual basis at departmental meetings, at corporate improvement board and by elected members. The council's improvement objectives will be reflected within service and departmental business plans. Performance will be evaluated using the latest available data. Consideration will be given to the story behind current performance and progress since the last reporting cycle. We will try and understand what are the causes of current performance so that we can do better. The council will publish an annual review of performance in 2014-15 accounting for its success delivering the improvement objectives outlined within this plan during 2013-14.

Revisions to the plan

This plan contains new local performance measures and work will continue to further refine and embed them into the council's performance management systems. During this process and due to other external influences it may be necessary to add to, change or further refine the objectives, performance measures, projections and other content included within this plan. Any changes will be captured in the annual review of the corporate improvement plan and revisions will be published.

Other business critical issues

The council has a number of other business critical concerns such as dealing with dog fouling and making improvements to highways maintenance, which will be addressed through service business plans and monitored through the council's strategic programme.

There is plenty of evidence to suggest that there are significant differentials between communities in the city and county in terms of wealth, income, health and aspiration. The policy commitments statement adopted by council on 26 July identifies the intent to develop a 'target area' approach, "bringing together council departments, the NHS and other agencies, pooling resources and finance, to work together, across boundaries to tackle the transgenerational causes of poverty and deprivation...". The improvement objectives outlined within this plan are universal, although their application will be entirely consistent with this targeted approach.

How can you get involved and propose new improvement objectives during the year?

The council has created a partnership consultation database to enable residents to easily access consultations that are being conducted by, or on behalf of the City and County of Swansea Council and its partners. Here you can view the consultation, find out more details on how you can get involved in providing feedback.  When a consultation is complete you will be able to download any relevant results/newsletters. 

Should you have any questions or queries about the consultation database, or you are experiencing trouble using it, please contact the Consultation Co-ordinator on 01792 636732 or fax 01792 637206 or email consultation@swansea.gov.uk.

You can also get involved through the council's scrutiny boards, which are open to the public (Scrutiny ) or you can contact the council's access to services team to get involved on 01792 636907 or email accesstoservices@swansea.gov.uk.

If you wish to propose new improvement objectives for 2013-17, you can contact the council at any time by emailing improvement@swansea.gov.uk or phoning 01792 636852. 

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