The papers for the Council Budget Meeting on 5th February have now been finalised and circulated to the elected members.
The Council will be considering reports relating to the General Fund Revenue 2015/2016 and indicative 5 year budgets, the Non Housing Capital Programme 2015/2016 and indicative 5 year budgets and the Common Good budget 2015/2016 and indicative 2016/2017 to 2019/2020 budget. The Council approved the Housing Revenue Account and Housing Capital budgets 2015/2016 to 2019/2020 at its meeting on 17th December 2014.
At the time of writing the organisational review of the Council’s management structure approved at the meetings of 14th May 2014 and 20th August 2014 is moving towards its conclusion and in addition, recruitment and selection will soon be underway to the posts of Director of Corporate Governance, Head of Legal and Democratic Services and Head of IT and Transformation. In order to ensure continued effective financial stewardship the Council’s budget was not realigned to the revised management structure of the Council during 2014/2015. The realignment will be completed for 2015/2016.
My report to the Budget Meeting includes the latest workforce planning document for the Council – Shaping Our Future Workforce 2015 – 2020. This document will underpin the work of each Directorate in relation to the development of the Council’s staff team over the coming years.
Work will begin before the end of the current financial year on the development with staff across the Council of a re-focused culture within the organisation which will see consideration given to each of customer experience, staff experience and use of resources in everything we do. Decision-making within the Council will include an assessment of how the proposal being considered addresses the balance between these three factors. This will be of central importance to the transformational work to be led by the new post of Head of IT and Transformation.
Extensive work has been undertaken on developing the programmes to underpin the customer experience and staff experience aspects of this refocused culture. The early part of the new financial year will see initial piloting of an approach to outcome planning and budgeting which will be the subject of a report back to Committee.
While the structure and culture of the Council are being refreshed, work is also underway with colleagues from public sector partners to refresh and refocus the City’s Single Outcome Agreement. At the same time, given the changes underway within the Council, the Council’s own 5-year Business Plan 2012/2013 – 2017/2018 will also be updated in the coming weeks to reflect the changed working environment within the organisation.
It’s useful to reflect that the Council’s current suite of corporate planning documents makes no mention of the impact of a City Deal or the delivery of the City Centre Masterplan. Both will need to be included within the revised documents and both will require to be underpinned by a long-term financial strategy for the Council. Officers are currently preparing such a strategy which will provide the Council with a clear understanding of its long-term financial opportunities and challenges within the context of the medium term financial stability that it has achieved in recent years.
The budget reports considered by members next week set out how work continues in delivering against the Council’s Smarter Aberdeen policy statement and the Strategic Infrastructure Plan. The reports also make clear that the financial situation to be faced by the Council, along with every other public sector body, over the coming five years is bound to be challenging.
The Corporate Management Team is keenly aware of this challenge and work is underway both in terms of making the very best case to both the UK and Scottish Governments to explore with the Council mechanisms by which Aberdeen and the wider North East can be supported and in working with public sector partners locally to examine options through which further services might be shared.
Such efforts with local, Scottish and UK partners will be built upon efforts within the Council to work with staff and their Trades Union representatives to seek and deliver service improvement and/or transformation.
Reports will be brought to Committee as required.