Last week Full Council agreed a report which made public the details of a major senior management review which has been carried out over the last few months.
Managing changes to our services
We face an unprecedented level of cuts imposed by the Coalition government which will see our Government grants slashed by £100m by 2018. This leaves us with a budget shortfall of £70m over the next few years. We have already found some savings by making the Council more efficient and cutting out waste. This level of cuts however, combined with rising demand for services such as refuse collection and social care, has left the Council with a huge and growing hole in its finances.
The report announced the reduction of management posts within the Council by a third in order to save £5m. My Cabinet and I will be working closely with the Council’s leadership team to make sure that the people in the posts that remain have the right skills the Council needs to deliver 21st century services which match up to local needs and aspiration.
Challenges we face
The challenge is so severe, that we have to rethink the way we do business from the ground up. This means making sure the Council is focusing on the most pressing local priorities, building a smaller more responsive organisation – one that may ultimately have to stop delivering some valued local services. This is the reality of the severity of the cuts being imposed on us as a Council, as public spending is cut to levels not seen since early in the last century.
We however remain ambitious and focused on delivering for our residents, seeking to support them and provide good quality services which can help them meet their aspirations.
Like many of the people these changes will affect, I share a firm commitment to public service. But we need to adapt to a new public sector landscape that may not be of our choosing but is one where locally we need to prioritise frontline services, support the aspirations of our residents and ensure that those who are most vulnerable are not cast adrift.
Changes we need to make
To reflect this, we’re changing the housing service so that it has a stronger focus on housing growth, building the affordable stock Redbridge needs for local families and so that it works more closely with the Benefits and Payments team on difficult and complex welfare issues. And at a time of crisis, making the right decisions couldn’t matter more which is why we’re adding a Chief Strategy Officer post to keep Council activity rooted in the priorities of local communities and closely monitor services of top concern for residents like customer services and complaints.
However, it’s impossible to pretend that these changes won’t hurt – they will. Neither can I promise that more difficult decisions don’t lie ahead – they do. But I am confident that these changes together with the efforts made to protect front line services will create a modern Council that helps residents and their families meet their aspirations and makes Redbridge a fairer, more equitable place to live.