The business vision for council

Budget cuts could bring new ways of working
Budget cuts could bring new ways of working

A raft of changes could come into force over the next three years to turn Falkirk Council into a slick, ultra-efficient operation.

Faced with some of the biggest budget constraints ever seen, local authority bosses say they have been forced to put itself under the microscope and look at how it can change.

Council chiefs who have proposed the Business Transformation project say it will affect every department and service in an effort to save millions of pounds.

Plans include an IT overhaul of the council’s systems, replacing and reducing the number of old council offices, and using electric cars in a trimmed-down fleet.

Council leader Craig Martin said: “This is a massive sea-change, which includes the workforce and how we deliver our services.

“It’s a massive project, and the best part of this is that many of the ideas about how to make things better are coming from the staff themselves.

“The bottom line here is to save taxpayers’ money and bring in efficiencies to streamline the whole process.

“It’s fair to say that Business Transformation is not new; it’s been done in the council before but never on this scale.

“This will be root and branch; there will not be a service not going to be touched by this.

“Some people may say that we should have done this years ago, but it is happening now.”

Bosses believe some of the biggest changes could be seen by the tenants of the council’s 17,000 houses.

Using tablets and mobiles, housing officers sent out to investigate repairs and issues will be able to send information immediately and directly, cutting down the processing time from a few days to minutes or hours.

Live fault reporting could also happen in the town’s streets, parks and centres, making the process faster and more responsive.

Rhona Geisler, director of development services said: “We have a lot of assets, we have a lot of people, we have a lot of information, so the processes have to be robust,

“We are facing difficulties about money, so it’s important to make sure these processes are as streamlined as possible.

“We have to look at everything we do and ask if we can do it better, do it cheaper without impacting on the quality, and in some cases even improving it.

“We’re trialling mobile working, from a phone or from a tablet, which will mean people are out in the field, transferring the right information back to the right place.

“In that way, you become more agile in terms of information and how services are delivered.”

Overall, it is hoped the Business Transformation initiative could reap £3.5 million of savings by 2017.

But the efficiencies come at a cost, with £1.5 million of savings coming from a slimmed-down workforce.

It has already been agreed that 429 council jobs will go, from admin assistants to department directors.

While there is hope that the majority of the cuts can be achieved through voluntary redundancy, compulsory 
job cuts have not been ruled out.

Mr Martin added: “We are working with the trade unions and with the staff.”