STRONG leadership, aspirational goals, partnership working and a clear grasp of financial challenges have been highlighted in an independent review of Staffordshire County Council.
As part of a Local Government Association Peer Challenge in September, community priorities, leadership, governance, financial resilience and capacity to deliver all came under close scrutiny.
The feedback report published last week concluded that the county council was “ambitious” and had a “good understanding of the communities that it is working for and a clear sense of the current and future challenges it is facing”.
The review team also found that although the council faced difficult decisions it was prepared for this and was keen to remain “aspirational” for residents.
The report highlighted too the strong leadership across Cabinet and the senior management team and the council’s recognition of its workforce as its biggest asset.
Philip Atkins, Leader of Staffordshire County Council, said: “The review is a great opportunity to get real constructive feedback, clarity and insight from respected peers about what is working well at the council and what could be done better.
“I am pleased the review highlighted much of the good work being delivered by the organisation including; leadership, understanding our communities, partnership working and, at the very heart of this, the positive attitude and enthusiasm of our staff.
“Local councils are in unprecedented financial times and it is an absolute testament to employees that this review recognised the council has a clear grasp on the financial situation and still has a drive to deliver our aspirations for Staffordshire people.”
As part of the review, the team of local government officers and councillors spoke to more than 130 people including a range of council staff, together with councillors and external partners and stakeholders.
The review team made a number of recommendations for the council including:
- Focus on delivering the children’s transformation programme;
- Review and test the proposals to meet the financial challenges in the short and medium term. A final budget for next year will be presented to Full Council in February;
- Define plans to promote greater support in communities and prioritise digital tools to help increase affordability;
- Develop fully costed plans for the implementation of major savings proposals.
Philip added: “The review has helped confirm a number of areas that we need to press on with, such as the transformation of our children’s services to help reduce the numbers in care, which is not only more affordable but it is in the fundamental best interest of the child to keep families together when it is safe to do so, or to find a loving foster or adoptive family when it isn’t.
“Over the coming weeks we will be looking at the recommendations from the peer challenge team to see where further improvements can be made across the council.”