Council of the future: A guide to our Transformation Programme
South Somerset District Council's Transformation Programme is an ambitious and exciting project which is all about putting our customers first - that's our residents, businesses and partners. It is about building the Council of the future - a modern, flexible and efficient council able to deliver better services and outcomes for South Somerset in the context of significantly less funding.
The Council is currently rethinking the way it operates and launching a new way of working, very different to how councils traditionally have operated. Here's our guide to everything you need to know about the project.
Why does the council need to transform?
The Council is currently operating in a complex financial climate, where between 2017 and 2021, £6 million worth of savings need to be achieved, in addition to the £12 million already saved since 2010. SSDC has sustained a 70% reduction in its government grant funding since 2010 and further reductions are likely in the future whilst demand for and costs of many services continues to rise.
In order to achieve these savings without cutting services - like our planning service, the way we deliver benefits, our play parks and beautiful public spaces like Yeovil Country Park and Chard Reservoir - change is needed.
We won't be cutting services - we are redesigning them in a way where our staff will be able to deliver everything our customers need as effectively as possible.
The Council is currently financially secure and Transformation will help us to maintain this position so we can continue to deliver for our communities.
What are the aims of Transformation
Our aim for Transformation is to build a council that works as one team and is ambitious for South Somerset and the communities we serve. To do this we will be a modern and efficient organisation that is:
- Great to work for
- Excellent to work with
- Leading the way in local government
- And everything we do is focussed on delivering for our communities
What this means for our services and customers is we will:
- Get more customers online and tackle more issues at the first point of contact
- Have 24/7 online access for our customers
- Continue to ensure that customers receive face to face help if they need it, at a place and time convenient to them
- To develop a flexible workforce and create a new council structure based on customer needs.
- Develop a Case Management approach to deliver excellent customer service and the outcome the customer wants
How will this affect residents, businesses and partners?
We're finding ways to link our different service areas so that when our customers contact us, we have multi-skilled members of staff who can deal with as much as possible at the first point of call and get the different services delivered for them.
When customer needs are more complex, access to specialist officers will be available who can help every step of the way.
A new customer facing website, with the option to create a personal account (My Account), will allow users to access our council services online as and when they are needed. Customers will be able to access all the information that's relevant to them from events, information about their local area and key contacts.
We'll provide all the help needed to access our online services but, where this is not possible, customers will be able to get dedicated support from our advisors.
Additionally, there will be revisions and improvements to the Customer service points - the buildings and spaces where customers can meet and speak to Council staff.
What will the 'My Account' section of the website mean for customers?
We're building a new customer website that's better equipped to deal with modern customer needs, with the aim of being as simple to use and efficient as possible. Residents and businesses will be able to set up a personal account where they can see all of their information in one place and access Council services 24/7 - not just when the offices are open.
The website will deliver better services by:
- Offering 24/7 online access for customers
- Streamlined, easier-to-use online services through a modern user interface
- Securely keeping all your details in one place
- Enabling quick and easy set-up of personal customer accounts, with no need to enter information multiple times
- The ability to pay for all Council services online
What is happening now and what happens next?
The new ways of interacting with the council and using our redesigned services started coming into place from January 2019.
The transformation process has involved removing some of the existing roles in the Council and creating hundreds of new roles and responsibilities to enable staff to better meet the needs of residents and businesses.
The Council is also committed to generating more income to support our services, by taking a more commercial approach. In order to do so, we are making investments which will provide a financial return that will enable us to protect the services we deliver for our communities and deliver important community initiatives like the Yeovil Refresh and Chard Regeneration.