Transforming South Somerset District Council - this is what it means for you
Over the past three years, South Somerset District Council has been innovating and transforming so we can better serve our residents, businesses and partners.
It’s been one of the most ambitious programmes of change in the council’s history as we radically altered the way we work to deliver improved services for our customers and communities.
We’re making more use of digital technology to ensure we can provide dedicated help and support to those who need it and delivering savings without any cuts to services.
Tony Lock, our portfolio holder for protecting core services said: “It has not always been easy, and there are still challenges we need to overcome, but the work has been nothing short of extraordinary. There is a brilliant team of officers who are working so hard to deliver an improved experience for our customers and communities while reducing the cost to taxpayers and this work has achieved national recognition.
“We have created a modern, more efficient and commercially minded organisation that is fit for the future.”
Why did the council need to transform?
The Council needs to save £6M a year through to 2021 and we’ve sustained a 70% reduction in its government grant funding since 2010 with further reductions likely in the future. At the same time demand for and costs of many services continues to rise.
Transformation is delivering recurring annual savings of almost £2.5M and we are on track to cover the programme’s investment costs by 2021. This will put us in an even stronger financial position moving forward.
What has been achieved through Transformation?
We set out to be a Council that is really ambitious for what we achieve in South Somerset as well as:
- Great to work for
- Excellent to work with
- Leading the way in local government
- Focussed on delivering for our communities
But what does this really mean? Well, in terms of the differences for our residents we have:
- More customers using our new online services or improved online services 24/7 and we’re constantly reviewing feedback to make these even better
- Launched a new website where you can access more services and which is constantly improving based on your views
- provided Customer Access Points around the district where you can directly access our services
- Helped more than 8,000 establish online accounts to help manage requests and tasks with the council more easily
- Used the benefits of offering services online to provide dedicated support to those who really need it through our Connect and Locality teams.
How will this affect residents, businesses and partners?
We know that during this period of time, our performance dipped below our usual high standards in a few areas (although still above national targets). But our team have been working incredibly hard to address any backlogs and we have made good progress in this. And we want to go further and ensure that service standards are even better than before transformation. Your feedback is essential to help us in this.
Ultimately, this work has been about putting the building blocks in place which will allow us to be more efficient, protect services – such as our country parks and theatres, increase service standards and so that we can invest in our district and its communities – for example the multi-million pound regeneration programmes we are taking forward in Chard, Yeovil and Wincanton.
READ MORE: Here's the latest on Yeovil Refresh
It means we can start to close the programme down as we are now in a position to be able to consistently innovate and adapt moving forward. So while the programme may be ending, SSDC has plans for consistent and enduring change which will benefit residents, businesses and partners in the future.
Council leader Val Keitch: “I continue to be so proud of the incredible work that has been taken to transform the way we work. While other council have cut their services, our staff and members came together as one team to rebuild the organisation and, most importantly, deliver for South Somerset – our residents, businesses and partners. We serve the people of South Somerset and through the changes we have made, we are in a great position to support our communities now and in the future.”