Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council

The Organisation

Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council (RMBC) serves a population of c260,000 with a gross budget of £638m. The region is classed as being within the most deprived 20% of England, and has a higher rate of unemployment and a lower life expectancy than the national averages.

The Challenge

RMBC’s newly established Strategic Leadership Team (SLT) face the challenge of delivering £40m of savings through to 2020, on top of an existing savings programme designed to deliver a balanced budget. The SLT is also focused on cultural change, delivering a ‘one council’ approach to working, breaking down directorate silos and embedding new, more effective ways of working across the Council.

We were appointed as RMBC’s ‘change and innovation partner’ in 2016, and are working collaboratively to design and deliver a programme or transformation, known as the ‘Future Council Programme’, covering core services and budget. We support RMBC by enabling them to access additional, high quality strategy, change and programme management capacity and capability.

The Approach

Our first action was to engage with the SLT to ensure there was clear consensus and agreement on the strategic approach to the Future Council Programme. What were we looking to achieve? What were our priorities? What would our approach to reform be?

We delivered an in-depth programme of engagement with directorates, service teams and functional teams to ensure they were involved in the design and development of the Programme. Our approach included researching what was working well, what wasn’t and what could be ‘done without’. Through workshops with directorate leadership teams and one-to-one interviews with the SLT we generated insight and explored aspects of consensus.

Through this research, we were able to develop a coherent set of priorities and a set of guiding principles for the Programme. These principles underpinned our development of a three-year budget strategy that formalized direction and provides context for the Future Council Programme.

We have created a range of proposals for savings and change that support the Programme’s implementation, including a suite of strategic business cases covering the council, from cultural services to children’s services.

Alongside this activity we have made recommendations for the development of internal capacity, leading the design of, and recruitment to, a newly formed Change and Innovation Team. We continue to work alongside this team, providing advice, guidance and strategic challenge.

And recognizing the importance of ongoing engagement, we have designed a communications strategy to ensure that all council staff are informed about, and can continue to influence the Programme.

The Outcome

The SLT has formally endorsed our guiding principles, our efficiency plan and our three-year budget strategy, providing a clear strategic direction up to 2020.

Our suite of proposals are currently being turned into operational programmes that will help to address the budget challenge. These programmes will be implemented and managed by the Change and Innovation Team, which we led the design and recruitment of.

We have supported the SLT and directorates by embedding new knowledge and skills, creating a more structured approach to delivering change that we will continue to support through our ongoing engagement.