Message from the Chief Executive

    COVID-19 has presented us all with unimaginable challenges. It has had a devastating impact on our communities and economy, and fundamentally changed how we live our lives.

    It has also highlighted what can be achieved when we free ourselves from bureaucracy and work together across services and teams, and with partners and communities, to do the right thing.

    We stepped up as an organisation when our communities needed us most. That is something to be extremely proud of, though we know that there is much more to be done.

    That sense of purpose ignited by the pandemic now must be maintained. We cannot hark back to how we once worked, nor can we drag our heels when it comes to transforming how we work.

    This virus will be with us for some time and another could be waiting in the wings. If we are to recover stronger, we must strengthen the ties that now bind us and build resilience across our organisation and communities.

    The way forward

    Our initial response to lockdown was guided by our business continuity plan. Our recovery needs to be just as carefully planned. We must listen and learn and work as One Council - and our business plan provides us with a framework to make that happen.

    The plan builds on the lessons learned throughout lockdown and the fact we can make decisions quickly, with many things once thought difficult to achieve now becoming business as usual:

    • All those who can work from home are now doing so
    • More services are offered digitally, reducing the need to handle cash
    • Communities, who mounted their own response to the pandemic, are being supported by our teams to do more for themselves

    It highlights how crucial the views of our communities, businesses and employees are, and makes clear we're serious about engagement, with our new priorities shaped by the results of our COVID-19 recovery engagement.

    It also lays down how we will bring these priorities to life against an extremely difficult financial backdrop through our Council of the Future change programme and the decisions we need to make in how we run our day to day services.

    Optimistic about the future

    There’s no hiding from the fact there will be more hurdles to clear - not least because we’ve so much still to learn about COVID-19 and its impacts, but if we work together, side-by-side with our communities we will maximise our chance to achieve positive change.

    Together we can create a greener and more economically vibrant area with healthier, happier and more prosperous communities that are digitally enabled and empowered to make key decisions for themselves.

    Kenneth Lawrie
    Chief Executive


    Key business facts

    • We expect to spend c. £1.5bn in Council Services over the next 3 years.
    • We'll spend around £600m on our children and young people through our Children’s Services.
    • We will fund over £270m in the Health and Social Care Partnership to transform and improve the quality and consistency of services for patients, carers, service users and their families.
    • Nearly £200m will go through our Housing Revenue Account so that tenants of Falkirk Council receive the maximum benefit from their rents and ultimately the best standards of service.
    • Our Capital programme pays for major projects such as improving council assets. Following the impact of COVID-19 we will plan to invest £18m in digital capability to transform how we deliver services and support young people's learning. Over the next five years we will spend nearly £150m.

    Medium Term Financial Plan

    In our budget we have projected an estimated c. £29m budget gap over the next three years.

    Our business plan shows how we will bridge this gap. We know there is still work to be done due to economic uncertainties to balance our budget.

    Source 2021/22 £'m 2022/23 £'m 2023/24 £'m Total £'m
    Budget Gaps 13.5 7.7 7.6 28.8

    This will be addressed by:

    Source 2021/22 £'m 2022/23 £'m 2023/24 £'m Total £'m
    Communities 0.19 1.87 2.61 4.67
    Enterprise 0.85 0.08 0.17 1.1
    Innovation 0.68 0.23 0.23 1.14
    Savings to be Determined 7.69 0.93 0 8.62
    Falkirk Community Trust 1 1.5 1.5 4
    Integration Joint Board 3.09 3.09 3.09 9.27
    Total 13.5 7.7 7.6 28.8

    Our plan recognises that over the next three years we face a period of unprecedented change and pressure, in part due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. By 2024, we estimate:

    • The aggregate of our General Fund revenue budget gap over the three years from 2021/22 amounts to around £28.8m, as shown above. These gaps already reflect a 3% rise in Council Tax.
    • Around 25% of this is the estimated value of transformation savings.
    • We will have around 200 fewer employees, Full Time Equivalents (FTE).
    • There will be more people with complex health needs living longer.
    • Increasing customer expectations and demands will put pressure on our services.
    • Increasing levels of poverty and continued deprivation in some areas will have a significant impact on individuals, families and communities.
    • Ambitious projects will be underway to transform how we do our business, including the Falkirk & Grangemouth Investment Zone initiative.

    Capital

    The 2020/21 Capital Programmes for General Fund and Housing have been seriously impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. At this point in time, the forecast spend for 2020/21 for the General Fund is £53.1m and for the Housing Capital Programme is £31.7m. These figures will change as the year progresses and the full impact of COVID-19 is better understood.

    Change Fund

    A Change Fund of £500k for the Council of the Future change programme is in place for 2020/21 to support the Council's priority change projects. This will support those projects with expected savings planned for 2021/22.

    Community Engagement and our Vision Framework

    As part of our transformation and recovery from COVID-19, we asked our communities 'what's important to you?’ and they said they want the Falkirk Council area to be a place where:

    • There is opportunity for all
    • Everyone can fulfil their potential

    They also made clear this can only be done if we work together with our communities, support businesses, and become more innovative as a Council.

    We’ve listened to what was said and have reshaped our priority areas, ensuring our focus is on what matters most – our communities, enterprise and innovation.

    These priorities will be brought to life through the work of the Business Plan, and by ensuring employees, Elected Members, partners, and everyone else who works with and alongside us, has an opportunity to help make it happen.


    Our Priorities: Transformation, Core Business & Recovery

    Communities 

    Only by working in partnership with our communities can we ensure everyone has an equal opportunity to live healthy, independent lives. We'll do this by listening to and acting on what communities tell us so we can enhance our green spaces, create a sustainable transport infrastructure, and establish support services and educational facilities that will allow all our children and young people to thrive.

    We have eight transformation projects focusing on Communities, five of which are priority projects.

    Core Business

    We will focus on five core business areas:

    • Enabled communities
    • Poverty and equalities
    • Education
    • Social care
    • Where we live

    Recovery

    We will focus on four recovery areas:

    • Supporting low income families
    • Addressing poverty
    • Partnership working
    • Young people catch up on learning

    We spend

    • Nearly £170m in educating our young people to Succeed Today, Excel Tomorrow
    • Around £4m in supporting our communities
    • On Roads, Grounds Maintenance & Street Cleansing – £6.181m
    • Closer to Home - £27m

    Over next 3 years we could save £9.7m by

    • Transforming the way our young people learn
    • Delivering activities in communities in new and modern ways and differently to how they have been delivered traditionally
    • Transforming and commercialising our Roads & Grounds service
    • Redesigning our Closer to Home Services

    We want to invest:

    • £375k of the Council’s Change Fund has already been allocated to Communities for this financial year
    • £3m capital monies has been allocated to support our Participatory Budgeting approach for community-led decision making

    Enterprise 

    COVID-19 is severely affecting our economy. We need to help our businesses to recover and ensure all in our communities can access the benefits of renewed growth.

    We'll do this by supporting local businesses and our town centres, helping people to gain skills and employment, and enabling our area to reduce its carbon emissions.

    We have four transformation projects focusing on Enterprise, three of which are our priority projects.

    Core Business

    We will focus on five core business areas:

    • Investment zone
    • Economic recovery
    • Employability
    • Inclusive growth
    • Climate change

    Recovery

    We will focus on four recovery areas:

    • Delivering our Economic Recovery Plan
    • Utilising our procurement capacity to realise community benefits
    • Promoting sustainable and active travel
    • Implementing town centre action plans
    • Boosting employability skills for access to the labour market

    We spend

    • On growth & investment - £1.8M
    • On Employment Training Unit - £2.3M

    Additionally, we access significant external funding support via national investment programmes such as EU funds, Tax Incremental Financing (TIF), national training programmes the Investment Zone.

    Over next 3 years we could save £1.1m by

    • Accessing external resources to sustain and develop delivery
    • Reviewing our employability services to meet the demands of the labour market post Covid-19
    • Engaging with other partners to develop efficiencies and improve targeting of our services

    We want to invest

    Falkirk and Grangemouth Investment Zone has been awarded funding of £90m.

    Falkirk TIF will deliver £67m of investment in infrastructure. Our environmental and climate change programmes will steer investment and access external funds to help reduce our carbon emissions.

    Innovation 

    To help us better meet the needs of our communities, we need to change how we operate. We'll do this by harnessing the innovative thinking, collaborative working and quick decision making that helped us through lockdown to ensure digital technology is used more effectively and our buildings and assets used more efficiently.

    We have six transformation projects focusing on Innovation, two of which are our priority projects.

    Core Business

    We will focus on six core business areas:

    • Transformation
    • Culture
    • Digital
    • Financials
    • Data
    • Resources

    Recovery

    We will focus on four recovery areas:

    • Address digital exclusion
    • Digital and online training for job seekers
    • Staff working from home with a blend of office working
    • Reimagine service delivery models

    We spend

    • On digital communities, £1.5m
    • On property expenses within General Revenue, £24m

    Over next 3 years we could save £1.14m by

    • Delivering our innovation projects
    • Implementing the outcomes of our Strategic Property Review to reduce and re-shape our property portfolio

    We want to invest:

    • £45m in a new Council headquarters and arts centre facility as a catalyst to the transformation of Council services and help revitalise Falkirk town centre
    • £13m on addressing digital inequalities.

    Our Culture

    We are Responsive

    By embracing technology and modern working practices we will enhance people's lives and use our own data to create services that meet the needs of our customers 24/7, 365 days a year.

    We are Innovative

    By celebrating collaboration, creativity, and learning we will inspire employees to solve shared problems and create unique services that make Falkirk the place to live, learn, work and visit.

    We are Trusted

    By removing bureaucracy and red tape, we will enable people to develop new skills and live rewarding lives as independently as possible within their own community.

    We are ambitious

    By never limiting our employees or community aspirations we will create sustainable services that have a positive impact on people's lives.


    Our Roadmap

    Project Date

    Strategic Property Review

    Communities have their say on the way forward.

    December 2020

    Investing for Inclusive Growth & Economic Recovery

    Development of projects for Growth Deal.

    March 2021

    Closer to Communities with Community Choices

    Community Choices conversations. Introduce Community Choices through small grants and capital.

    March 2021

    Digital Communities

    Remaining priority services to go online.

    March 2021

    Communities Shaping Falkirk's Future

    Coproduce the Falkirk Plan with Community Planning Partners Streamline the community conversation.

    March 2021

    Closer to Home

    Increase the number of looked after children and young people in local care placements. Families will be central to decision making and planning for their children.

    March 2021

    Investing for Inclusive Growth & Economic recovery

    Delivery of Town Centre improvements.

    April 2021

    Transformation of Roads & Grounds Maintenance

    Deliver more flexible services.

    July 2021

    Investing for Inclusive Growth & Economic Recovery

    Delivery of Economic recovery plan.

    September 2021

    Employability

    Council services work together to support jobseekers.

    September 2021

    Climate Change

    All plans, programmes and strategies are assessed for future climate impact.

    Falkirk Council Offsetting Strategy developed

    September 2021

    Succeed Today, Excel Tomorrow: Connected Falkirk

    We will roll out our Connected Falkirk platform to transform learning and teaching and ensure all pupils in P6 - S6 are provided with their own personal learning device and that our primaries have their digital infrastructure and capacity increased.

    September 2021

    Our External Changing Environment

    Political

    • Brexit
    • COVID-19 pandemic – lessons learned – changes for the future and impact on communities
    • COSLA – Scottish Local Government Partnership i.e. Government funding allocation, Government guidelines, policies and recommendations
    • Local Government political agendas
    • External Stakeholder agendas
    • Opportunities with partners to reduce impact
    • GIRFEC

    Economic

    • Poverty – child, community
    • Rates
    • Austerity economics continued in public finances
    • Business impacts
    • Transformational change
    • Increased staffing costs
    • Recruitment and retention
    • Stronger inflation affecting the standard of living
    • Community Care budget
    • Supporting people

    Social/Demographic

    • Growing population
    • Health & Social Care
    • Demographic trends
    • Geographical variations in deprivation
    • Housing
    • Community support
    • Public opinion/accountability
    • Work patterns/unemployment
    • Media/publicity
    • Health & Wellbeing

    Technological

    • Digital learning – an increased access to computers/Internet
    • Education
    • Inadequate digital infrastructure/connection costs
    • Automation of processes
    • Data collection
    • Sophisticated systems – security
    • Integrated approach to public service
    • Equipment
    • Research
    • E-learning

    Legal

    • Legislation – statutory obligations
    • Community ambition
    • Human Rights
    • Duty of care
    • Public Protection
    • Health & Safety
    • Brexit

    Environmental

    • Public transport
    • Educational opportunities
    • Seasonal trends
    • Tourism
    • Climate change & sustainability
    • Waste Strategy
    • Zero emissions, low carbon
    • Flooding

    Risk

    Well embedded risk management is integral to fully informed decision making, and the Council has a Corporate Risk Management (CRM) Policy and Framework that encourages staff to be risk aware rather than risk averse. The Corporate Risk Management Group (chaired by the Chief Finance Officer) oversees implementation of the Policy, and risk management updates are presented to both the Audit (scrutiny role) and Executive (decision-making role) Committees.

    A Corporate Risk Register captures the most significant risks to the Council. These relate to, for example:

    • Resilience, i.e. COVID-19, Brexit, and business continuity
    • Reducing corporate resources and impact on staff wellbeing
    • Health and Social Care integration
    • Public protection (children and adults)
    • Equalities duties
    • Health & Safety
    • Transformational change
    • Workforce Planning
    • Funding
    • Climate change and sustainability

    All risks have a lead officer, who is responsible for ensuring that consequences and mitigating controls are captured within the Corporate Risk Register. Risks also link to plans, e.g. Business Plan, Corporate Plan, COTF Projects, and actions arising from other audits and inspections (i.e. there should be a 'golden thread' across risks and plans).

    Assurance on the management of risk comes via Service Assurance Statements, Governance Group Self-Assessments, Internal and External Audits, and other external inspections. These inform risk management updates to elected Members, as well as the Annual Governance Statement (which forms part of the Annual Accounts).


    Workforce Plan

    As a Council, we are ambitious for our area. We aim to be 'The Place to Be - where everyone can fulfil their potential'. As an employer, we are equally ambitious for our workforce. The Council’s Workforce Strategy reflects the need for our workforce to be responsive, innovative, trusted and ambitious, adapting what they do to support the Council of the Future. In this context, there is a need to ensure we retain the right people, in the right roles, with the right skills and attitude. This is essential forward planning for the delivery of the Council’s Business Plan which incorporates our Medium Term Financial Plan.

    The requirement for change is heightened as a consequence of the impact of COVID-19. It is clear that balancing future budgets against a background of rising local unemployment and increased poverty, with likely reduced government grant and income streams, will be extremely challenging. As a result, the Workforce Plan has been reviewed and updated to reflect that some services will have to be significantly reconfigured or stopped altogether as things are prioritised.

    The next three years will be challenging for our employees as they respond to significant change. We need to do things differently based on our learning from the pandemic. Following community engagement, our priorities have changed. The work we do and how we allocate our resources must reflect this. The way we work must change. COVID-19 has already provided an opportunity for increased working from home and where this is possible, this must continue.

    We will support our workforce to lead, deliver and respond to the challenges the Council and our communities face over the next three years and beyond

    We will work together with our employees in the reconfiguration of council services recognising that we have a wealth of experience and skills across our workforce to help deliver our vision for change. As an employer, we will be responsive, innovative, trusted and ambitious. We will achieve this by engaging with our employees, listening to what they say, and acting on their feedback, using data to understand our customers and using digital technology to modernise our services. Our employees will be expected to focus on our three new priorities, helping us revitalise Falkirk in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.