Decision Maker: Cabinet
Decision status: Recommendations Approved
Is Key decision?: Yes
Is subject to call in?: No
To consider a new corporate approach, including the establishment of a central, corporate team, for the management of programmes and external funding.
The Corporate Director (Regeneration) submitted a report proposing a new corporate approach, including the establishment of a central, corporate team, for the management of programmes and external funding and project delivery.
The options, options analysis, including risk assessment, were set out in the report as follows:-
The proposal is to create three new teams with specific responsibilities for (i) programme management and external funds, (ii) regeneration project delivery, and (iii) worklessness, with effect from 1st April 2009.
(i) Programme management and external funds
The proposal suggests a core, established team, which can provide the capacity guarantees that will be required and can deal with the level of work that is known at this time. It assumes further development of close working relationships with other corporate services and an exchange of expertise with those services. It specifically suggests the transfer of the Projects and Performance Officer into the team to ensure that the approach to project management (LAMP) is integrated with project monitoring and vice versa and also reinforce the link with performance monitoring for all projects. In the case of other specific officers, where there are clear overlapping interests, it may be useful to arrange part-time secondments into the team to work jointly on key developments. This can be flexible and short term or ongoing, depending on the requirements. The way in which the proposed new team works with existing services has been developed in consultation and is flexible, adaptable and focused on achieving results.
This approach also offers the opportunity to capture the Council’s contribution to the overall model and identify this as match funding, offering value for money to external funders whilst not incurring additional costs for the Council.
The philosophy behind this approach is very much about enabling strong delivery and achievements, supported by good management and sound processes. There is a very clear focus on end results and the presentation of the approach is centred on facilitation, improvement and cooperation.
(ii) Regeneration Projects Team
With regards to the actual delivery of major projects, the Council currently has officers who operate out of several different services, and provides for a mixture of core funded staff on permanent contracts, and externally funded staff on temporary, short term contracts.
The proposal is to organise officers into a core team within Planning Services. This would ensure that a consistent, corporate approach is taken to the delivery methodologies of all major projects. It will also provide for a strong core team who can facilitate working up the detail of regeneration projects, and provide capacity for delivery, whilst at the same time ensuring full conformity with the LDF. This team should also include two posts currently allocated into Strategic Housing, which deliver housing capital projects in the Poulton and West End renewal projects. It is anticipated that this team would ensure a strong corporate direction is taken in delivering the requirements of the Council’s approved Local Development Framework document, and will provide strong strategic direction in the Council’s corporate regeneration agenda.
The proposal also provides to incorporate the City Council’s Strategic Housing Officer and associated support (currently in Health and Strategic Housing) into the ‘LDF’ planning team, which aligns the work currently being carried out on the sub-national review.
(iii) Worklessness Team
A separate proposal is being made to continue the work of the Worklessness Team, and subject to an external funding bid to the LDLSP, it is anticipated that the team (currently within the West End delivery team) will work alongside the Council’s current business development unit.
The proposal offers the Council a number of benefits including:
· Coordinated strategy development across the Council, clear presentation of objectives and priorities
· Maximised access to external funds
· Maximised delivery of benefits, outcomes, performance
· Efficiency and cost effectiveness – achieving more with existing resources
· Joint working to develop streamlined processes that avoids duplication and utilises key skills and experience
· Added value
· Raising quality and managing risk
· Revising quality of delivery of projects
· Ensure early tie in of major projects to the Council financial and legal obligations.
· Provides flexibility of having a strong core team (using external sources only when required)
· The proposals being put forward require a re?grouping of some posts, and will also bring to an end the need for temporary posts. The proposal is also subject to external funding being successful.
(i) Programmes Team
The structure provides that the City Council seeks to extend the temporary contract arrangement of officers, subject to future funding being made available from external funders. Such posts are essential in ensuring that sufficient capacity is in place to submit further, substantial funding bids in future years. It is anticipated that the NWDA bid will be made before March 2009 with negotiations already being carried out. As an interim measure, funding will be needed to be allocated on a temporary 6 month basis to permit staff to remain in post, until the NWDA determine the application for funding. The total costs of the proposed restructure on a 6 month basis are approximately £267,300 (this includes existing Council funding of £158,800). The additional staff costs of £108,500 arising from an unsuccessful bid would be covered by the Project Management Reserve.
It should also be noted that, should funding not be forthcoming from the NWDA, then the City Council will need to serve statutory notice of termination of fixed term contract posts, which will have a financial cost to the City Council of approximately £55,400.
(ii) Regeneration Team
A revised delivery timescale for current and new projects in accordance with new proposals to be submitted to funders is not likely to come on line for at least two years. In the meantime the Council continues to deliver a range of major high profile projects which rank the authority as a credible regeneration body. These include Luneside East, The Bailrigg Science Park, and Townscape Heritage Initiative II at Morecambe. At the present time it is envisaged that the existing core staff plus one additional post, will provide the sufficient capacity to manage this programme, work alongside the Local Development Framework Team to develop an Action Area Plan for Central Morecambe, and work up further projects in line with the Council Regeneration Programme.
Whilst there is a cost associated with providing any level of management service, this particular proposal is unusual in that it brings efficiencies in terms of existing Council resources as well as the potential to draw down a considerable contribution from external funding sources. As such, it is unlikely to create additional costs overall. It captures the current contribution of external funders to management costs which is considerable and has historically required only a very small contribution from the Council, allowing other resources to be focused on delivery.
Where additional funding is offered to support delivery of projects, the Council will have the opportunity to consider costs and benefits of this alongside any funding contribution. There is no automatic assumption that the Council will accept the Accountable Body role and Council decision making to determine this will be supported by internal appraisal and risk assessment in the normal way.
There will, inevitably, be a cost of terminating contracts, and these will need to be assessed, and, as detailed, there is a requirement to funding an initial 6 month period or less, subject to the NWDA making a decision on funding.
(iii) Worklessness Team
As detailed previously, a bid is being made into the LDLSP to continue the work of this team. In the meantime, Lancashire County Council has agreed to provisionally extend its current contract with the City Council with regards the Supporting People programme. This will effectively leave an initial gap in funding for the team of £29,300 for a 12 month period. Cabinet are therefore requested to support this 12 month gap funding through the Project Implementation Reserve.
It should also be noted that, should funding not be forthcoming from the LDLSP or Lancashire County Council, then the City Council will need to serve statutory notice of termination of fixed term contracts, which will have a financial cost to the City Council of approximately £35,000.
Members will be aware that the current fixed term contract posts covered by these proposals are all on notice to terminate from 31st March 2009. Should Cabinet approve recommendation Option 1 in extending the posts relating to this report for 6 months, then this will be carried out as an extension to the existing fixed term contracts. If funding is not available, Lancaster City Council will need to find sufficient funding for termination of these contracts.
With all the proposed posts in the new structure, subject to funding approval, it is recommended that they are all made “permanent”, despite only 3 years funding possibly being available. The justification for this is that currently the City Council pays a “premium” on many fixed term contract posts, because, by their very nature, officers are usually happy to accept uncertainty about their permanent employment and take a larger salary to compensate. The law provides that any employee exceeding 2 years employment has the right to receive statutory redundancy payments on termination, which effectively means that the City Council is currently paying “redundancy costs” to all staff to which temporary contracts are being terminated at a higher level than had the post been permanent.
On all the posts identified in the report, the salary quoted is existing salary and will be subject to any amendment as a result of the City Council’s Job Evaluation process.
The City Council does not progress the proposed structure.
The City Council would find it more difficult to provide a coordinated approach to the Programmes and Regeneration teams. It would not be in the best position to bid for further regeneration funds from NWDA and HCA, and as such, the Council’s priority on regeneration may be affected.
The Council currently has contractual programme and project agreements with funders. Not having appropriate arrangements in place to manage this will significantly raise the risk of any clawback of external funds.
There are few benefits in remaining with existing structures, particularly as the sub-national review of economic regeneration is progressing the consequence of this, as detailed in ‘Risk’, in that the City Council will have to have strong government structures in place to deal with rapidly changing agendas.
The officer preferred option is Option 1.
It was moved by Councillor Bryning and seconded by Councillor Kerr:-
“1. That Cabinet approves the re-structure of existing staff resource to create three new sections; (i) the external funding/programmes team, (ii) the regeneration Project Delivery Team, (iii) the Worklessness Team, and agree the budgetary provision identified in the report.
2. That Cabinet approves the proposal to integrate Housing Strategy into the Local Development Framework (LDF) Team with Planning.”
Members then voted:-
(7 Members (Councillors Archer, Barry, Blamire, Bryning, Fletcher, Gilbert and Kerr) voted in favour and 2 Members (Councillors Charles and Mace) voted against.)
1. That Cabinet approves the re-structure of existing staff resource to create three new sections; (i) the external funding/programmes team, (ii) the regeneration Project Delivery Team, (iii) the Worklessness Team, and agree the budgetary provision identified in the report.
2. That Cabinet approves the proposal to integrate Housing Strategy into the Local Development Framework (LDF) Team with Planning.
Officers responsible for effecting the decisions:
Corporate Director (Regeneration)
Reasons for making the decisions:
External funding, which has in recent years been closely guarded by regional agencies, now looks set to be delegated down to local areas that meet certain conditions. Lancaster District is very well placed to achieve this but will be required to guarantee its management capacity and capability. This decision has been made to meet this need and deliver additional benefits to the Council in terms of corporate management, efficiencies and added value.
Report author: Heather McManus
Publication date: 23/02/2009
Date of decision: 17/02/2009
Decided at meeting: 17/02/2009 - Cabinet